It may only be day one of a fab four but a big crowd is guaranteed at York this afternoon, with the headline clash of the generations between Al Kazeem and Toronado a certainty to swell the gate and get the Knavesmire turnstiles clicking merrily.
As well as plenty of punters the Channel 4 cameras will also be in attendance for the duration of what is always a great meeting to attend, and my own occasionally silver conveyance will be speeding across the Pennines and up the A1 as soon as I’ve clicked send on today’s suggestions for a wager.
We’ll get to the main course in a second, but the majority of my business will be taken care of good and early, with a field of 19 remaining at the time of writing for starters in the opening Symphony Group Stakes sprint handicap at 1.55pm.
Irrespective of the track I love to back a horse who’s performed there with credit in the past, but this especially applies to the Knavesmire, where proven ability to act on the track is a valuable addition to the armoury.
A five and a half furlong sprint handicap will always have something of a lottery aspect to it, but on this occasion my ticket will bear the name of a horse who won this very race two years ago, is in top form, scored here two runs ago off four pounds lower, and last year ran in four Group 1’s!
Jane Chapple-Hyam has her team in reasonable nick (winner and a second last week), and at 20/1 each way with either Bet Victor or Ladbrokes I’m struggling to find much to complain about with her grey gelding Secret Asset.
Drawn highest of all in 20 might not be perfect, but it’s worth remembering that stall numbers 13, 11, 15 and 16 filled places 1-2-4-5 when he won here in July.
What’s more, course form figures of 8, 1, 1 suggest a real affinity for the track, and though he has to bounce back from a no show in Scandinavia 10 days ago, that clearly wasn’t his true running and can safely be ignored.
Secret Asset has a real chance of repeating his 2011 success in this race (off 95 compared to 100 today), and is surely worth an interest at 20/1.
As for the big race, the 1m 2f Group 1 Juddmonte International rolls around at 3.40pm, and despite just the six runners it really does look worth the admission fee alone.
Al Kazeem chases a fourth straight Group 1 and looks to become the first horse to win the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes, Eclipse and Juddmonte International in the same season.
Two years his junior, Toronado is the rising force and arrives full of confidence after beating Dawn Approach over a mile in the Sussex Stakes.
Irish Derby winner Trading Leather proved he could hack it against the older horses when second in the King George, while another three year old Hillstar showed up well in the same race and was an emphatic winner of the King Edward VII at the Royal Meeting.
Authoritative Queen Anne winner Declaration Of War has had a busy summer, and since Ascot has found Al Kazeem too strong over today’s trip at Sandown, and Toronado too quick over a mile at Glorious Goodwood.
That leaves him with plenty to do, and despite reservations that a little more give in the ground would see him in an even better light, I expect this to go the way of hards as nails Al Kazeem.
He’s the specialist at the ten furlong trip, plus arrives here having been freshened up with precision by a very deliberate 46 day break.
His trainer’s patience after interrupted three and four year old campaigns is really blooming, and a further instalment beckons.
To my mind whatever beats him will win, and if you disagree with the selection then be sure to bet with Ladbrokes, who are offering a bold money back on any loser in the race if Al Kazeem wins.
It’s only up to £25, but even so it’s about as close to a genuine no lose wager as you can get – watch your selection beaten by Al Kazeem and get your stake back, watch your selection upset the favourite and collect.
Of course they might both be chinned by one of the others, but Al Kazeem is pure quality and out to get him in a big way the Magic Sign are taking quite a chance on a high turnover terrestrial tv race!
Al Kazeem is 13/8 with Ladbrokes.
Wednesday’s best bets at York:
3.40 – Juddmonte International Stakes – 1 Al Kazeem (win) @ 13/8 (Ladbrokes)Posted 4 years, 4 months ago