Day 2 of the Ebor meeting and the predicted rain on Tuesday afternoon and again overnight, threatens to complicate matters, with the safest option at this time appearing to be to treat the ground as Good to Soft at best, with the possibility of some soft patches.
The Lowther Stakes opens the card with Royal Ascot’s Queen Mary Stakes runner up Sacred setting the standard having found only the American challenger Campanelle too good, and herself finishing clear of the remainder. The extra furlong here shouldn’t be a problem, but as she has yet to encounter anything softer than good ground, odds of 2/1 mean that she can be passed over.
Santosha is second favourite and comes here from a win in the Princess Margaret Stakes but the stable haven’t had a winner since then, 25 days ago, and it may pay at the prices to take a chance on UMM KULTHUM who overcame considerable inexperience to make a winning debut at Thirsk last month. The bare form is nothing special, but the extra furlong here should certianly be a help and the fourth home gave the form a boost when winning at Pontefract.
Your guess is as good as mine as to whether this easier ground is any good for her, but at double figure odds we can pay to find out.
Next up is the valuable sales race and the question is whether you want to be with, or against the clear form choice Devious Company. All his four runs have been at 7f and his Superlative Stakes second has been boosted since and he certainly didn’t go backwards when runner-up in another Group 2 at Goodwood. He is clearly the likeliest winner, but with the ground an unknown I prefer to take a punt with one who has at least shown ability with cut in the ground.
It was an ordinary contest that OUT THE HAT took at Hamilton recently, but that represented a big step forward from his debut and the experienced runner-up that day, hacked up in a race at Chepstow last weekend. Clearly this is an altogether tougher task, but at huge odds he is worth a speculative punt with extra place(s) on offer.
The Clipper Logistics Handicap at 2-45 is always one of the strongest contests of its type in the season and this year is no exception with the James Tate trained Top Rank many peoples idea of the proverbial Group horse in a handicap. He does actually run here in preference to the Group 3 Strensall Stakes at the weekend and he did exactly what the market expected of him when he toyed with the opposition at Thirsk on his recent reappearance.
The 12lb rise incurred for that is fair enough but this is a tougher grade with the likes of the hugely progressive Prompting, Royal Ascot winner Sir Busker, who never saw daylight behind Prompting in the Golden Mile and MONTATHAM among his rivals. The last named was the only runner from a single figure draw to feature at the finish in the Royal Hunt Cup, and he took revenge on the horse who beat him on that occasion, at Sandown subsequently. William Haggas withdrew him on the day at Goodwood last month due to the fast ground, which lends me to think the bit of cut he will encounter today should be fine.
He just about gets the vote, though at bigger prices I was tempted to include the Ian Williams trained Walhaan who was just about the biggest eyecatcher of the season when second at 100/1 at Ascot last time. The huge price that day indicates that connections felt he was nowhere near the form he showed in France last year, but with few miles on the clock there should be more to come and I wouldn’t put anyone off backing him at around the 16/1 mark.
1-45 Umm Kulthum 1pt ew 12/1 general
2-15 Out The Hat 1pt ew 25/1 general (4 places)
2-45 Montatham 1pt ew 15/2 Hills (5 places)