However, the Ballydoyle handler has saddled 17 runners in the past decade with only Idaho successful two years ago so CROSS COUNTER (York, nap, 3.00) could be a live alternative, even if the form of his Gordon Stakes win at Goodwood has been queried by some. In beating three rivals including Dee Ex Bee (didn’t enjoy the fast ground), it would be foolish to go overboard about the performance, however the clock suggested it was a marked step up from the colt’s Ascot success in a handicap on his previous start and it would be dangerous to underestimate his ability.
Wells Farhh Go, who put himself in the St Leger picture with a terrific staying performance in the Bahrain Trophy, may offer most resistance. However, it looks like more is required here, but as a winner of the Acomb Stakes 12 months ago, he has valuable track knowledge and was only beaten 6l in a Dante over a wholly inadequate trip.
POET’S WORD (York, 3.35) possesses the speed for a mile and a quarter, the stamina to win over further and the determination and attitude to join the impressive roll call of past winners of this prestigious event.
Brilliantly nurtured by his master trainer, the five-year-old overcame an uncompromising track position to overhaul his talented stablemate Crystal Ocean in the King George last time, producing a terrific turn of foot from the home turn to reel in a horse which had poached a vital advantage. Victory required ability and tenacity in equal measures and, with a raft of useful three-year-olds in opposition today, more of the same will be required to complete a hat-trick of Group 1 successes this season.
Poet’s Word has rarely disappointed his fans though, with consistency proving his watchword in a 16-race career and he boasts all the attributes to follow in the hoofprints of last year’s winner Ulysses and claim success in what could prove one of the races of the season.
The day one York finale is a fine puzzle to test those still standing but EVIE SPEED (York, nap, 4,50) looks to have what it takes to win this 20-runner cavalry charge having made all to win at Ripon last time.
Four of the last five winners of this 6f sprint have made all and the way the selection flew from the stalls on only her third run to boss the field and score by over three lengths, eased down, bodes well. The victory was no bolt from the blue as she’d looked a horse to follow on debut and still clocked well in a decent Doncaster novice event despite losing a shoe. She could have a bright future
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