THE ITV cameras head to Yorkshire this weekend for the valuable William Hill Great St Wilfrid Stakes at Ripon and, with £75,000 up for grabs, it looks a typically competitive heat.
David Barron’s GUNMETAL absolutely hosed up in this race last year and much of his campaign looks to have revolved around this once again. He had a steady time of things up until the Wokingham at Royal Ascot where he ran a blinder into sixth. He beat everything on his side of the track and was a big eye-catcher.
There have been plenty of winners from that Ascot handicap – Tis Marvellous, Raucous, Danzeno and Perfection have all run big races since and Barron’s six-year-old now only finds himself 4lbs higher than last year’s near three-length romp.
Barron is very shrewd with his better horses and he would have had this lined up since his Ascot run. He looks too good to pass over at 12/1 with Carrigill’s.
Another course and distance winner is Ruth Carr’s REPUTATION, who is also a big price for the self-appointed Queen of Ripon. The 16/1 shot only moved to Carr’s ahead of this season, but has put up three career-best performances since the switch, and one of those was a three-length stroll over course and distance.
He hasn’t won since, but he looks to have something in hand off a mark of 96 and the drop back to six Carr’s record at the track make him a serious contender.
Last year’s runner-up DAKOTA GOLD has been installed as the 8/1 favourite by the sponsors ahead of the race and Michael Dods’ five-year-old is chasing another major sprinting prize in the north after landing the Sky Bet Dash at York last time out,
Despite having such a good record in top-class sprints in recent years, Dods has yet to win the prestigious handicap.
The Easterby family have a good record in the race with Tim responsible for two victories, most recently Mattmu two years ago. This time he has no fewer than eight of the 49 entered at this stage, including top-weight VINTAGE BRUT, STAXTON, FLYING PURSUIT and HYPERFOCUS all in the mix, with the last of that quartet strongly fancied.
Phillip Makin, in his first year with a licence, has a solid chance with course and distance winner last time out, LAHORE, while fellow Yorkshire handlers David O’Meara and Richard Fahey are well represented.
O’Meara has joint-favourite SUMMERGHAND and INTISAAB, with Fahey fielding GEORGE BOWEN, GROWL and GREAT PROSPECTOR, who goes for Mirfield owner John Cotton.
Dean Ivory will be turning the clock back 20 years should he saddle LANCELOT DU LAC in the prestigious race. Ivory’s family co-owned and co-trained Bon Ami, who won the Hornblower Stakes at the North Yorkshire course as a two-year-old in 1998 and was then beaten a short head by Pipalong in the 1999 edition of Saturday’s (tomorrow) six-furlong handicap before finishing fourth to William’s Well in 2000.
Saturday’s other big race is the Hungerford Stakes at Newbury, where SIR DANCELOT and HEY GAMAN lock horns again. The latter has finished second in his last two starts but did nothing wrong at Newbury when SIR DANCELOT surged down the outside to beat him, and James Tate’s charge looks sure to be on the premises again.
Pontefract’s Sunday card includes a potentially intriguing Listed contest over 6f at 3.30 and David O’Meara’s PERFECTION won over this trip on her final start for John Gosden. She ran a great race in a Group 3 at Goodwood last time out and is tipped to go on from that.
Carrigill’s nap: (money back as a free bet if finishes outside top 4): HEY GAMAN, Saturday, Newbury, 3.35.
Augur’s best bet: GUNMETAL, Saturday, Ripon, 3.15.