Weights & Measures: York
Ben Linfoot rounds up the major amendments to the official ratings following the Welcome To Yorkshire Ebor Festival at York.
McNamara the Heartbreak kid
Heartbreak City >>>> Up 10lb to 113
Shrewd >>>> Up 2lb to 102
Quick Jack >>>> Up 2lb to 105
Battersea >>>> Up 3lb to 107
The first three home in Europe's richest handicap, the Betfred Ebor, were all dual-purpose horses ridden by apprentice jockeys, but it was Heartbreak City that dominated under 5lb-claimer Adam McNamara, running out a ready winner.
The pair scythed through the field to land the big pot, McNamara noticeably motionless inside the final quarter mile as everything else was ridden for their lives, prompting trainer Tony Martin to liken the young jockey to Lester Piggott amongst raucous celebration.
A comfortable four lengths ahead at the line, it's no wonder the English handicapper recommended to his Irish equivalent that he should go up 10lb, the pair agreeing on his new figure of 113 following a relatively facile victory considering the nature of the race.
Heartbreak City had previous at York, having won at last year's Ebor Festival over two miles off a mark of 81, but that doesn't tell half his story. Sold for just €15,000 at the Goffs Horses In Training Sale in November 2015 after his previous owner had died, Heartbreak City won over 12 times that purchase price in the Ebor alone and his winning spree might not have finished yet.
He did go off the rails after his York win last season and, despite another impressive win at Cork in March, he flopped in the Chester Cup, running off an identical mark to Saturday's 103, racing too keenly to do himself justice before being eased in the closing stages.
Two impressive wins over hurdles set him up for a crack at the Ebor, though, and with his new mark likely to rule him out of handicaps on the level, perhaps he'll be held back for the winter game now. His hurdling mark of 125 looks ridiculously generous in light of his Ebor win.
A Flat rating of 113 is certainly less appealing in the Cesarewitch, for which he is 12/1 favourite with Sky Bet. He'd undoubtedly be top weight should he turn up, carrying 9st 13lb as things stand, but he was well beaten off a 23lb lower mark in the race last year and it might just be more a test of stamina than he'd like.
Shrewd would relish the step up in trip in the Cesarewitch on this evidence and he could still be competitive up just 2lb to 102, particularly if 7lb claimer Clifford Lee's services are retained. He stayed on nicely here, just running into one who was not for catching on the day.
It was a one-three for Martin and Quick Jack's run can be upgraded too, given that he missed the break, although he is more exposed in this type of race and his mark keeps on creeping up following good runs in defeat. He's likely to be Ces-bound as well and he's currently 4lb higher than he was last year when he finished a one-length third in the Newmarket contest.
Mecca's magic in Nunthorpe
Mecca's Angel >>>> Up 2lb to 122
Limato >>>> Remains on 121
Take Cover >>>> Remains on 113
Thesme >>>> Up 10lb to 109
It was going to take something special from Mecca's Angel if she was to produce a career-best in the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes and that's exactly what the York crowd were treated to following a scintillating display of sprinting on Friday.
This was the quickest Nunthorpe, run at York, since Dayjur's 1990 turf-scorcher and she was exactly a second quicker than she was in 2015, the faster ground and tailwind contributing to that, but, even so, this was Mecca's Angel at her very best.
Raised 2lb to 122, she's at a standard that only Limato can get near to of the current crop of sprinters and she was simply too quick for that rival here, beating him by two lengths over a trip Henry Candy's speedster was attempting for the first time.
Not since Oasis Dream in 2003 has a Nunthorpe winner come out of the race with an official rating higher than 120 and the way she has bounced back from her Ascot disappointment, when in season, has been impressive.
Unfortunately we'll only see Mecca's Angel once, or perhaps twice, more before she is retired to the paddocks, but she'll retire as a back-to-back Nunthorpe winner and one that's right up there with the very best the race has produced.
Limato would in all likelihood have won in an average year – take your pick from 2004 to 2014 – his versatility trip-wise now ranging from five furlongs to a mile although his July Cup romp suggests he's at his very best somewhere in the middle of that range.
