Our racing expert Ben Linfoot previews day one of the Dante Festival at York and he has three fancies for the card including in the big sprint handicap.
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Day one of the Dante Festival at York is upon us and the ground is officially ‘Good’, but it’s warm and drying out all the time on the Knavesmire and quick-ground horses could well be at an advantage.
There’s one race in particular in which this could be key; the Duke Of York Clipper Logistics Stakes at 3.00 where Invincible Army heads the betting for James Tate.
He looked good at Doncaster, but I do think he’s a better horse with a bit of juice in the ground and he might be vulnerable on Wednesday.
The one who will love the surface is Henry Candy’s LIMATO and at 7/1 (Ladbrokes, 13/2 General) he’s worth backing despite his 3lb penalty.
Limato brings the best form into the race by virtue of his 2016 July Cup win and, though that was three years ago, Candy eventually got him firing again in the second half of last season.
His early-season disappointments have always been over a mile, but he has run well in the first half of campaigns before and it’s no concern now he starts the year over a suitable trip.
At York his form is excellent thanks to two runs including a second to Mecca’s Angel in the Nunthorpe, while he was an easy winner of a Listed race here in September on ground that wasn’t ideal.
On that form alone he has a favourite’s chance in this and he shouldn’t be considered fourth best in the market, especially with the ground very much turning in his favour.
In the opening Sky Bet Race To The Ebor Jorvik Handicap Hughie Morrison’s CORGI looks to be a fair bet at 9/1 (General).
This horse had some very good form to his name as a three-year-old, notably his final three starts when he was second to Baghdad at Royal Ascot, when splitting Soto Sizzler and Making Miracles at Goodwood and when finishing a close-up sixth here at York in the Melrose.
He beat recent Chester Cup winner Making Miracles in all of those races and Soto Sizzler looks a horse to follow after his Epsom success last month, too, so Corgi could be a horse to keep on the right side of off a mark of 98.
At Goodwood he tried to give over a stone to Soto Sizzler, while at York he was held up out the back before making up a lot of ground just to have a chance of winning.
It was no real surprise he didn’t quite get home after that, but a mere 2lb rise was the upside and he looks competitively handicapped for the start of his four-year-old campaign, with wind and gelding operations in the winter also a source of possible improvement.
York sprint handicaps are typically tough puzzles to solve and they get even harder on Wednesday with 22 runners lining up for the first time on the Knavesmire.
Aljady has a good chance drawn closest to the stands’ rail, as Richard Fahey always targets this race with his best-handicapped sprinters, and this lightly-raced and newly-gelded son of Bated Breath looks to have all the tools to prosper as a four-year-old.
He’s proven on faster ground and his second to Tabdeed at Ascot last season reads well, even if that rival was in a different league when pulling hard and still winning, but a 2lb rise for that defeat gives Aljady a chance.
It’s no surprise he’s disputing favouritism, but the one the market has completely dismissed is Les Eyre’s SANDRA’S SECRET at 28/1 (General 1/5 1,2,3,4,5).
That’s on the back of a complete no-show at Ripon last time, where Joe Fanning virtually pulled her up once her chance had gone two furlongs from home.
She had showed her customary early zip prior to that, and she’s won a couple of times at Ripon in the past, so the only conclusion is that something was amiss as she’s usually a fast and consistent filly.
Seeing her line up here is enough to convince me all is well with her now and if you do forgive that one blip you’re getting 28/1 about a horse that is three from three for Wednesday’s jockey, Silvestre De Sousa, and one that has won over the course and distance off a 1lb lower mark just last summer.
That came when she was on a real roll, but her midsummer hat-trick was no flash in the pan as she’s won nine races in her career and she certainly knows how to get the job done.
Early speed is key in these sprints at York and she’s got that, while there’s not a mass of pace pressure around her.
If she is over whatever was ailing her at Ripon, a bold show would not be a surprise and quotes of 28/1 are just too tempting about the six-year-old with the superb De Sousa on board.
Ben Linfoot's Value Bet aim: The Value Bet is designed to generate long-term profit by searching for overpriced horses in the feature weekend races and at the big Festivals in the UK and Ireland. Running total: +327.69pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current).
Posted at 1700 BST on 14/05/19.