Ante-post focus: Sky Bet York Stakes

I haven’t got time to do a lengthy preview tonight, but hopefully what I write still warrants a bet in Saturday’s Sky Bet Stakes at York. At the prices the horse I like is John Gosden’s three-year-old, ASHDAN. It looks like William Buick is going to make the long journey north to ride this son of Dansili instead of going to Ascot on King George day. Now that’s probably more a case of being sent where his boss tells him, but it’s interesting the pair come north nonetheless.

The race market is currently dominated by William Haggas’ Mukhadram who is priced up at 10-11 with the race sponsors. While on current form he deserves to be a strong outright favourite, his current price is far too skinny for me. He’s a bit of a tearaway front-runner and while those tactics suit him well I always feel there is only so many races a horse can run that hard before it leaves its mark.

His last three runs have been top efforts, but it’s worth noting they’ve come on tracks, Sandown and Ascot, that can favour early pace setters on quick ground. While York used to be a bit of a front runners paradise, so they say anyway, I’m not sure it’s quite that way anymore. He’ll have a longer straight to deal with here, maybe slower ground too and given York has got many a fancied one beat we’ll have to take him on at that price.

Back to the selection, Ashdan. The Clarehaven inmate went unbeaten in his first two runs as a juvenile, in a maiden and a minor conditions race. He won both starts in ready fashion before stepping up in grade for the Dewhurst. He ran a sound race there against a very good horse in Dawn Approach, but wasn’t good enough to trouble him. The bare result is maybe a bit unkind as he was held up early, a style I’m not keen on at Newmarket and was maybe a touch outpaced. Once beaten he wasn’t given a tough time either.

Given his stout pedigree (half-brother to winners Day Flight (10.4f-13.4f including Gr 3, 119), Bionic and Sense Of Pride (1m2f); dam French 1m-1m4f Group winner (109)) he showed plenty as a juvenile considering he looked a three-year-old type on paper.

His belated seasonal debut came at Newmarket in the Insure Pink Stubbs Stakes, a Listed race. Again I felt he ran well, to finish second beaten by a nice horse of Richard Hannon’s in Montridge (Just chinned in Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot). He was probably a bit too keen, but stuck on well in the end when maybe looking a touch one-paced. That was over a mile so the step up to 10 furlongs, with York’s long straight should be ideal given his pedigree.

With the favourite likely to set a decent gallop and the freshness now taken out of him hopefully he won’t be as keen again. And should it turn into a bit of a slog his pedigree may come to the fore to show strong staying prowess. The only worry I have, apart from not running, is the ground may turn soft, but a quick scan through the forecast suggests it shouldn’t be too bad. Hopefully they miss any rain up North.

On the rest of his opponents the top two entered, Hunter’s Light and Unbridled Command have Group One winning penalties to carry and both have yet to run in Britain in the last two months – the latter mentioned not having a start in 168 days. Grandeur and Mike De Kock’s Apache have shown good Group form out foreign, but couldn’t be classed as Group Two animals in Britain.

The rest look a mundane bunch or can be mentioned in the same breath as the above although the German entered runner, Neatico has a curve ball look about him.

None however have the potential of the selection and with plenty looking in his favour in the hope the ground stays right, he looks worth an ante-post bet at his price in what is an average Group Two with the favourite taken out. He’ll also be getting a nice three-year-old’s allowance meaning he’ll get ten pounds from the favourite and more from the top four entered, should they run. Hopefully, he first runs and secondly gets some nice ground. Should that be the case, he won’t be a 16-1 chance.


1pt each-way Ashdan @16-1 (Sky Bet)

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