York takes centre stage next week and there’s nothing I like more than finding a few winners the weekend before a big meeting. Frankie Dettori is at Newbury tomorrow and I fancy him and KITE WOOD to win the Group 3 Geoffrey Freer (2.30pm) for the second year running. He won well on his reappearance at Longchamp before seemingly failing to stay in the Ascot Gold Cup and this drop back in trip will suit him down to the ground.
Brian Meehan has his string in rude health and his MANASSAS has an excellent chance of notching his first win of the season in Newbury’s 3.40pm. He bounced back to form at Newmarket last weekend and really should have far too much class for this opposition.
The William Hill Great St Wilfrid Handicap at Ripon (3.30pm) is always a highly competitive race, but sprint king Dandy Nicholls can win it for a third time with TAJNEED. This ex-Dermot Weld trained seven-year-old is three from three at the track and won this race two years ago.
Looking ahead to York and I reckon BYWORD (right,) can confirm Prince Of Wales’s form with Twice Over in the Juddmonte International, while Rip Van Winkle is far from certain to run at this stage. Maxime Guyon rode a brilliant tactical race on the French horse at Ascot and although York has a much longer straight, this promising young jockey can bring his mount home in front.
The Ebor itself looks very tricky now, especially with the unexposed three-year-old Harris Tweed seemingly unable to get a run. Racing needs to take a good look at itself when a horse rated 96 can’t get into a race like this.
The one who I’ll be backing each-way is Gordon Elliott’s DIRAR at 12/1 with William Hill. He has to ‘overturn’ the Galway Hurdle form with Overturn, but he will surely be ridden with more restraint this time. I can see him pouncing in the closing stages to give Ireland a second successive Ebor.