It's the last day of York's Ebor meeting, and Keith Melrose has been charged with landing what's likely to be a good payer...
A well-contested listed race, as you’d imagine one to be at such a big meeting, but there’s one that stands out on form, namely Eton Forever.
14:00 - A well-contested listed race, as you'd imagine one to be at such a big meeting, but there's one that stands out on form, namely Eton Forever. Lightly raced for a five-year-old, Roger Varian's gelding has enough form in good handicaps to suggest he's well up to competing in minor Group races let alone at this level. He's not known for throwing in unexpected poor runs, but he did so last time at Ascot, where he has such a good record, and therefore banking may not be a wise move.
With Dimension out, our insurance selection makes for a much tougher call, but narrow preference goes to Bannock, who's a listed winner at this track and is generally in better form than his recent finishing positions would imply. He's also one of relatively few left in this race that are likely to lay close up.
14:30 - There's some real pressure on me getting through the Melrose Stakes, with the race being named in my honour and all, and I'd have been confident of Gospel Choir saving any potential embarrassment had he not been inconsiderately pulled out.
Bloodied but unbowed, I'll suggest Cardinal Walter as an alternative; he was unlucky not to get very close to Sir Graham Wade (who has since improved a further 10 lb) at Glorious Goodwood and is now just 2 lb higher in the weights. We'll also take a chance on Future Security, who's well bred even by the standards of this race and looked much better than his current BHA rating of 84 when winning at Bath on his reappearance. If you can take his stamina on trust (he's unraced beyond 10 furlongs but will definitely stay further than that) he's got a much better chance than his price suggests.
15:05 - There's little point in trying to get cute in the Lonsdale Cup, as two of the best stayers around- Saddler's Rock and Cavalryman- line up against plenty who've either had their chance or are taking a step into the unknown. If you're feeling brave, you can probably bank on Cavalryman and hope for a shock where the favourite's concerned, but I'm playing safe, as I want to at least get to the Ebor...
15:40 - For our purposes, favourite Motivado is a real conundrum- no doubt the likeliest winner, but almost equally certain is that he'll carry and inordinate amount of the pool. This, after all, is the Ebor, so we're sure to find several alternatives, allowing us to leave Motivado out. Qahriman, for example, has almost as strong a profile for the race and will definitely have the stamina to be there at the death should things get attritional.
Next on the list is Hammerfest, whose form ties in with Camborne from Royal Ascot and, although a 6 lb pull in the weights looks barely generous enough for John Hammond's gelding, he's the more consistent and straightforward, therefore booking his place in our perm. The same comments over consistency could have been applied to Tominator around this time last year, and we'd encourage you to ignore his two runs this season- they've given the impression connections are building him up to something, and what could be a more obvious target than the richest handicap in Europe?
16:15 - The defection of Madam Mojito, taking the field from eight to seven, rules out the possibility of a banker, but Fire Eyes is a good place to start. He cost a packet earlier in the year and looked like justifying the outlay with the manner in which he took a good Thirsk maiden late last month, his speed the most eye-catching part of the performance. Second spot goes to Hoyam, who might have failed to go on from her Queen Mary second thus far but could get similar conditions for the first time since here, a couple of these having plenty of speed.
16:50 - Hardly an easy finish, this being a competitive nursery, but there are a couple of experienced and forward-going types that should be enough to see us home. Medicoe took four tries to get off the mark, but that was chiefly because he'd been crying out for seven furlongs all along, and he can continue to go forward kept to that trip. Similar comments apply to Salutation, who was much too green on his debut over this trip but got on the up in no uncertain terms on hissecond try, winning easily at Newcastle. This will be somewhat tougher from 6 lb higher, but a place is all we need.
14:00 - 5, 9
14:30 - 10, 12
15:05 - 2, 7
15:40 - 10, 17, 21
16:15 - 2, 4
16:50 - 5, 9
= 96 lines