York Eyecatchers: Tom Collins pinpoints three horses you need to follow
22 August 2022
Third, 5f fillies’ handicap, Wednesday
This daughter of Ardad only fetched 1,500gns as a foal but evidently boasts a high level of ability. Edward Bethell’s sprinter entered the York Ebor Festival on the back of victories at Haydock and Doncaster, for which she was raised a combined 11lb in the weights to a new career-high mark of 91.
Sandbeck was pitched into an ultra competitive handicap against tougher opposition than she had ever faced before, and was also allocated a disadvantageous draw in stall 17 (you wanted to be in the low numbers all week). A below-par performance would have been excusable given those mitigating factors, but she pleasantly surprised me.
Blindsided by the errant Peggy Sioux as she left the gate, Sandbeck was immediately on the backfoot. Jack Mitchell allowed her to find her stride and she cruised throughout the early portion of the 5f event, showcasing an impressively high cruising speed in the process, before changing gears as soon as Mitchell pressed the button.
Unfortunately, eventual winner Designer had gone beyond recall against the quicker far-side rail by the time she made her move, but Sandbeck lost very little in defeat by finishing third and remains a filly worth following in the near future. She hasn’t stopped improving just yet.
Third, 7f nursery, Thursday
Horses positioned on or near the lead dominated at the Ebor Festival. It proved mighty difficult to make up any ground from the rear, and even those who appeared to be posting suicidal sectionals in the early portion of their respective races didn’t stutter or splutter in the final furlong.
Following horses who were compromised by their early position in races will be my favourite angle exiting York’s showpiece meeting. One such example was the Charlie Appleby-trained Courageous Knight, who broke slowly in Thursday’s competitive nursery and immediately appeared to have lost all chance.
The recently-gelded son of Dubawi gifted his rivals a two-length advantage from the outset and turned for home with just two floundering rivals, neither of whom passed another horse in the race, behind him. It was from that moment that James Doyle’s mount impressed me.
Courageous Knight was forced to make ground into a quickening pace, which is no easy feat, but rapidly sliced through the field to briefly join the leaders with a furlong to run. Doyle dropped his whip soon after but his partner continued to sustain his admirable effort and eventually crossed the line in third, beaten just a length and three-quarters.
With further improvement to come given it was first start since undergoing a gelding operation, Courageous Knight shouldn’t go unbacked when he next sees the racetrack.
Tenth, 7f maiden, Friday
The Convivial Maiden generally produces a selection of subsequent winners. You just have to look at the roll of honour to understand the level of horse it takes to win this prize.
Hoo Ya Mal, who finished second in the Derby two months ago, won last year’s edition; subsequent Group 1 Platinum Jubilee winner Noble Crown took the prize in 2020, while 2019 scorer Molatham plundered the Jersey at Royal Ascot the following year.
Well-backed favourite Desert Order took Friday’s renewal and looked a Group performer in the making, but his ability was on show for all to see and it’s unlikely that there will be any juice in his price next time out. Value is rarely found in the obvious.
Digging a little deeper enables you to find an edge, and I’m confident that followers of tenth-home Three Yorkshiremen will be rewarded in the near future. Richard Fahey’s colt performed creditably to take third behind a subsequent winner on debut at Chester and took a notable step forward last week, even if the figures don’t suggest that’s the case.
Jamie Spencer’s mount was squeezed out in the early stages and had just one rival behind him after a furlong. The leaders set steady fractions upfront, which didn’t help his cause, and he briefly became outpaced before he engaged fifth gear.
Unfortunately the gaps kept closing in front of Three Yorkshiremen and Spencer only found a clear passage with 100 yards to run, where the son of Massaat picked up takingly to surge by five rivals. Another few strides and he would have passed a couple more.
Form figures of ‘30’ suggests he will go under the radar in the immediate future, and I’m more than happy to back him in a maiden next time and on handicap debut off what should be a pretty lenient mark.
22 August 2022