A quiet weekend before the fanfare of York’s Ebor festival next week and sadly the issue of small fields is clear for all to see with just fifteen set to line-up for Ripon’s season highlight, the Great St Wilfrid. Decent money on a Saturday afternoon can’t attract the runners with quick ground on the back of the recent heatwave one reason trainers are keeping their runners under wraps, but we hope the stars are unleashed on the Knavesmire this week.
And with that in our thought’s, lets try and bolster the betting bank for those fabulous four days ahead.
Just the fifteen runner’s line-up for the Great St Wilfrid this year, the smallest field since 2015 and resulting in the consolation race scrapped!
Michael Dods has had recent sprint handicap success at Goodwood, so it is interesting connections have decided to remove Blackrod from Denton Hall and send him to Ed Bethell’s yard in Middleham. He was sent off just 11/2 when seventh in the Wokingham, just behind Summerghand, and is just 4lb above his Newmarket winning mark in April. He is lightly raced, has lots of big field handicap form and is a major player.
Summerghand will be running in his second Great St Wilfrid, having finished runner-up to Dods’ Dakota Gold in 2019. He keeps his form well, but its just one win in his last fifteen races despite taking in the seasons most competitive races, although he is handicapped to strike having won the 2020 Stewards Cup off a 10lb higher mark.
Justanotherbottle won this race twelve months ago and returns 13lb higher having also won here last month to maintain his 100% course record at three from three.
The man to follow though is Tim Easterby who has won two of the last five running’s and took it with the great Pipalong in 1999.
He saddles both SNASH and Hyperfocus and it is the former who gets the nod. The 4yo has struck form lately, landing a Thirsk handicap in June, the form of which worked out ok, before a good fourth up in class and trip at York last month. He then went to Ayr four weeks ago, beating the consistent Aberama Gold, which earnt him a 3lb hike. He was rated 98 in his time with Charles Hills’ and now the Easterby team seem to have found the key to him, he can take his biggest prize to date.
The feature race of the weekend is the Group 2 Hungerford Stakes and it can go the way of Chris Wall’s 5yo mare, DOUBLE OR BUBBLE.
Her last two starts came at the top level, the Platinum Jubilee and the July Cup and she wasn’t disgraced in either, being bang in contention at the furlong pole at Royal Ascot and one of the last off the bridle at Newmarket when fairing best of those on the stands side.
She isn’t too far off the market leaders on ratings and her seven-furlong record on ground good or quicker reads 111222. This will be just her fourth start of the season too so should be fresher than other main contenders and ticks plenty of boxes with her 3lb sex allowance.
Pogo is an admirable 6yo for Charles Hills who sets the standard on his Lennox Stakes third and will ensure a decent pace as he likes to go from the front. Tiber Flow won here earlier in the season for William Haggas but it’s his sixth start of the season and was beaten over four lengths in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot when last seen.
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