Steve Hughes previews the first of four days on the Knavesmire at York
A cracking opening day at York headlined by the classiest race of the week, the Juddmonte International. I have selections from three races on the card, including an each-way fancy for the feature. Headline selection Hereby was a winner in the previous column on Sunday (advised 6/4)
York 1.55: Stone of Destiny & Arecibo
A fast and furious start to the week with a 5 1/2f sprint including a host of front-runners. As such two horses comfortable sitting just off the pace are favoured.
Stone of Destiny is unexposed in handicaps having only contested his first race in that sphere on turf in June. He was good enough to finish fourth in the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot last season. However a succession of poor efforts in pattern company followed and ultimately he dropped enough in the weights to warrant a drop in class. It took some time for him to settle into the hustle and bustle of big field handicaps, but a fair sixth at Ascot last month was the first promising sign. He ran far better than eighth suggests in the Stewards Cup from a very bad draw. He then produced a strong burst to win the Shergar Cup sprint last time from his lowest ever mark of 97. He only goes up 2lbs for today and confidence is clearly now restored.
Arecibo looks a sure bet to land a big handicap soon for his shrewd handler David O’Meara. This ex French gelding has already won a small prize at Ayr. He was another to be disadvantaged by a poor draw in the Stewards Cup, but I fancy the 6f there stretched his stamina somewhat. Prior to that he was unlucky at Ascot when getting knocked to the rear at the start, only to storm to the front a furlong out, just getting collared on the line as those exertions to catch up too their toll. I think he will love following a strong gallop here.
York 3.35: Elarqam
A colt he has always been well regarded, Elarqam has the opportunity of a first Group 1 win today.
A winner of both his starts as a juvenile (including here) he was a good fourth in the English 2000 Guineas and was then made favourite for the Irish version. He did not really do himself justice there, nor in two subsequent starts in 2018.
A wind op seems to have done him the world of good and he has won three of his last four. He was very impressive in winning over course and distance in a Group 2 last time out, comprehensively overturning Royal Ascot form with Addeybb. The well fancied Crystal Ocean and Japan are arguably best at 12f, whilst King of Comedy looks a bit of a difficult ride at the moment. A solid each-way option in Mark Johnston’s charge Elarqam could be the safest play.
York 4.15: Charles Kingsley
A progressive handicapper, Charles Kingsley should have more improvement to come on his first attempt at 2m.
A late developer, the colt only ran twice before this April. He has been very busy since then, winning three times this summer. However his most impressive success came when stepped up to 14f for the first time at Newmarket last month. He was powering away from the field up the final hill.
I fancied him over that same trip at Glorious Goodwood on his last start, but I think he found that sharper track against him and he gout outpaced at a crucial stage before staying on again late on. This fair galloping track is more his type of circuit – and the extra 2f of today’s race might see him build on his recent form yet more.
1pt each-way – Stone of Destiny – 1.55 York – 12/1 general (Paddy Power 1/5 odds 1st 6)
0.5pts each-way – Arecibo – 1.55 York – 14/1 William Hill (1/5 odds 1st 5)
0.75pts each-way – Elarqam – 3.35 York – 11/1 general
1pt each-way – Charles Kingsley – 4.15 York – 15/2 general (most bookies 1/5 odds 1st 5)