Second last year in the Qatar Prix de la Foret over seven furlongs at Longchamp on Arc day, he'll reportedly head to Chantilly for this year's renewal as long as the ground isn't too soft before a tilt at the Breeders' Cup, where he could run in either the Turf Sprint or the Mile.
Take Cover showed he's still in great heart with a battling third, while the 99-rated filly Thesme, twice a winner at York, ran the race of her life in fifth.
She's up 10lb to 109, ruining her chances of landing a big handicap pot for the time being, but connections won't care about that as they hunt black type with the daughter of Exceed And Excel. She could begin that particular hunt in the Scarborough Stakes at the Leger meeting.
Seventh wins battle of Ballydoyle
Highland Reel >>>> Remains on 121
Idaho >>>> Remains on 120
Seventh Heaven >>>> Up 4lb to 118
Found >>>> Down 1lb to 118
Another big meeting, another big week for Aidan O'Brien.
The Juddmonte International proved elusive as Postponed did for Highland Reel, but the Betway Great Voltigeur and Darley Yorkshire Oaks went the way of Coolmore with the latter race proving a Ballydoyle benefit as Seventh Heaven led home stablemate Found.
Seventh Heaven bounded almost three lengths clear in her away kit and her 4lb rise to 118 means she's just 2lb shy of her dual Classic-winning stablemate Minding now.
She could've been rated even higher, but Senior Irish Handicapper Garry O'Gorman explained his decision to mark her on 118.
"I called it 4lb, it could've been 5lb," he said.
"I was just reluctant to put her on 119 for the time being, as that would be saying she'd beat the likes of Highland Reel in those championship races with her sex allowance and I wasn't comfortable with that yet."
Highland Reel remains on 121 following his creditable second in the Juddmonte International, with Idaho still rated 120 after getting on top late in the day in the Voltigeur.
Those two could be the pre-eminent force from the colts' division at O'Brien's this autumn in the wake of US Army Ranger's disappointing defeat at the Curragh on Sunday, while Minding and Seventh Heaven might've moved up the Arc pecking order following the Galileo colt's reverse as well.
However, there was another son of Galileo in action for O'Brien at the Curragh over the weekend, and he's rated higher than all of the above.
"I've still got Order Of St George on 124 and though he would need some dig, it wouldn't be the greatest surprise were he to drop back in trip in the Arc," O'Gorman said.
"Some good stayers have dropped in trip in the past and run really well in the Arc, I'm going back a bit, but Ardross, the two-time Ascot Gold Cup winner, springs to mind.
"It would need to be soft for sure, but at Chantilly, in October, it could well be."
Found was campaigned towards the Arc last year, finishing ninth after encountering trouble in-running, and she could well be targeted at the race again following the Irish Champion Stakes.
She ran well after two months off the track, but was dropped another pound to 118 following her fourth successive second-place finish.
Varian at the double
Postponed >>>> Remains on 124
Barsanti >>>> Up 5lb to 110
Roger Varian's stable has been under a cloud ever since Postponed was ruled out of the King George but the mist was well and truly lifted at York as his stable star got an all-important 10-furlong Group One on his C.V.
The drop in trip – a distance he had never won over in four previous attempts – proved to be no problem at all as he travelled well in the hands of Andrea Atzeni, the pair sitting off pacemaker King Bolete before hitting the front three out.
He remains on 124 following this victory, 1lb superior to dual Derby winner Harzand ahead of their hotly-anticipated clash in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in October.
Highland Reel was well held at the line, but Mutakayyef may have given Postponed more of a race had the winner not squeezed him for room inside the final furlong. Up 2lb to 120, he could well get his first Group One on the board before the season's end.
Going back to Varian, everything he ran at York ran well. Even the pacemaker, King Bolete, who finished last in the end, did his job, while Battersea was a fine fourth in the Ebor off a big weight.
His other winner at the meeting was Barsanti, a massively-improved horse who started the year rated 75 on his stable debut.
A four-time winner since then, his victory in the Sky Bet First Race Special Stakes from Shakopee (up 3lb to 95) was a career-best and he's up a further 5lb to 110 following this tenacious win.
