On to day three of the Dante Festival Friday on the Knavesmire and so far so average with 2 visits to the pay-out counter from 6 bets placed meaning I am showing -0.7 to level stakes going in to the final day.
They get underway Friday at 2.20 with the Listed Langleys Solicitors British EBF Marygate Fillies' Stakes over five furlongs. It’s hard to know what those of these that have run actually achieved but I was very impressed with The Godolphin filly Strings Of Life on her debut at HQ last month. I liked the way she picked up when the penny dropped and quickened nicely to take up the lead before being eased close home to win by a cosy half-length. She looks all about speed, half sister to two sprint winners, and at 13-2 she’s worth a bob or two. No Lippy is the other that had caught my eye previously, she arrives two from two, and is the obvious danger.
The Listed Longines Irish Champions Weekend Fillies' Stakes at 2.55 over the mile isn’t perhaps the strongest Listed event you will ever see and on paper looks a decent opportunity for Threading. That said the G.2 Lowther Stakes she won as a two-year-old isn’t setting the formbook alight and she was only seventh in the G.3 Nell Gwyn Stakes weakening somewhat tamely when the taps were turned on. I am prepared to take her on and she has drifted on the market. Sheikha Reika finally broke her maiden on her 3yo debut at HQ last month winning with what appeared plenty in hand having finished second on all three starts at two, including to Soliloquy on debut. She is open to improvement obviously and the yard of Roger Varian is bang in form at the moment. She is bred to be decent by Shamardal, multiple G.1 winner who has become a leading sire whose progeny progress, out of Screen Star, dam of Lumiere amongst other winners, and at 2-1 is the one for me.
Last year’s Group One Goodwood Cup winner Stradivarius will begin his campaign for staying honours in 2018 when he lines-up for the Group Two Yorkshire Cup at York at 3.30. John Gosden’s four0year-old lowered the colours of Triple G favourite Big Orange in the Goodwood Cup as well as finishing third in both the G.1 St Leger and G.2 Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup last season. He is an exciting prospect for Cup races this season and should prove too good for the opposition here before bigger targets later in the summer. 10-11 is short but he looks a solid bet. Connections of Max Dynamite will be hoping a return to the Flat can rekindle his enthusiasm but he looks set for a place at best.
Elsewhere Herculean makes his eagerly-awaited return to the track in the Pegasus Profiles Flying Horse Novice Stakes at 4.25 over at Newmarket. The son of Frankel out of Group One-winning mare African Rose won his only start at two in some style and went straight into my, and no doubt many other, notebooks. He is unlikely to be a price worth punting on – already odds-on on the exchanges, but he is one to watch. Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for Herculean’s owner-breeder Khalid Abdullah, said: “He was in over seven furlongs at Newbury, but we felt a mile would be more suitable. He has taken a little time to come to hand, but Roger is happy with him now and this will give us a good idea of where we are heading after this. Given his breeding and the fact he won well on his debut, he was always going to create a bit of chatter. The form of that Ascot race looks pretty solid and the horse himself has done well. He was a bit wintry, but he has come on well.”