York Dante Meeting Day 2 Tips: O’brien Jnr to fire up Derby hopes with Rekindling
I'll be recovering from my first ever endoscope by the time you read this – I even have a gag reflex at the dentists, so that probably proved very eventful (I am assuming they went in via my mouth anyway) – but let's hope I am here to tell the story tomorrow.
Talking about endoscopes, it appears some Deep Throats in Newmarket have been backing Crystal Ocean for the Derby and Dante since the weekend, and he has been the buzz horse for this York race all week.
I won't bang on about my thoughts on the reported gamble – though you may have read a personally-published piece I did on Monday, which you can find on Twitter if you are interested – but suffice to say that he is well-regarded from a stable that is well versed to bringing maiden winners to this race on their next starts. And winning.
So I wouldn't get too hung up by the fact that, along with Swiss Storm, he is rated only 89 after his Nottingham maiden success, from a subsequent winner, last month.
I suspect he could prove to be very good but whether he should be around a 7/2 chance against a field full of similar types with far better form as it stands is another matter altogether.
I tend not to have firm betting opinions in races like this – and I could bang on about the potential of each runner in this field for ages – but I do think Rekindling should be much nearer favouritism than quotes of around 7/1 suggest.
He is by far the most solid form-wise going into the race, from what I can see.
He is another horse who has improved a good deal since leaving David Wachman at the start of the season – think Winter in the 1,000 Guineas etc – and that could simply be because the now-retired trainer's horses were all sick last term.
But, whatever the reason for the progress, Rekindling beat the subsequent Derrinstown 1-2-3 in the Ballysax on good to yielding ground on his first start for Joseph O'Brien, and the youngster could well have a Derby prospect on his hands.
I would make him nearer 5/1 than 7/1, so I have to suggest backing him to small stakes – I certainly won't be going in big, like this morning's doctor – at [8.4].
C&D form and jockey booking a big plus for Gamesome
The levels of fitness will decide who comes out on top in the Middleton Stakes at 14:55 – I wouldn't be mad keen on So Mi Dar at the around the 11/10 mark, that's for sure – so I can easily give it a swerve.
On adjusted official ratings there is only 2lb between the Stoute fillies and the favourite, and all three are making their seasonal reappearances on what could to be sapping conditions by Thursday afternoon.
Back to the opener and Gamesome is worth a poke at [13.0] or bigger in the 14:20 despite ground fears.
The handicapper has been very kind to him considering he has run two blinders of late, easing him a generous 1lb after a good fourth at Goodwood last time, and I am willing to take a chance on him on the ground.
He has been kept away from soft ground all his career but he has put up two of his better career efforts on good to soft (he has only raced on it three times) and he has some really good course and distance form, too, notably when a head second of 19 here last July. And the booking of Pat Smullen is another big plus.
It's possible that connections will pull him out of the race due to the ground, but hopefully they will only do that on Thursday if they do as I'll be out of action from Wednesday morning onwards.
Another solid form horse to land us a nice Touch
Victory Bond and White Lake have the potential to make big strides forward in the 16:05, but Another Touch looks as solid as you like.
He has run well on the only time he has raced on soft ground, has three good course runs to his name, and has been raised only 2lb for his second to Banksea in the Spring Mile last time.
The form of that race is rock-solid – Fastnet Tempest and George William, first and second in the Victoria Cup on Saturday, were immediately behind him at Newbury – and, while his chance is obvious, his price remains on the generous side. A good combo, so back him at [12.0] or bigger.
Ardad and Graceland the obvious choices if you must play
There is not too much to get excited about in the three RUK races at the end of the card.
Ardad would be my one against the field in the 5f Listed race at 16:35, I don't have any opinion in the 2yo maiden that follows, and Graceland will surely take all the beating in the finale if handling the ground.
He is 5lb well-in after winning an apprentice handicap by a comfortable ¾ length at Ascot last Friday and is a strong favourite in my book, but I am not blind to the fact that these will be very different conditions to Ascot and there is no shortage of credible opposition, perhaps headed by Tatting, who has been in rude health at Southwell.
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