As I suggested yesterday, SOUL SISTER was the wrong price, and Frankie duly bought the little 18/1 beauty home in The Musidora, to make a relatively solid contribution to The Royal Ascot badge fund. Huzzah, I thought. In fact, I had already huzzahed AZURE BLUE home for Team Kneesup at 12/1, so the whole day was +44 pts, a rare but beautiful moment. I invested a little of that in SOUL SISTER for The Oaks at 4s.
Inevitably the Almighty, who hates hubris in any form, pointed his finger at my Ascot fund and said, “Let there be darkness,” and Lo, there was. As you might remember, the Kneesups are currently engaged in the “doing up” of the downsized Chateau d’If. This exercise one would have thought should have been made considerably more manageable because we had effectively reduced our total living area by 50% last year. On the inverse of the coin toss of life, is the storage container parked on the M4 – which costs, coincidentally, precisely the same per month as a Royal Enclosure badge. This holds a large quantity of our existing furniture, for which we have no space. It transpires that neither our old furniture in the Giant Container nor the little furniture that we have already installed will suit the soon-to-be-decorated Chalet d’If. Thus, at the local auction, which took place today, The Hon got some more furniture that will better suit our future needs.
There is a tiny hint of New Lamps for Old about this exercise, but as she brightly observed at the close of the auction, at least you’ve won some money to pay for it. Amongst our new treasures is an old-fashioned wine rack that will take 15 cases – I fear that isn’t going to be enough.
Talking of making decisions that can easily lead to the over-consumption of alcohol, here are the selections for Day 2 of The York Dante meeting.
1:50 YORK Lindum York Hcap Cl2 (4yo+ 0-105) 5f 14 run
Wide open, and I fancy several here. MONDAMMEJ was running on when 5th LTO and the Handicapper has dropped him down to his last winning mark. 16/1 is far too big. ILLUSIONIST has good York form and is not unfancied. CLARENDON HOUSE goes well fresh, and his seasonal debuts should be heeded. He was over-faced when running in The Nunthorpe last season and back in handicap company has a chance to show off his early season sparkle. MOUNTAIN PEAK won a decent Ascot handicap last July, and he may be one who simply performs better in the first half of the season.
MONDAMMEJ 2 pts e/w – CLARENDON HOUSE 2 pts e/w
2:05 SALISBURY Highclere Castle Gin Fillies’ Conditions Stakes Cl3 (2yo) 5f 6 run
Oh for heaven’s sake – a race named after Highcleres’s own Gin, probably personally crafted by The Countess from her very own crushed botanicals, and the favourite for the race is called…
JUNIPER BERRIES 4 pts Win
2:25 YORK Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Middleton Fillies’ Stakes (G2) Cl1 (4yo+) 1m2½f 8 run
The field may find FREE WIND’s 3lb advantage too much of a handicap – but bear in mind she has also only had seven races in her 3-year career – admittedly winning 5 of them. She must be quite fragile or a total Madam, but she only had one run last season when she won the G2 Lancashire Oaks despite a hindered passage in the last quarter of a mile. I wonder whether it might be too short for her, but she is top-rated and getting a few lbs. SEA SILK ROAD, who was 2nd in The Ribblesdale, looks better value. One stat that does worry me is that since the race became a G2 in 2010, all ten winners have run in a G1 race, and three have won. ARISTIA is a G1 winner but is also a five-year-old with a penalty. FREE WIND and SEA SILK ROAD have not. That brings TOSKANA BELLE and ROGUE MILLENIUM into consideration. I will suggest the latter for small stakes – I am very uncertain about this one.
ROGUE MILLENIUM 1½ pts e/w
3:00 YORK Sky Bet Hambleton Hcap Cl2 (4yo+) 1m 20 run
BRUNCH is a decent handicapper and ran 2nd in this race in 2021 and was 2nd in 2022 off 104. When he runs ina Class I he loses – simples. Today BRUNCH runs off 103 and for a horse that has a York handicap record of 1122 16/1 is way too toppy. Last year’s winner CRUYFF TURN is carrying a lower weight this year.
BRUNCH 3 pts e/w – CRUFF TURN 2 pts e/w
3:35 YORK Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes (G2) Cl1 (3yo) 1m2½f 12 run
PASSENGER debuted this season, winning the Wood Ditton in impressive style LTO. Don’t fret about this because Stouteys winner last year, Desert Crown also had a single career run. I’m assuming that the great Bajan knows how to take this race, having won it six times and with three of those going on to win The Derby! THE FOXES has solid credentials and is the probable value in the race – but is being backed as I write. He was 9th in The Chesham last season, and then some huge Penny dropped, and he just kept on getting better, taking The Royal Lodge at Newmarket on his final start. The three he beat that day have all won since, and one of them, FLYING HONOURS, is third in the market for this. He ran out of puff in The Craven, but the general consensus is that means he’ll strip fitter. For the Derby market to be impressed, the winner must win this by at least three lengths. WHITE BIRCH is a possible “under the radar” threat.
PASSENGER 4 pts Win
4:10 YORK British EBF 40th Anniversary Westow Stakes (Listed Race) Cl1 (3yo) 5f 11 run
SILENT WORDS won her only start as a 2yo in a race that has produced four winners from those behind. Daniel Tudhope is in the plate and has won this four times for three different trainers, three of those coming in the last five years. Her seasonal debut saw her beaten a head by a Varian hotpot; she will have come on for that. PILLOW TALK wasn’t quite good enough in The Norfolk last year, and she looks e/w value.
SILENT WORDS 4 pts e/w