Seven Brothers features among Matt Brocklebank's two weekend tips on the highly-competitive card at York.
1pt win Baashir in 2.35 York at 15/2 (General)
1pt e.w. Seven Brothers in 3.40 York at 14/1 (Sky Bet 1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6,7)
It won’t be a massive punting weekend, personally, but with bookmakers going 6/1 the field in York’s Pavers Foundation Catherine Memorial Sprint Handicap, and extra places on offer, this isn’t an opportunity to be missed.
Barring subsequent Group One winner Twilight Son, who took top spot in 2015 on just his fourth career start, plenty of experience has been a key ingredient to finding the winner so unless you genuinely think William Haggas’ Skyrunner or Charlie Hills’ Dark Shift – each with just three runs to their name – have those kind of pretensions then it’s not too much of a strain to start looking elsewhere.
Tim Easterby has won the race three times in the last decade, including with See The Sun who was 20/1, so cosy Chester winner Showalong and supposed second-string Barney’s Bay obviously command respect, but I’m a bit more interested in fellow local handler Kevin Ryan, who has opted to declare four in Uncle Jumbo, Ben Macdui, Fighter Pilot and SEVEN BROTHERS.
Number one rider at the yard Kevin Stott has ridden all of them at some point already this season so he’s obviously most sweet on the latter and while not overly endowed in the experience department, he comes here having won three of his five starts and with legitimate excuses for the two defeats.
Last year he was forced into Group Two company on just his third outing and duly came unstuck in a hot edition of the Gimcrack (the first and second were third and fourth subsequently in the Middle Park and the Dewhurst respectively), but he’s begun handicap life with a very fair mark and proved precisely that with a narrow comeback win off 86 at Doncaster in April 23.
Last time at Newmarket, from 2lb higher, he was constantly denied a clear run – something Stott outlined in the official report afterwards – and from my point of view it looks a run to completely scrap, given he was also starting to look ill-at-ease on the undulating course as the interference came about.
Getting back on a flatter track and fast ground, exactly the same course and conditions on which he struck under a penalty second time out as a juvenile, should see him in a much better light again and he has such a likeable way of going, combined with a superb attitude in a finish, you’d be hard pressed to suggest the assessor definitely has his measure at present.
From stall nine Stott can go wherever he pleases but they tend to come centrally in this race anyway and if he boots for home early it’ll take a really good one to pick him up given just how tenacious he is. I’m happy with the 14/1 on offer at Sky Bet, who are going seven places on the race.
The second bet at York is BAASHIR, who still has plenty of upside ahead of the JCB Handicap.
Granted, we’ve got to overlook a fairly limp finishing effort at Chelmsford late last month - the fact he raced three-wide most of the way and even deeper into the home straight his only obvious excuse on the face of it - but if he were coming straight here following the neck second over a mile on his seasonal debut at Nottingham he’d be a fair bit shorter and on balance I can forgive the all-weather debut performance.
Having his first run since being gelded over the winter, he was still a bit green when asked for an effort at Nottingham but made a nice move to the front before the winner challenged on his outside late on.
His half-sister Maqaasid was third in the 1000 Guineas and a return to a mile could be in the offing before too long but I like the fact connections are persevering with seven furlongs for now as he looked the part when striking over this trip on good to firm ground at Salisbury last summer. There is also plenty of pace in this field so a true, end-to-end gallop looks all but assured.
With that in mind, the other one to consider at the prices is National League, who goes without the visor for the first time since last September (has run eight times with the same headgear since).
He must be starting to frustrate connections a bit but he’s attracted support twice this term, when beaten half a length into second at Redcar and again last time when sent off joint-favourite at Chester.
He was ultimately beaten eight lengths by Broken Spear (reopposes) and has been dropped just 1lb but there must be races to be won with him based on the form of his third to Haqeeqy at Doncaster in September.
The ugly element about this weekend’s assignment, however, is the presence of 105-rated Ostilio at the top (you’re going right down to 92 for the next highest mark in this 0-105 handicap), meaning National League is 3lb wrong under Paul Hanagan. I can just about allow the horse to go unbacked on those terms but keep an eye on him anyway.
I can also let the Coral Scurry Stakes card at Sandown go relatively untouched, likewise the ITV action from Chester but will be back next week with a column every day of the Royal meeting, where we should be operating on quick, summer ground throughout despite one or two showers forecast for later in the week.
Published at 1500 BST on 11/06/21