Horse Racing

Saturday’s Race Of The Day

Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes Preview 15.25 York
(Group 2) (CLASS 1) (2yo) (Colts and Geldings)
By Dave Stevos

The Ebor Festival at York is one of the highlights of the UK racing calendar, and there are races to suit the preferences of all types of punters. The Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes has been won by some extremely useful sorts down through the years, and William Haggas is a trainer with a superb record in the race. He took it last year with Ajaya at odds of 7/2, and that was his third win since 2006. Kevin Ryan has also traditionally done well in this race, and he won it in 2012 and 2013. Both trainers are represented today, and you can find out what their prospects are by reading below.

MAIN CONTENDERS

BLUE POINT

Trainer: Charlie Appleby
Jockey: William Buick
Odds: 15/8 Bet365

This 2yo colt is two from three over 6f on good to firm ground so far in his short career, his only defeat coming last time out in the Group 2 Richmond Stakes at Goodwood (6f gd/fm). He was beaten only a neck by Mehmas in receipt of 3lb (Intelligence Cross 3L behind), and that is by far the strongest form in this race. Mehmas was beaten only a couple of lengths by Caravaggio in the Coventry, and he went on to win the July Stakes at Newmarket.

Blue Point has been given a rating of 109 for this contest, and that is 4lb higher than his nearest rivals. However, the big worry for supporters of Blue Point is the forecast rain. He has never raced on anything other than good to firm, and there are mixed signals in his pedigree regarding the suitability of easy ground. On all known form he is clearly the one to beat, but if the rain arrives he will be heading into the unknown.

MUBTASIM

Trainer: William Haggas
Jockey: Pat Cosgrave
Odds: 4/1 BetVictor

This son of Arcano brings a 100% record into this race, and he has looked mightily impressive for both those victories. He took a class 4 novice event at Yarmouth on debut (6f gd/fm) by 2L, and he followed up under a 6lb penalty in even more decisive fashion at Haydock (6f gd/fm) last time out. He didn’t beat much on either occasion, but he was visually very impressive. Given his trainer’s record in this race he is automatically entitled to respect, but it is debateable whether the forecast rain will suit this fella.

Arcano’s progeny usually relish a fast racing surface, but there is a glimmer of hope in his pedigree regarding his prospects of handling an ease. His half-brother Charity Plenty has won on soft, and his dam is related to a host of soft ground winners too. However, if the ground is anything other than good to firm this colt will be stepping into the unknown, and his form does not match up to the favourite. Given that Haggas has such a superb record in this race he is sure to be popular, but his odds looks a bit skinny to me and it would be prudent to wait and see what the weather does before backing him at 4/1 with BetVictor.

MOKARRIS

Trainer: Simon Crisford
Jockey: Paul Hanagan
Odds: 9/2 Skybet

This thrice raced son of More Than Ready is two from three so far, his only defeat coming on his second start in the Coventry on soft ground. He has no chance of beating Blue Point on a form line through Mehmas judging by that run, but he did look impressive last time out on quick ground when taking the Listed Rose Bowl Stakes (6f gd/fm) at Newbury by almost 3L.

His debut win came on good to soft at Haydock (6f), so he is the only one of the three market leaders to have proven himself on an easy surface. However, his form is nowhere near as strong as Blue Point’s, and he was well off the pace on his only previous try at this level in the Coventry. Perhaps the ground was a bit too testing for him that day, but even so he was beaten a very long way. He has plenty to prove, and at his current odds of 9/2 with Skybet he is probably best watched.

INTELLIGENCE CROSS

Trainer: Aidan O’Brien
Jockey: Seamie Heffernan
Odds: 9/1 William Hill

This son of War Front has been consistent this season, and he has run really well on three of his four starts. He was beaten a head on debut at the Curragh (6f gd/fm) and made amends over the same course and distance (gd/yld) on his next outing. He was quickly stepped up to pattern company next time out, and he ran a cracker to be second behind Mehmas in the Group 2 July Stakes at Newmarket (6f gd/fm). He was only a half-length behind that rival at Newmarket, but the gap widened to over 3L on his last run at Goodwood, when Blue Point was also ahead of him.

However, some horses simply don’t handle the tricky track that is Goodwood, and if he was coming here after the July Stakes there would be no way he would be a 9/1 shot. There is every chance he will be a better horse on a more conventional track like York, and it would be no surprise to see him bounce back to form. Being by War Front he won’t want it soft, but he has won on good to yielding so at least he is proven with a bit of ease in the ground. He looks overpriced, and he could reward each way support at 9/1 with William Hill.

BEST OF THE REST

Although the four market leaders are sure to dominate the betting, there are plenty of other interesting types worth having a look at. Kevin Ryan is a trainer with a superb record in this race, and Dream Of Dreams is a fascinating contender at odds of 12/1 with Paddy Power. He has some serious form in the book, and his run last time out when third behind Medicine Jack and Peace Envoy at the Curragh in the Group 2 Railway Stakes (6f gd/yld) was a cracker. He has been kept to easy ground for all three starts, so the forecast rain won’t bother this son of Dream Ahead. He is of definite each way interest at double figure odds, even if he has a few pounds to find with the favourite.

Ardad can currently be backed at odds of 14/1 with William Hill, and he represents the John Gosden yard. Frankie takes the ride, and those two have a superb record when teaming up this season. This son of Kodiac looked a serious prospect when taking the Windsor Castle at Royal Ascot (5f soft). He won his debut on good to firm at Yarmouth (5f) so he is versatile regarding ground. However, he was well behind Intelligence Cross in the July Stakes when stepped up to 6f. He had no excuses that day, and it is hard to see him turning that form around here.

The Last Lion is another that deserves a mention, and this son of Choisir has had a busy season. His trainer Mark Johnston is not afraid to run his horses, and he will be having his seventh start of the season. He has yet to finish out of the first two on any of those seven starts, and he has won two, including a Listed heat at Sandown (5f soft) on his penultimate start. He was a close second in the Norfolk at Royal Ascot (5f soft) and he has shown that he handles all sorts of ground. The big unknown is the trip, but he looks well worth a shot at 6f. If the rain arrives it will enhance his prospects, and at odds of 16/1 with Bet365 he could sneak a place.

CONCLUSION

This year’s Gimcrack Stakes looks a cracking renewal, and a case can be made for quite a few of them. If the ground stays quick then Blue Point has to have a favourite’s chance, but it would be wise to wait and see what the weather does before lumping on at 15/8 with Bet365. Mubtasim is also going to be popular at 4/1 with BetVictor but, just like the favourite, he will be stepping into the unknown if the weather takes a turn for the worse. Of the market leaders Intelligence Cross makes most appeal at the current prices.

The one I like at a nice each way price is Dream Of Dreams. Kevin Ryan has his string in superb form, and this fella won’t mind a drop of rain. He has been put away since his superb effort at the Curragh when he was stepped up to Group 2 level for the first time, and he arrives here a fresher horse than most of his rivals. It would be no surprise if Ryan has had this race in mind for some time, and at his current odds of 12/1 with Paddy Power he is the each way selection for what should be a thrilling race.

STEVOS’ SELECTION: DREAM OF DREAMS E/W 12/1 PADDY POWER

 

 

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