Timeform's Tony McFadden heads to York on the opening day of the Ebor meeting hoping to land the Placepot...
Noble Mission will never shake the tag of being Frankel's little brother, but he has achieved a fair bit himself in his burgeoning career, winning a Group 3 contest at Goodwood last time...
14:00- Conventional wisdom dictates that we should approach a twenty-runner sprint handicap with a great deal of trepidation, however, the presence of Rex Imperator in the opening race of York's Ebor meeting goes some way to allay fears of an early exit. Quite simply, Roger Charlton's lightly-raced three-year-old is capable of winning this en route to making his mark in Group races. A facile success at Windsor on his handicap debut marked Rex Imperator down as a promising sprinter to keep on the right side of and his subsequent effort, when fourth behind Fulbright at Newmarket, did little to alter that view. He travelled with noticeable enthusiasm throughout that contest, indicating that today's slight drop in trip and easier track will suit ideally. The slight concern is that stall 20 might not prove to be an ideal berth, so we will cover ourselves and add a low-drawn contender. Ancient Cross (stall 5) may have been below his best so far this year, but excuses can be made for a few of his efforts and he is slipping down to a handy mark. Kieren Fallon rates as an eye-catching jockey booking for Mick Easterby's veteran campaigner and he is worthy of consideration.
14:30- Dundonnell's third-placed finish on debut, in a strong Newmarket maiden, suggested that he could potentially be a smart performer; his subsequent victory at Lingfield, when easing clear of his rivals to register a wide-margin success, firmly underlined that impression. He is an extremely exciting prospect and fully deserves to take his chance at this level. He faces four other horses who won on their last start and it may be worth adding impressive course and distance winner Ebn Arab for a bit of insurance. Trained by Charlie Hills, Ebn Arab justified strong market support when scoring on his racecourse bow, comfortably beating subsequent Newbury maiden winner Related. It is difficult to gauge just how much ability he may possess, and he is worth adding to the perm.
15:05- It is difficult to rule out any of these talented three-year-olds and the possibility of the race becoming a tactical affair further complicates matters. Noble Mission will never shake the tag of being Frankel's little brother, but he has achieved a fair bit himself in his burgeoning career, winning a Group 3 contest at Goodwood last time. He tends to travel smoothly through his races and is becoming a reliable horse, making him an ideal type for Placepot purposes. The removal of the hood, which has been a regular feature on all starts this term, registers as a slight concern and we will add Cecil's other contender, Thomas Chippendale, to the perm. Thomas Chippendale was last seen in action beating Noble Mission in a Group 2 affair, a success which requires him to shoulder a 3 lb penalty today. The penalty is an obvious disadvantage, and a slow pace could also scupper his chances, however, he has shown significantly improved form on his last two starts and there is every chance this exciting colt is still capable of better.
15:40- The seemingly flawless Frankel steps up to ten furlongs for the first time but he is unlikely to be unduly inconvenienced. Banker.
16:15- The step up to two miles didn't seem to trouble Western Prize at Ascot last time, finishing second to a progressive and well-treated rival in Montaser. There is a possibility he may again run into something that proves to be ahead of its mark, but that should not preclude Ralph Beckett's gelding from running another solid race. Countrywide Flame proved himself to be a smart juvenile hurdler, winning the Triumph Hurdle before backing that up with a solid effort in defeat at Aintree. He returns to the Flat with the step up to two miles looking almost certain to suit and it would be no surprise to see him significantly improve on his Flat form, given this added emphasis on stamina.
16:50- A highly-competitive handicap wraps up proceedings on the opening day of the Ebor meeting and we may need to fire a three arrows to land the Placepot. Start Right ran right up to his best at Goodwood last time and, with the cheekpieces retained, is capable of making the frame. Kalk Bay has won on both of his last two starts and it would be unwise to dismiss the prospect of Mick Easterby's gelding landing the hat-trick, carrying a penalty for his latest success. Sir John Hawkwood is likely to be very popular, having won his latest start in good fashion and hailing from the Sir Michael Stoute yard, but this lightly-raced type has created a positive impression and merits inclusion.
14:00- 1, 6
14:30- 3, 4
15:05- 1, 5
16:15- 5, 15
16:50- 3, 7, 16
= 48 lines