As the old saying goes, “you can’t keep a good man down” and, in recording his first Group1 victory on home soil for over three years with the gallant Ulysses in last weeks epic Eclipse Stakes, seventy one years old Sir Michael Stoute equalled Alec Taylor’s longstanding record of six wins in the historic contest. As Oddsguru’s selection, his son of Galileo left followers of the blog on good terms with themselves, winning at the rewarding odds of 8/1. Out of The Oaks winner Light Shift, a step back up in trip to 12f is on the cards, and having broken through the Group1 barrier, the future looks bright for Ulysses and it will come as no surprise if further success at the highest level awaits. It is probably safe to assume that none of the contenders for Saturday’s big handicap on The Knavesmire will be troubling the judges in any Group1 races but nevertheless, as one of Europe’s most valuable handicaps, it is a class event and the last three runnings have been won by animals rated 108, 104, and 111.
Yorkshireman, and York specialist, William Haggas has won two of the last six renewals and his 4yo lightly raced son of Medicean, Victory Bond, has the look of one who has been laid out for this. He only had the three runs as a 3yo, winning a 10f Ripon maiden, finishing 6th over course and distance in The Dante in May, and coming 4th in a Chantilly Group3 the following month after which he was put away for the season. He put up an excellent performance on his return to action in May eight weeks ago, finishing 3rd in a highly competitive 1mile handicap over the course where he was putting in all his best work at the finish racing off a mark of 100. Only 2lbs higher at the weekend and sure to be well suited by the extra 2f he looks one for the shortlist.
Roger Varian and Andrea Atzeni teamed up to win this in 2014 with the 5yo Faaraaj and the pair combine this time with the slightly disappointing 4yo, UAE prince. Thought to be a group horse in the making he won a Class3 Ripon handicap on his reappearance in April but then disappointed in a 12f Ascot listed race despite strong market support, and paid the ultimate price by being gelded. Beautifully bred by Sea The Stars out of a Giant’s Causeway mare he may have been unsuited by the Ascot track and back at 10f he is worth considering off his mark of 97 giving him a nice racing weight of 8-12.
Varian has acquired the services of top York pilot, Daniel Tudhope for his second runner, Central Square, who has performed with credit over the course in the past. Last October he gave himself plenty to do when missing the break in a course and distance race but kept on well to finish 3rd off a mark of 104. He ran well again on his reappearance over an inadequate 9f at Newmarket in May finishing 3rd, but again missed the break under Atzeni at Royal Ascot when a well fancied 7/1 shot for the Wolferton, and could only finish 11th, 4 1/2L behind the winner Snoano who he meets on 5lbs better terms on Saturday. With Tudhope in the plate he has to be worth considering!
The Jeremy Noseda-trained Sixties Groove had little luck in running in the 12f Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes at the Royal Meeting and the 9/2 shot performed well to finish 5th in the 19 runner handicap, racing off a mark of 98. He races off the same mark at the weekend and with top French pilot, Gerald Mosse taking over the steering duties is worth a second look.
Sir Michael Stoute’s 4yo Ballet Concerto has been running as if a step up in trip might suit. He won first time out this campaign over a mile at Doncaster staying on well in the last 100yds to win off a mark of 97 and again put up an excellent effort to finish 4th in the Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot off a mark of 102. He was again staying on strongly at the end of the 29 runner event and as a son of Dansili who has sired plenty of middle distance winners including Arc winner Rail Link, (2003) and King George V1 and Queen Elizabeth winner Harbinger in 2010 may well find Saturday’s 10f within his compass.
The Stoute stable also runs the 4yo mustashry and he ran an eye catching race over a mile at last year’s Ebor meeting when running on well from the rear he was only beaten 1/2L by the useful Firmament off a mark of 100.
Selection : Sixties Groove
E.W. : Central Square