Friday, July 12, 2013

The Wizard of Notts Recommends: View from connections ahead of the 54th John Smith's Cup at York on Saturday.

:July 12 2013, 11:02 BST

View from connections ahead of the 54th John Smith's Cup at York on Saturday.

Stencive (left): Drawn out wide once again
Stencive (left): Drawn out wide once again

               David Barron is slightly concerned about the prospect of quickening ground for Clon Brulee ahead of his hat-trick bid in the 54th John Smith's Cup at York on Saturday.
The chestnut gelding shaped with plenty of promise during his three-year-old season last summer, striking gold at Haydock and Chester, and he has taken his game to another level since returning from his winter break.
He backed up a smart comeback performance at Ripon with victory in the Zetland Gold Cup at Redcar and his trainer is now hoping conditions on the Knavesmire are suitable as he prepares to take his chance in this £150,000 contest.
"He's a very nice horse and hopefully progressive, but I would have loved a bit more cut in the ground for him," said Barron.
"I'm not saying he doesn't handle quicker ground, but we know he definitely likes a bit of ease in the ground. You can see that from his form.
"We'll see how it is riding. I always think the ground at York rides a little bit quicker than what they call it, so we'll have to see.
"His form is good and we like him a lot."
The Thirsk handler also saddles interesting outsider Tres Coronas.
Barron feels he too would prefer an easier surface, but the opportunity to run in such a lucrative event is too big to turn down.
He said: "He's another one who has always been at his best with a bit of cut in the ground, but these races don't come along every week and if you get into them you want to let them take their chance.
"He's in very good form as well."
Heading the betting for the extended 10-furlong event is the William Haggas-trained Stencive, who finished a fine second in the Duke of Edinburgh Handicap at Royal Ascot last month.
Haggas, who also runs Danchai, feels the market-leader has his work cut out breaking from stall 21 of 22 - although with the two reserves not running he does now move inside two berths.
The trainer said: "To have been drawn 20 at Royal Ascot and then 21 here is very frustrating - I mean what are the chances?
"It obviously makes life tough for him but he seems in very good form and I still think he will run well.
"Danchai ran as though he needed a step up in trip (at Sandown last week) and should be suited to York."
Mark Johnston's string are firing on all cylinders and the Middleham maestro has two major contenders in Star Lahib and Fennell Bay, first and third respectively in last weekend's Old Newton Cup at Haydock.
Star Lahib carries the colours of Jaber Abdullah and his racing manager, Bruce Raymond, feels the filly has a major chance if she can overcome a wide starting berth.
Raymond said: "Mark tells me she is in top form. She didn't really lose any condition after her race last week and I thought she won with a bit in hand. Once she hit the front it was all over.
"The biggest problem for her on Saturday is the draw (stall 18). I think she'd go there with a very good chance if she didn't have that draw to overcome.
"From there we're going to have to take the shortest route. She is a filly who likes to come from off the pace anyway, which is unusual for one of Mark's. The way she's going to be ridden we're going to need a bit of luck."
Niceofyoutotellme has won his last two starts at Kempton and Newmarket and trainer Ralph Beckett believes his four-year-old has plenty going for him ahead of his toughest assignment to date.
"He's done everything right this year and I think the track and the ground should suit him and the draw (stall 14) is ok," said the Andover-based handler.
"He's a horse who likes to be given time to find his rhythm, so we'll let him do that and take our time with him.
"It's taken a bit of time for him to reach this level, but at the same time his homework has always suggested he was capable of it.
"I was reading him wrong last year and ran him over a mile and a half. Hopefully I'm reading him a bit better this season."
Brian Ellison's Saptapadi has run well at York on a number of occasions, notably when fifth in this race and the Ebor two years ago.
He is 11lb lower in the weights now and the trainer is hopeful his charge is ready to bounce back to his best.
Ellison said: "He scoped badly after his last run at Pontefract, but seems fine now and we're looking forward to running him.
"He seems to like York. He ran well in this race two years ago and ran well at the track on his first start this year.
"I don't think the trip is a problem. He has that much ability I don't think it makes too much difference."
Ellison also runs Old Newton Cup ninth Beaumont's Party, who he believes will be suited by this shorter distance.
"He ran well last week and I think a mile and a half just stretches him a bit. A mile and a quarter is his best trip," said the trainer.
"It's not ideal to be running in two big races in the space of a week, but he seems well and we'll let him take his chance."

The Wizard of Notts has stirred the cauldron and:

Wiz's main bet for Saturday comes in the opener at 1.40pm. Namewhatyoulike (12/1). Each way double it with Niceofyoutotellme (8/1) in the 2.55pm for a massive payout.

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