"He's got stakes-race potential and, in time, international races could appeal," Varian said.
Fahey's Frankel filly flying
Queen Kindly >>>> Up 11lb to 113
The Wagon Wheel >>>> Up 9lb to 82
Two juvenile fillies won for Richard Fahey at the Ebor Festival, both convincingly, but from different ends of the spectrum.
Firstly The Wagon Wheel made a mockery of her mark of 73 in the Betway Stakes Nursery that closed the opening day, her near two-length victory margin probably not reflective of her dominance.
She's up 9lb to 82 after taking her unbeaten record to two from two, her inexperience no hindrance in a race that had looked competitive beforehand.
If The Wagon Wheel has a bright future, what about stablemate Queen Kindly, the Frankel filly who showed class and courage to muscle her way through a slender gap over a furlong out before winning the Sky Bet Lowther Stakes?
She's up 11lb to 113 and looks likely to go for her first Group One in the Cheveley Park, a race in which her dam, Lady Of The Desert, was third in having also been rated 113 following her own Lowther win.
Second favourite for the 1000 Guineas at 10/1, the horse that heads that market is the one that finished third to her in the Lowther, Fair Eva, another Frankel filly who was sent off the 4/11 favourite on the Knavesmire on the back of an impressive victory at Ascot.
Undoubtedly disappointing at York considering her previous wins and market expectation, Fair Eva remains a nice prospect and is introduced as a 110 filly following the Lowther.
But the best horse at the weights in the Lowther was Roly Poly, Aidan O'Brien's runner-up who finished three-quarters-of-a-length off the winner carrying a 3lb penalty.
A daughter of Misty For Me, who won Group Ones over a mile and 10 furlongs, Roly Poly is bred to get the Guineas trip and she's raised 11lb herself to a rating of 114 following this fine effort.
At 20/1 for the Guineas, double the price of Fair Eva and Queen Kindly, she could well be a spot of early value if betting on races nine months in advance is your thing.
Best of the rest
Talking of next year's Classics, Blue Point is 10/1 with Sky Bet for the 2000 Guineas following an authoritative three-length success in the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Gimcrack Stakes. He's up 6lb to 115.
Another highlight for Godolphin was the return to winning form for Scottish in the Betfred Mobile Strensall Stakes, his one-and-a-quarter length victory over William Haggas' Yorker seeing him rise 3lb to 116.
The ex-South African Yorker ran a blinder on his first start for 805 days, a new rating of 116 some reflection on the horse's natural ability (and his trainer's) following such a lengthy lay-off.
Tom Dascombe had a good York with two winners, Big Time Baby showing plenty of speed to win the Julia Graves Roses Stakes. He's up 8lb to 101 and stablemate Arcanada is up 7lb to 106 following his handicap win over a mile on the Friday.
Quest For More proved king of the stayers, just, his 114 rating following his Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup victory making him 1lb superior to the aforementioned Ebor winner Heartbreak City.
Hugo Palmer's Wall Of Fire stayed on best in the Melrose to earn an 8lb rise to 102, while, earlier in the week, Alan King's Oceane won over two miles and goes up 5lb to 92 on the back of the win (runner-up Nakeeta is up 2lb to 99).
The Clipper Logistics Handicap over a mile was won well by Firmament for David O'Meara and he's up 6lb to 102 with the runner-up, three-year-old Mustashry, up 4lb to 104. Kellini ran well again in the race for the second year running, fading to sixth this time. He's dropped 2lb to 103, though, and that's 2lb below his last winning mark.
Abingdon is up 5lb to 107 following her win in the EBF & Sir Henry Cecil Galtres Stakes, while Jeremy Noseda's Nemoralia moves up 3lb to 115 after she took advantage of a drop in grade in the Sky Bet City Of York Stakes.
The sprint handicaps that bookended the meeting saw the in-form Boom The Groom rise 5lb to 107 (with runner-up Duke Of Firenze up 4lb to 103), while Tim Easterby's East Street Revue is given a hike of 4lb after his victory in the closing Betfred Apprentice Stakes Handicap.
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