Thursday marks the second of four fantastic days at York for the Ebor Festival.
The action on Day 2 begins with the Lowther Stakes at 1.50 – when I have very high hopes for an Aidan O’Brien filly – and concludes shortly after the last of seven races at 5.20.
1.50 – Cherry Blossom @ 9/4
Relief Rally, an impressive winner of the Super Sprint Stakes at Newbury last month, looked to have the Lowther Stakes at her mercy until a certain Aidan O’Brien supplemented Cherry Blossom.
The two-year-old daughter of No Nay Never is clearly held in high regard at Ballydoyle, which was immediately evident when she was thrown into a Listed contest for her racecourse debut.
Beaten only 1¼ by the 90-rated winner Tiger Belle that day, it was a very promising effort – and she confirmed that promise when bolting up by 5L in a Curragh maiden next time out, beating one for Darren Bunyan who had the rest of the field a further 5L behind.
That form is already right up there with the market principals, she’s open to major improvement and trip/ground are ideal. What’s not to like?
3.35 – Al Husn @ 6/1
The feature and sole Group 1 on Thursday is the Yorkshire Oaks – a 1m4f contest for fillies & mares aged three and above.
At time of writing, I see little value in either Savethelastdance or Bluestocking. The former has to be deemed vulnerable on this rattling quick ground, something which you could argue also applies to the latter.
The one I like against them is four-year-old Al Husn for the red-hot Roger Varian.
She has improved with every run of her career so far, culminating in a Group 1 victory in the Nassau Stakes at Glorious Goodwood earlier this month.
That’s the best form on offer from this field and I see no reason why the Dubawi filly, who should love this step up to 1m4f, can’t improve again.
4.45 – Aragon Castle @ 6/1
My third and final selection for Day 2 is Andrew Balding’s Aragon Castle for this Nursery Handicap over 7f.
The son of Territories has a seriously progressive profile. The ability he showed on debut compared to his comfortable 3L maiden success at Epsom late last month is like chalk and cheese.
He beat one of Roger Varian’s called Mission To Moon that day who is now rated 90 having made lightwork of 12 rivals off a mark of 81 at Glorious Goodwood.
That piece of form alone leads me to believe that the selection, who holds a pair of Group 2 entries for later in the season, has a fair bit in hand off his current mark of 86.
If I’m right, he ought to be going very close indeed under Oisin Murphy for the first time.