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Monday 9 May 2011

The Grand Old Duke of York !!

The Knavesmire on Wednesday sees 14 runners lineup for the Group 2 Duke of York Blue Square Stakes over 6f. At the top of the weights is Markab who has a 5lb penalty for his Group 1 success in the Haydock Sprint Cup. The going is Good and the Clerk of the course had this to say today "We won't be watering tonight but will monitor conditions through the week. Despite a record-breaking dry spring, we are very pleased with the state of the ground. We had a lot of rain on Sunday so there is plenty of moisture in the ground and there is also a dense covering of grass."

Markab has not run for 249 days, his last 4 wins have been on Good to Firm although he has won with cut in the distant past. He won first time out last season albeit that was a in a Class 2 Conditions race for which he was marginally best in at the weights against his 7 opponents. He reportedly ran too free when beaten into 6th behind Regal Parade on going that was softer than ideal (described as Good) and he may find a similar fate here.
Dalghar has been switched to Andrew Balding from France, however he may need his first run and this maybe a bit too sharp for him and he is best watched.
Delegator has never run over a trip this short and it remains to be see how he fares, as it is he only just beat Sir Gerry over 7f at Newbury last September. His stable commented the following recently as to whether he will be suited by 6f "Delegator has shown a lot of speed in his races and I think that six furlongs is the right distance for him to try now, he worked well on Sunday morning and he is in good form at the moment. He will improve for his first start of the season, but I'm looking forward to seeing him run a nice race."
Genki is 5lb better off with Markab for a 2 1/4 length beating in the Haydock Sprint Cup and he is also likely to appreciate this going. He has been showing a consistenet level of form and won first time out this season in the Abernant Stakes at Newmarket, albeit only 3 3/4 lengths covered the first 10 home.
Hamish McGonagall has never won over 6f and this seems a difficult race for him to break that trait.
Hitchens ran very well last time out, although that was in the Listed Cammidge Trophy, but he is unlikely to appreciate any cut in the going and that may be a step too far against this opposition, although his trainer thinks he is up to Group 2 level.
Inler was only having his sixth race when a 1 3/4 length 5th behind Genki in the Abernant and he could be capable of springing a suprise and the stable said the following recently "We were delighted with his comeback at Newmarket which will have blown away the cobwebs for this talented performer. He improved throughout the second half of last year and having continued to work well since that comeback, he deserves his shot at this level".
Prime Defender ran 6th in the Abernant and was then beaten into 10th behind Pastoral Player in a Class 2 handicap also at the same track. Stable had this to say about him recently "He attempts to retain his crown in The Duke of York Stakes. It was a shock when he won last year and on his form this year it looks like it will be a shock if he wins again, but if he turns up on the day in the right mood who knows what he is capable of. He clearly likes York as he won this race and was only touched off for third by a nose in the Nunthorpe, over an inadequate trip, in his two visits to the track last year"
Rain Delayed has run well over 5f on his last 2 starts and he was running on well behind Tangerine Trees in the Palace House Stakes and although this may stretch him a little he should get the trip on his Newmarket run and he should be thereabouts again. His stable said the following recently "We've got to see if he can do it over six furlongs. His ideal trip would be a stiff five, he seems well and he deserves a chance. He ran over six at Doncaster but it didn't tell us anything as he got boxed in. He will enjoy the bit of juice in the ground."
Regal Parade has good form over the distance being a previous Haydock Sprint Cup winner (Good to Soft) and he will have no problems with going should it remain so. He went for a pipe opener in Ireland at the beginning of April but things didnt go to plan and if he turns up on his game he should go very close.
Kevin Ryan is testing the water with some of his better handicappers in Group races and Tiddliwinks ran consistently well in Class 2 handicaps last season and it remains to be seen if he is good enough for this.
Triple Aspect won a Listed race over 6f at Windsor last year in May when beating Sir Gerry by 3/4 length, he is probably more comfortable on firmer going and he has bit to make up on Genki on previous form.
Rose Blossom is very speedy and has been flying at home according to her jockey, however on this first run back she may go off faster than ideal and may get run down by either Genki or Regal Parade.
Richard Fahey had this to say about her chance "We've an exciting runner in Rose Blossom in the Duke Of York. We've been very, very pleased with her work this year, she always works well because she's such a fast filly, but she seems a little more professional in her mind this time round. We're hoping for a big run and if she finishes in the first three we'd be delighted. The ground would again be a worry. She loves fast ground and has never encountered a softish surface so that has to be a concern but we'll run her and let her take her chance".
Finally Ladies are Forever won the 2yo trophy at Redcar last season, she is related to Handicapper Hoof It and I will have a watching brief on her for now although her stable said the following about her recently "She is a lot better filly than the one that ran in the Nell Gwyn, she didn't really act on the track, or quite get home over seven furlongs, so we are back to sprinting."

In my view it will be difficult to keep both Regal Parade(7/1) and Genki(13/2) out of the frame as they are both proven over the distance and will have no trouble with any ease in the going.