The Group Two Duke of York Stakes is one of the highlights of York’s Dante meeting, and the quality sprint contest goes to post on the opening day of the fantastic three-day fixture, which this year is Wednesday 11 May.
With an off-time of 3.15pm, the high-class contest has attracted a fantastic entry, and the fast and furious six furlong dash isn’t a race to miss!
Won in the past by some top-class performers, including Maarek, Society Rock, Amadeus Wolf and Monseur Bond amongst others, the race is sure to throw up plenty of classy types.
Current ante-post favourite Twilight Son
) is likely to prove a popular choice on his first run of the season, and Henry Candy has few peers when it comes to high-class sprinters. He has one such type in the Kyllachy colt who has won five of his six starts, which include a Haydock Group One success over the potentially reopposing Strath Burn when landing the Betfred Sprint Cup.
A course and distance winner, the Kyllachy colt found only the top-class Muhaarar too strong on his final start of last season in the Qipco British Champions Sprint, beaten two lengths but finishing clear of a host of top sprinting rivals which included Strath Burn, Maarek
) and Danzeno
Twilight Son and Strath Burn could reoppose in the Duke Of York.
Maarek doesn’t look the force of old, and Danzeno is a quirky sort who whilst a classy performer often gives the impression he is saving something for himself, so it could be difficult for either to reverse that form.
Strath Burn has been very highly tried throughout his career to date since winning on debut at Newbury prior to his disqualification from that race following the discovery of a prohibited substance.
He ‘won’ that race impressively, and showed he was a high class performer throughout that season when placing in a French Group Two behind Kool Company, and over the minimum trip at Newmarket when runner-up to Royal Rasalma in the Group Three Cornwallis Stakes.
Having run much better than his finishing position suggests on his seasonal return last term in the Pavilion Stakes at Ascot, where he might just have had too much use made of him on his first run; he bounced back to score in a maiden at Doncaster prior to a win in the Group Three Hackwood Stakes at Newbury.
He almost collared Twilight Son at Haydock, where he came with a storming late run to go down by just a short-head to Henry Candy’s charge, with Magical Memory in third and Danzeno further behind; and his final start in the Champions Sprint Stakes can be overlooked as he finished lame in that race.
The Equiano colt remains a top prospect for the top sprint contests this term, and he can go close if fit and well to go on his return.
Magical Memory comes into the race on the back of a win over Tupi and Mattmu in the Abernant Stakes at Newmarket earlier in the month, and the Zebedee gelding had previously shown himself a strong performer with back-to-back wins in handicap company at Newmarket at Goodwood prior to his excellent third behind Twilight Son and Strath Burn at Haydock.
He is clearly going the right way, and looks sure to give a good account of himself with the benefit of that run under his belt.
Much will depend on the ground for Mecca’s Angel
) who has developed into a top-class sprinter last term, although the Dark Angel filly does seem to ned some cut in the ground to be seen at her best, and she will be an unlikely participant should the ground dry out.
Michael Dods’ charge raced three times last season, winning the Prix de Saint-Georges at Longchamp on her seasonal debut, and she possibly just found the ground too quick when beaten a neck by Stepper Point in the Group Two Sapphire Stakes at the Curragh on her next start.
Mecca's Angel is a doubtful participant, but would surely go close if lining up.
However, faced with a slightly softer surface on her final run of the season in the Nunthorpe, she trounced a strong field of performers that included Queen Mary Stakes winner Acapulco, as well as well as the likes of Mattmu
(16/1, Sky Bet
), Sole Power
) and Muthmir
While there are slight doubts over the additional furlong in this contest, with all her winning form coming over the minimum trip; she wasn’t beaten far over six furlongs as a juvenile in the Two-year Old Trophy at Redcar. Her run at York on her final start of last term suggested that six furlongs would very much be in range for her now.
Of course, the ground will be a deciding factor with her trainer reluctant to allow his charge to take her chance on faster ground, and it could be the case that Dods will continue to play the waiting game with the Dark Angel filly, and he has dropped big hints that his flying filly will wait for the Temple Stakes at Haydock to make her seasonal return.
Mattmu and Muthmir can both progress for their respective seasonal debuts, where the former finished third behind Magical Memory in the Abernant Stakes at Newmarket; while the latter was a close-up third in the Listed Hever Sprint Stakes at Lingfield prior to running a solid fifth in the Al Quoz at Meydan during the Dubai World Cup meeting.
Both are top-class performers, and it is difficult to rule either out of making their mark in this race.
Mattmu (right) could better his runner-up effort in the race twelve months ago. BOBBY’S KITTEN
(12/1, William Hill
) catches the eye, given the Kitten’s Joy horse was amongst the top sprinters in the United States when trained by Chad Brown, finishing third in the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf prior to winning the Breeders’ Cup Turf the following year amongst his most notable achievements.
The Kitten’s Joy horse joined top Irish trainer Dermot Weld following a fourth to Mongolian Saturday at Keeneland on his final start in the United States, and he made the perfect start to his new life when running out an impressive wide-margin winner of a Listed Cork event last month, beating Flight Risk by the better part of ten lengths.
Despite having won over one mile in the past, this six furlong trip clearly holds no fears for the five-year old, who looks to be a versatile performer over both trip and ground; and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see him in the shake-up if building on that run.
He may well have plenty more to offer, and he could be very much a dark horse to consider.
DUKE OF YORK STAKES SELECTION - BOBBY’S KITTEN