THIS year’s Group One Lockinge Stakes (3.50pm) at Newbury has a vastly different look to 12 months ago when Frankel, the 2/7 favourite, won his 10th straight race from Excelebration.
Tomorrow’s contest is nowhere near as classy, but it is certainly competitive and Aidan O’Brien’s Declaration Of War has been the money horse all week.
The son of War Chant has always been very highly regarded and has suffered defeat just once in six career starts.
He is entered in all the big Group One contests and the vibes from Ballydoyle suggest he is going to be very hard to beat tomorrow.
That may well be the case, but he is priced up as if he has already proven he is top class and at 7/4 with Coral I’m happy to look elsewhere.
Cityscape and Farhh are the joint-top rated in the field and they will be hard to keep out of the frame, but they are both having their seasonal debuts and I’m just not willing to back either of them at their current prices.
The one who has grabbed my attention at an absolutely huge price is Hughie Morrison’s CHIL THE KITE. The four-year-old had some decent form last term, but this is a massive step up in class.
That said, he has won on his second start for the past two seasons and is fitted with blinkers for the first time tomorrow.
He has always been a little quirky, but the headgear could be exactly what is needed and Ryan Moore (two from three on him) is booked for the ride.
It’s interesting that Morrison has decided to step him up to Group One company so soon and although I’m not saying he will win, he could sneak into the places.
The 50/1 available with Coral means we’re getting 10/1 about him finishing in the top three.
Looking at this afternoon’s York card and the highlight is undoubtedly the QIPCO Yorkshire Cup (2.45pm), the first leg of the Long Distance category in the QIPCO British Champions Series.
The Godolphin operation have clearly had a very difficult time over the past couple of months, but they can celebrate victory here with CAVALRYMAN who looks a notch above his rivals.
The seven-year-old won the Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan last time and has performed well on the Knavesmire in the past.
Saeed bin Suroor has made his customary slow start to the British season, but this is normally the meeting where his charges come alive and Silvestre De Sousa’s mount should have too much for the opposition.
Joshua Tree is respected on his first start for Ed Dunlop, as is Francois Doumen’s Top Trip, but I can’t oppose Cavalryman in what looks a fairly weak renewal.
My other bet today is SIR JOHN HAWKWOOD in the preceding handicap (2.15pm) for the in-form Sir Michael Stoute team.
He did really well to win at Chester last week from a poor draw and although he has to shoulder a 6lb penalty, he still should take all the beating with Moore in the saddle again.
SIR JOHN HAWKWOOD 2.15pm York (today)
CAVALRYMAN 2.45pm York (today)
CHIL THE KITE e/w 3.50pm Newbury (tomorrow)