Tony Calvin explains why he's backing last year's Ebor winner for a repeat victory and makes the case for three other runners on a lively Saturday afternoon at York and Goodwood...
"Making Miralcles has everything you look for in a winner of this Melrose, maybe with the exception of a more unexposed profile, and it is hard to see him being kicked out of the frame."
There are only two races that interest me from the four ITV contests at York on Saturday.
I am convinced that Zaaki is better than he has shown to date in the opening Group 3 at 13:50 and maybe first-time cheek pieces (and perhaps the step down in trip) will be the key to unlocking the potential, but I can't bet on it.
And the 7f race of the same class later on in the card, at 15:00, may be best left to Expert Eye or Suedois, although I certainly wouldn't punt on it at the current prices.
Nakeeta is a good Ebor bet at 13/1 or bigger
Clearly, the big betting race of the day is the Ebor at 15:40 and a lot of people will start and finish on picking their winner with Stratum now he has crept in at the bottom of the weights.
He looked very impressive at Newbury in a first-time hood and you suspect an 8lb rise probably underestimates his potential, but taking around 7/2 in a 20-runner handicap is not my idea of fun, or a profitable long-term punting strategy.
I have to take him on with last year's winner Nakeeta at [43.0] or bigger.
He is only 4lb higher than when prevailing last season, and I think that is very fair considering he has finished fifth in a Melbourne Cup, and occupied the same position behind Stratum at Newbury, in the interim.
That latest Newbury run, in a first-time tongue-tie (which is retained here), hinted at bigger things to come and the three horses that immediately followed him home have all won since.
He looks sure to run his race. It may not be good enough to beat the favourite, but I am more than happy with 13/1-plus.
Blakeney Point is a smart saver bet for the big race...
He may also be towards the top of the market and is wearing first-time blinkers - new headgear always carries a risk - but a saver on Blakeney Point at [10.0] or bigger is justified.
He did remarkably well to finish fifth at Haydock on his penultimate outing given he totally blew the start, and is actually 1lb well-in here after his Group 3 run at Goodwood last time, both starts over 1m4f.
He looks to have been teed up for this, and the step up in trip is clearly going to suit this triple-2m winner. One of those successes saw him beat a certain Withhold in the dim and distant past.
Rock-solid bet for the Melrose
The lightly-raced Supernova and Heart Of Grace have to enter calculations in the Melrose at 14:25, but Making Miracles looks rock-solid, if you can say such a thing about a Mark Johnston handicapper (sorry, but it is true).
He was very impressive when grinding them all into submission over this trip at Haydock in July and then ran equally as well dropped to 1m4f when third at Goodwood last time, being up there from the off and battling on well when headed close home.
The step back up in trip is a big plus and he has very good course form, to boot, from here in May, when short-headed by his stablemate and subsequent King George V Royal Ascot winner Baghdad.
He has everything you look for in a winner of this, maybe with the exception of a more unexposed profile, and it is hard to see him being kicked out of the frame. He is still entered in Ascot's Group 2 Long Distance Cup on Champions' Day, if that is worth anything.
You have to fear the more unexposed and well-regarded pair of Supernova and Heart Of Grace - the latter is still entered in a Group 1 this season, despite being rated just 81, and the trainer has a good record with first-time cheek pieces - but I will stick with Making Miracles.
Back him win and place at [9.0] and [2.7] - or bigger - respectively. I want the place part on my side as I do fear the lightly-raced lurkers.
Meanwhile, down at Goodwood...
Over at Goodwood, I was tempted by an each-way bet on Altyn Orda in the Celebration Mile at 14:05.
Beat The Bank is clearly the justified favourite but the filly gets 12lb from him and that would make her a very dangerous proposition to not just the jolly, but all of these, on her Guineas fifth (when not ideally drawn) or her second to the mighty Alpha Centauri in the Falmouth last time.
But the spectre of a non-runner always looms large in these eight-runner races, and it does look a trappy little race, so I can swerve it. The Prestige Stakes at 14:40 looks a complete no-no to me, as well - the only maiden in the field, Posted, looks a player on speed figures, mind you - so on to the 7f handicap at 15:15 we go.
Single-figure draws have dominated this race in recent years, and the world and his partner saw how unlucky Chessman, housed in one, was when fifth to Burnt Sugar at Ascot last time.
The problem is that the fancy prices about him earlier the week have gone - he was still 12/1 in a place on Thursday evening - and he is racing from a 4lb higher mark than at Ascot. And, obviously, he is a likely to be a major hostage to fortune from his inside stall should he not break with alacrity.
I was toying with my old buddy Masham Star but I don't know enough about his 7lb claimer Oliver Stammers to trust him in the cauldron of a Goodwood 7f handicap from stall 14. So my rusty pin (no typo there, Mr Sub Editor) has landed on Mukalal at [26.0] or bigger.
The horse has, in the end product, cut little ice in three starts this season but he has shown early dash on each occasion and the handicapper has finally relented, dropping him 3lb for his latest effort at Ascot.
He is only 1lb higher than when fourth in this race last season , when drifting and getting collared inside the final furlong (a stronger ride would have helped) after making the pace, and more crucially on that same level as he was when beating the hugely progressive Tribute Act at Ascot subsequently.
If he can get on the front end again from stall three here, then he could get these at it from his reduced mark.
It's a punt given his recent form, but the price makes it worth it.
Minimum Bet Guarantee for ALL races at York
Betfair's 'minimum bet guarantee' on all Class 1 and 2 races in the UK and Ireland - which means all customers are able to bet to win a minimum of £500 - has been extended to cover all races at selected meetings this week, including York. T&Cs apply.
Making Miracles win and place, [9.0] and [2.7], or bigger, in 14:25 at York
Mukalal at [26.0] or bigger in 15:15 at Goodwood
Nakeeta at [14.0] or bigger in 15:40 at York
Blakeney Point at [10.0] or bigger in 15:40 at York