Horse Racing Tips

Mark Milligan's York Ebor Tips: A pair to side with on Friday

The Ebor meeting is in full flight

"Spanish Mission has always shown plenty of talent, though hasn't always delivered. However, there are signs now that he's finally putting it all together."

Mark Milligan has taken a good look over York's Friday card and recommends a couple of bets...

The Friday of the Ebor meeting has a bit of something for everyone, from the speedsters in the Nunthorpe to the stayers in the Lonsdale, and exciting juveniles in the Gimcrack. Heck, even fans of trappy high-class handicaps are catered for on a superb day of racing!

The Group 1 Coolmore Wootton Bassett Nunthorpe Stakes at 15:35 promises to be a proper burn up, with as many as five of the field likely to be forcing the pace up front. If the ground remains on the quick side (Timeform labelled it good to firm on day one), there's a real possibility we could see the track record in danger.

American trainer Wesley Ward has twice gone close in this race with Acapulco and Lady Aurelia, and he has a strong chance once more with the exciting Golden Pal, who was a facile winner of a Grade 3 contest at Saratoga last month. Granted, the waters are deeper here, but he could hardly have done it more easily. The problem I have with Golden Pal at the prices is the pace scenario in this race - he'll be up there throughout but so will at least three of four others, and the onus will be on Frankie Dettori to try and ration a bit of that early speed.

If this does get run at too strong a pace (a scenario that seems more likely than not), the French filly Suesa will probably be the one best placed to take advantage.

She took her record to five wins from six runs in the King George Qatar Stakes at Goodwood last time, swooping late after the leaders had gone off too hard.

It's quite easy to see this race panning out the same way, though she does have to prove herself on ground quicker than good and is priced about right.

I'm not inclined to put up a bet here, though this is a race that should be quite some spectacle. There are few better sights in racing than top-class sprinters tearing down the Knavesmire straight and this should a be fantastic contest to watch.

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Spanish Mission to take down Stradivarius

The stayers take to the track in the Group 2 Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup at 14:25, a race Stradivarius has taken twice in the past. I made a cogent case in this column during Glorious Goodwood as to why John and Thady Gosden's star stayer isn't quite the force of old and stand by that here. However, the opposition is a bit thinner than he would have faced had he run at Goodwood, and there's a chance he could win this without being quite the force of old.

Trueshan ended up an impressive winner of the Goodwood Cup following the high-profile defections of Stradivarius and Spanish Mission, but he would ideally prefer a softer surface and has to shoulder a 3-lb penalty.

I put up Spanish Mission against Stradivarius at Goodwood and am happy to row in with him again despite his price being a little shorter than it was then.

He's a horse who strikes me as having one of these big staying races in him and today just might be the day. Spanish Mission has always shown plenty of talent, though hasn't always delivered. However, there are signs now that he's finally putting it all together at the age of five.

And while a lot of pundits were fixated on the 'bad trip' that Stradivarius had in the Ascot Gold Cup, there's an argument to suggest Spanish Mission had an equally tough passage, yet he still managed to finish ahead of that one.

His prior win at York when convincingly taking care of Sir Ron Priestly is a strong piece of form in the context of this race, and William Buick clearly gets on very well with Andrew Balding's son of Noble Mission.

That last statement could also be quite significant. For whatever reason (and I don't really know the answer) some horses just don't take to the Knavesmire surface, so it's a track where I always value course form highly. That Spanish Mission has already proven himself at York is a plus point for me.

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Of course, Stradivarius himself is also proven at the track, though I just have a nagging doubt that his best days are behind him. If he proves me wrong, so be it, and the crowd at York will rightly raise the roof for him if he wins, but there's no place for sentiment in betting and Spanish Mission shades it for me.

The Group 2 Al Basti Equiworld Gimcrack Stakes at 15:00 has quite an open look to it and Lusail probably rightly just about shades favouritism. He progressed again when taking the July Stakes at Newmarket last time and a repeat of that will see him go close here.

Berkshire Shadow made a winning start at Newbury and left that bare form behind when landing Coventry at Royal Ascot next time. Not seen to best effect when second in Vintage Stakes at Goodwood since, he looks sure to go well also. However, this isn't really my kind of race so I'll pass it over.

Dejame Paso on the upgrade

The Sky Bet Mile Handicap at 17:10 is much more interesting from a betting perspective, with several lightly raced three-year-olds facing off in a race that may throw up a Group performer or two going forward.

Chief among them are Royal Fleet and Wishaah, who both bring similar profiles into the contest and have likely not stopped improving yet. The former looks on the fast-track to Group company no doubt, though his wide draw makes things tricky.

Wishaah possesses a similar profile and is also much better berthed on the inside rail. He readily won a Newmarket handicap last time, and although that were only five runners, that race is already working out well.

However, it's the slightly more exposed Dejame Paso that I'll be siding with from an each-way perspective. He ran a very quick last three furlongs when winning at this track last time and looks firmly on the upgrade. A mark of 91 may still underestimate Andrew Balding's charge somewhat.

Recommended bets

Mark's P&L

Staked: 31.00
Returns: 38.75
P/L: +7.75


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Prices quoted in copy are correct at time of publication but liable to change.