On day two of the Dante Festival Kevin Blake backs a horse with an affinity for York and a maturing talent that looks ready to fulfil his potential...
"Copper Knight seems to have an affinity with York. He has won there four times and three of the top four performances in his career based on Timeform ratings have come over this course and distance."
Day two of the Dante meeting at York will soon be upon us. After day one we will have a better idea of how the track is riding. Based on current forecasts, the worst of the rain may be behind us and the ground may dry slightly from the current good-to-soft in the next day or two.
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Copper Knight's affinity with York to continue
The first race of interest on Thursday is the Matchbook Betting Exchange Handicap (13:40) and I'm siding with one that has a quite similar profile to yesterday's selection Gulliver. The Tim Easterby-trained Copper Knight has plenty of miles on the clock at this stage, but like all good reliably unreliable sprint handicappers, he runs moderately enough when things don't go well for him that he drops in the weights quite quickly, but also tends to win or go close when things drop right for him.
Having improved to a career-high mark of 106 after going very close on his seasonal reappearance last June, a run of just ok performances since then has seen him drop all the way to a career-low mark of 84. While he went very well on his seasonal return last year, that was an unusual year in that racing didn't start until June, and when one looks back at his record in more normal years he tended to improve from run-to-run after his reappearance.
He has looked to be building with each run this season, with his latest effort at Chester representing a good step forward from his seasonal return at Musselburgh. It wouldn't be unreasonable to expect more improvement from him in this and that this race takes place over five furlongs at York raises those hopes even higher.
Much like Gulliver yesterday, Copper Knight seems to have an affinity with York. He has run there on a dozen occasions and won four times. Indeed, three of the top four performances in his career based on Timeform ratings have come over this course and distance. He may not be the force of old, but he is so well handicapped based on his old form that he is worth a chance to get back to winning ways back at York.
Atalis Bay ready to fulfil his potential
The other race of interest is the British Stallion Studs EBF Westow Stakes (15:40). It has attracted a strong field for the grade, with Acklam Express and the penalised Winter Power holding obvious claims. However, one that may slip under the radar slightly is the Marco Botti-trained Atalis Bay.
The son of Cable Bay has looked to possess an awful lot of raw ability from an early stage of his career, winning four of his seven starts despite looking raw and learning on the job. It is within that context that his winning return at Nottingham last month was so impressive, as it was the first time that he did things correctly, settling well, keeping straight and hitting the line hard.
That performance suggested he has matured and is now ready to fulfil the potential that he has always shown. A slight ease in the ground won't be an inconvenience to him and he is drawn around the right horses to get a nice tow into the race. It wouldn't surprise if he went very close.
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