BILL ESDAILE PREVIEWS BETWAY YORKSHIRE CUP DAY AT YORK
MARCH’S Dubai winner BROWN PANTHER can add to his tally of high-profile wins when making his York debut in today's Group Two Betway Yorkshire Cup (3.15pm).
Tom Dascombe's globetrotting seven-year-old has captured the hearts of many racegoers over the years and he should be popular in York's betting jungle later.
Brown Panther comes into this race draped in glory. An emphatic victory in the Irish St Leger last September and further success in the valuable Dubai Gold Cup in Meydan seven weeks ago are the best pieces of form on show amongst today's field of six.
Although successful over both 1m4f and 2m, the compromise trip of today's 1m6f is where Brown Panther is at his best.
There remains question marks over his two main market rivals with both Snow Sky and Romsdal yet to prove they can compete with the most seasoned and successful stayers.
Snow Sky represents the great Sir Michael Stoute. With the handler renowned for getting every pound of improvement from his four-year-olds, the best of this Nayef colt is probably still to come.
However, I'm sure he'll need the run before a possible tilt at something like Royal Ascot's Hardwicke Stakes, a race that his trainer has won three times in the last five years.
Whether Snow Sky is in the same league as previous Hardwicke winners Harbinger, Sea Moon or Telescope remains to be seen.
As for Romsdal, he may improve for the step up in trip having looked a little one-paced behind Arab Spring at Newbury in April. That was Group Three company, however, and John Gosden's chestnut colt will have to improve markedly on that showing.
Brown Panther is the one for me at 9/4 with sponsors Betway.
Building up to York's feature race is the Betway Jovrik Stakes (2.40pm).
At first glance it looks a very tricky handicap to be making any bold assertions about, but I'm siding with another Stoute-trained runner, TOP TUG.
If they gave out a 'most improved' award at Freemason Lodge there would be plenty of progressive middle distance contenders. Top Tug is another one with the profile to progress and win valuable races this season.
I'd expect the son of Halling to come on for his reappearance in a competitive Suffolk Stakes at Newmarket a fortnight ago. That, combined with the step up in trip, could be enough for him to improve considerably and defy the handicapper, who has dropped him a pound.
TOP TUG 2.40pm York
BROWN PANTHER 3.15pm York
TOP TUG 2.40pm York