RICHARD Fahey is likely to have a typically strong hand in Ripon’s feature Great St Wilfrid.
The Malton trainer is responsible for over a sixth of the runners in the valuable Class 2 handicap tomorrow (Saturday) and heading the team is GROWL, an 8-1 shot with Carrigill’s who was last seen finishing a roaring third in the Stewards’ Cup at Glorious Goodwood.
The six-year-old could only manage ninth in the Ripon headliner last year, but he started slowly then and never managed to land a blow. He just hasn’t had things drop right for him yet, but has shown more in his last two runs.
At York he was drawn on the wrong side and then in the Stewards’ Cup he got messed around a bit and if he can stay out of trouble he is a player.
A few more showers wouldn’t hurt him, either, but he will need to improve again if he’s to reverse York placings with the Tim Easterby-trained pair of FLYING PURSUIT and GOLDEN APPOLLO.
The two fought out the finish on the Knavesmire in the Sky Bet Dash Handicap, drawing over three lengths clear of the rest of the field, with GROWL back in fourth.
The former had to settle for fifth place in this last year but that was still a sterling effort as he led the stand’s side pack for most of the way and only one of his group got past. They make up a powerful team for the in-form handler, which also includes BOSSIPOP and STAXTON.
This is one of those massive cavalry charge handicaps where backing two can be a safety net in a race in which one side can dominate. So, others worth noting are David O’Meara’s former winner OUT DO, course specialist and runner-up last year PIPERS NOTE, unexposed Godolphin four-year-old REACH HIGH, who beat Harry Angel as a juvenile, and Stewards’ Cup seventh SPRING LOADED.
Elsewhere on the card, punters might be raising a glass to GIN IN THE INN after the consolation race at 2.05, while Jason Wade’s KING’S PAVILION should get his ground in the 4.25 and is expected to make the frame.
Racing in Yorkshire continues Sunday at Pontefract where Sir Michael Stoute has won eight of the 24 three-year olds he has run in handicaps in the last decade, delivering +£7.78 to £1 level stakes. He has GEORGIAN MANOR entered in that age group at 4.05.
Forgotten filly DARKANNA is back with Fahey and has shown enough on the Malton gallops to suggest she can return to the limelight in the Listed race at 3.35, with FOXTROT LADY expected to continue her impressive run and also go close.
But the best bet of the day is the Ralph Beckett colt DAZZLING ROCK in the staying handicap at 3.05. This trip of 2m 1f takes some getting and is more in keeping with the pedigree of this son of Rock of Gibraltar, whose dam is a half-sister to Listed winner Balkan Knight.
Officials at York racecourse are excited about the prospect of STRADIVARIUS bidding to win the £1million Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers’ bonus.
John Gosden’s four-year-old started his season by winning the Yorkshire Cup in May, which was one of four potential starting points to trigger the incentive.
He has since added the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot and the Goodwood Cup and puts it all on the line in the Lonsdale Cup which forms part of next week’s Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival.