There are four days of top-class flat action at York this week and Tony Keenan has been through the Group 1s for his best bets...
"There is evidence to suggest the three-year-olds are simply better than their elders with The Ghurkha, Galileo Gold and Ribchester competing so well in open company and Hawkbill ties in with that trio. Prices of 5.59/2 are big and it could be that his handicap background and ‘surprise’ win in the Eclipse are being held against him."
Back Hawkbill @ 5.59/2 in the International Stakes
Top class Irish horses will be thin on the ground at York this week with none of Harzand, US Army Ranger, Fascinating Rock or Minding running. Idaho, Highland Reel and Seventh Heaven will be there but they are essentially B-list material with the real class acts likely to be kept back for Irish Champions Weekend next month, the two-day fixture becoming a real target meeting despite being in its infancy.
International Stakes - Three-year-old Hawk fits the Bill
Concerns about Postponed dropping back to ten furlongs are ill-founded; he may not have shown his best form over the trip but that's mainly because he hasn't raced over it since May 2015 and the sectional times he showed in a slowly-run Coronation Cup suggest he has plenty of speed. A bigger worry is an interrupted preparation and a break since his last run and there's a suspicion he's being overrated as the pick of an underwhelming crop of older middle-distance horses.
There is evidence to suggest the three-year-olds are simply better than their elders with The Ghurkha, Galileo Gold and Ribchester competing so well in open company and Hawkbill ties in with that trio. Prices of 5.59/2 are big and it could be that his handicap background and 'surprise' win in the Eclipse are being held against him. Fast ground is an unknown but connections seem unconcerned and his sire Kitten's Joy is a positive in that regard.
At a bigger price, Almodovar could outrun his odds. He didn't seem to get home in the Hardwicke under forcing tactics but remains with potential and is worth a small saver.
Yorkshire Oaks - Endless Time and Koora against the field
With the betting 5.04/1 the field, this is the definition of an open Group 1. I'm inclined to field against the Irish Oaks form of Seventh Heaven; outside of Minding, these middle-distance races for three-year-old fillies have been messy all season with different fillies beating each other on different days.
Endless Time doesn't yet have the form to win a Group 1 but has lots of upside and is a fair price; she wins lots of races and her form beating Almela easily at Naas last backend is strong. It's hard to get excited about the bare result of her defeat of Furia Cruzada last time but it was her first start of the season and she showed a great attitude in a race not run to suit.
Queen's Trust commands respect on her second to Minding but some of the others underperformed in the Nassau and that form may not be all it seems. Of those at bigger prices, Koora is worth backing. You can put a line through her run in the Pretty Polly which was run at a farcical gallop but her unlucky second at the Dante meeting is decent form and her stable are back on song now.
Nunthorpe Stakes - Brando can outrun a big price
Profitable is the obvious one back over five furlongs and will take beating with July Cup winner Limato adding another interesting layer to this speed-fest. At the prices Brando is worth a small play. These top sprint handicappers are well able to bridge the gap to group races and he shaped better than the result in the Charge at Sandown, racing aggressively from the front and travelling much the best only to tie up a little close home.
Back Hawkbill @ 5.59/2 and Almodovar @ 26.025/1 in the International Stakes
Back Endless Time @ 6.05/1 and Koora @ 16.015/1 in the Yorkshire Oaks
Back Brando @ 22.021/1 in the Nunthorpe Stakes