The meeting opened with a typically competitive 5 furlong sprint handicap. The one to keep an eye on from this contest is RITUAL, trained by Jeremy Noseda. This previously progressive sprinter had looked likely to feature in the top sprint handicaps prior to a hugely disappointing display at Ascot. Subsequent tests showed him to be out of sorts for that race and his run at York had all the hallmarks of a horse being prepared for another day. He was slow leaving the gate and held up off the pace. Dettori produced him towards the stands side but was not at all hard on him in the closing stages, eventually finishing 8th of the 19 runners. It would not be at all surprising to see him contesting races like the Portland Handicap or Ayr Gold Cup later in the season.
The star performance of day 1 was undoubtedly that of SEA MOON who slammed the Voltigeur field by 8 lengths. Not surprisingly he was quickly installed at around 6-4 favourite for the St Leger but question marks remain. It has been argued that not all of the leading contenders could have run badly but Seville has had several tough assignments and Namibian ran no sort of race. With the likelihood of Blue Bunting and Census lining up at Doncaster you would not want to take too short a price, especially given the extra distance of the Leger.
Day 2 opened with a very interesting looking field for the Acomb Stakes and the one I liked from this was the Michael Stoute trained ZUMBI. Drawn wide in stall 11, Fallon took him into a prominent position on the heels of the leaders and he kept battling all the way to the line to finish a highly creditable third. I don’t know what Stoute’s running plans will be for him but he looked just the sort for a race like the Horris Hill at Newbury.
The one mile handicap could prove a useful race to follow. I was particularly taken with the game efforts of SMARTY SOCKS who was dropped in behind from a wide draw which meant having to make ground up the unfavoured inside of the track. He has been knocking on the door in these type of races so should have his day when everything drops right for him.
Similarly, PINTURA has been game and consistent and followed up a cracking effort at Goodwood with another solid run here. I’m sure Spencer hit the front sooner than he would have liked and he too was run out of it in the closing stages.
Sir Michael Stoute had the lightly-raced MARKAZZI representing him here and he ran creditably from a poor draw. Although he never quite landed a blow he looks like he is still developing and don’t be surprised if he picks up the winning thread soon.
The same stable were represented by TAZAHUM in the following days Strensall Stakes and he put his moderate Goodwood and Ascot form behind him when chasing home Green Destiny. Held up off a slow pace at Goodwood, he was given more freedom here and was allowed to bowl along in front after 2 furlongs. Predictably he couldn’t quicken at the end of the race but plugged on well enough and I think there is a nice race in him before the end of the year.
Saturday’s feature was the Ebor Handicap and LOST IN THE MOMENT, already featured in this blog, was eventually sent off favourite after see-sawing between 10-1 and 6-1. My reservations about him on this day were once again based on his draw, stall 21 with only Saptapadi on his outside. Dettori must have felt quite hopeful having won the previous two events and dropped him off the pace in the hope that he could make a steady run in the home straight. There seems no obvious reason why the best he could manage was only 7th place but the draw was a concern all week long and I’m sure that contributed to his downfall. Horses have found it nearly impossible to win from a wide draw, dropping in off the pace and then making ground on the inside up the straight. This horse has now shown his versatility from 1m 2f to 2 miles so it will be interesting to see what Godolphin do with him now. It would not be a complete surprise if he is talked of as a possible for the elusive Melbourne Cup.