Aidan O’Brien’s Starspangledbanner comes here on the back of impressive victories in the Golden Jubilee and the July Cup, but both those wins were over six furlongs and the ex-Australian star was beaten on his last start over the minimum trip. Yet, he has been handed the plum draw in stall 13 of 13 and showed blistering speed at Newmarket last time to match strides with the lightning-fast Equiano. He looks sure to be well backed and I certainly wouldn’t put anyone off taking the 9/4 available with Paddy Power. If he gets a reasonable break and manages to bag the stand side rail, he looks sure to trade much shorter in-running and that may be the time to lay him on Betdaq.
At the prices, I’m prepared to give 2007 winner KINGSGATE NATIVE a chance to bounce back from a couple of disappointments at 8/1 with 888sport.com. Sir Michael Stoute’s five-year-old reportedly had a sinus problem before Royal Ascot and wasn’t disgraced at Newmarket. Admittedly, he hasn’t a great draw in stall one, but I expect Kieren Fallon to put him in the race late and he can mow down the likes of Starspangledbanner and Equiano late on. Stoute has his string in red-hot form and he looks an each-way bet to nothing. I’m a lot less keen on the chances of Equiano as the Barry Hills string seems to have gone off the boil. In fact, I’ll be looking to lay him for a place at odds-on on Betdaq as he could easily drop away when headed.
The other five races at York this afternoon look trappy to say the least, but I’m prepared to give Ralph Beckett’s OASIS DANCER another chance dropped back to seven furlongs in the City of York Stakes at 2.50pm. He somewhat blotted his copybook at Glorious Goodwood last time when failing to get home after not settling but his shrewd handler pointed him at a Classic earlier in the campaign, so he clearly holds him in high regard.
Tim Easterby won the very first race of the meeting and he can land the last with DEAUVILLE FLYER. The consistent four-year-old won over course and distance on similar ground two starts back and can go very close even with the burden of top weight.
Looking ahead at tomorrow’s racing at Sandown and a couple of horses grab my attention. Firstly, old favourite INVINCIBLE LAD takes his chance in the sprint at 3.45pm but has a terrible draw in stall 4. However, Richard Hughes takes over in the saddle and the application of first-time blinkers could well sharpen him up. I'm prepared to back him each-way at a big price and can forgive him one disappointing run on the all-weather last time.
Finally, Richard Hannon has had a relatively quite time this week, but his JEHANBUX can continue on the upgrade in the Nursery at 4.15pm. He showed admiral battling qualities when winning his maiden at this very track last time and even though he has top weight, he may still be on a fair mark.
OASIS DANCER e/w 2.50pm York (today)
KINGSGATE NATIVE 3.25pm York (today)
DEAUVILLE FLYER 4.40pm York (today)
INVINCIBLE LAD 3.45pm Sandown (tomorrow)
JEHANBUX 4.50pm Sandown (tomorrow)