Steve Hughes has selections for the opening day of York’s Dante meeting
My usual preference is for handicaps over group races as a betting medium and that is certainly the case at York on Wednesday where there are two big field handicaps to get stuck into.
York 2.55: Ower Fly & Orion’s Bow
It is difficult to know for this first sprint of the year at York what effect (if any) the draw will have so I have simply gone for the two horses I think will go best here.
Ower Fly could be yet another handicapper to benefit for the switch to Ruth Carr. The 5yo has plied his tried mainly at 7f, including when only fifth at Chelmsford last time. However I was taken with his run at the Craven meeting at Newmarket last month, when only narrowly failing to make all the running over 6f. This flat track might allow him to get into an early rhythm out front and perhaps he is best off going fast over 6f rather than trying to last out over 7f.
Orions Bow was not at his best when moved to Tim Easterby in 2017, but he is dangerously well handicapped now and looks in the form to take advantage based on his promising return at Pontefract last month. His third over 5f there despite meeting trouble in running came from a mark of 89. That was a full 16lbs lower than he started 2017 and 8lbs lower than when landing the Scottish Stewards Cup of 2016. He acts on all types of going and a middle draw could be helpful.
York 5.35: Je Suis Charlie & Regal Mirage
An open looking race and I am keen to take on the short priced favourite Zeelander whose round action is not certain to be compatible with today’s quick going.
Of the two I like, Je Suis Charlie has his first run on the flat for John Quinn. He ran well for his new handler over hurdles in the winter without winning, and is able to race off the same mark of 84 he finished last year on with Michael Bell. He was a wide margin winner at Catterick in the summer, but also performed well on a similar galloping track at Doncaster earlier in the year. On his final start here he cruised into contention over 2f further only to flatten out late on, but this 12f distance looks more his thing.
Regal Mirage racked up a four-timer in very game fashion last summer and distances up to today’s 12f. It looked like the handicapper had got his measure by the end of the year, however it looks like the winter off has improved him again and he won with something to spare at Hamilton last week. He does have a 6lb penalty to carry, but I like his attitude and real will to win under pressure and he is capable of taking that step up in class today.
0.5pts each-way – Ower Fly – 2.55 York – 18/1 Bet365
1pt win – Orions Bow – 2.55 York – 9/2 general
0.5pts each-way – Je Suis Charlie – 5.35 York – 20/1 William Hill
0.75pts each-way – Regal Mirage – 5.35 York – 14/1 general