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2019 Yorkshire Cup tips - Godolphin's 11/2 chance can upset hot favourite in Friday's York feature

Brian Healy 15 May 2019
The Group Two Yorkshire Cup headlines Friday's third day of the Dante Festival meeting.

Brian Healy takes a runner-by-runner look ahead to Friday's feature ace at York, the Group Two Yorkshire Cup where he gives his big race selection.

The feature race of day three of the 2019 York Dante Festival meeting is the Yorkshire Cup, which goes to post at 3.00pm as the third race of another top-class seven-race card on the Knavesmire.

Boasting a first prize in excess of £90,000, this 1m6f contest forms part of the British Champions Series and is open to horses four years old and older. The race has been won by some notable notable names down through the years, including Stradivarius, Dartmouth, Clever Cookie, Red Cadeaux, Ask and Sergeant Cecil in recent years.

A field of eight runners head to post for the latest renewal of this classy stayers’ contest where defending champion Stradivarius (4/6, Coral) will bid to defend his crown.

John Gosden’s star stayer was unbeaten last term, claiming this prize enroute to landing the stayers’ Triple Crown where he added wins in the Ascot Gold Cup, Goodwood Cup, and the Lonsdale Cup back at this venue.

The Sea The Stars horse rounded off his campaign with a solid win over Thomas Hobson in the Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot, and the strong travelling sort is a tough and reliable sort who is effective on a range of underfoot conditions and distances.

He very much looks the one to beat again on his reappearance despite lacking a recent run and having to concede upwards of 3lbs to this field of rivals.

David Elsworth’s Desert Skyline (25/1, Paddy Power) chased home Stradivarius in this race twelve months ago, having finished third on his reappearance behind another smart stayer in Torcedor in the Sagaro Stakes.

However, that was as close as the Tamayuz gelding could get to John Gosden’s star and he was well-beaten behind that rival in five subsequent clashes so he clearly faces a very stiff task to lower the colours of the defending champion here.

Last seen finishing eighth of ten behind Morando at Newbury in last season’s St Simon Stakes, he may need this return to action for all this is probably Mission Impossible for him in any case to strike a telling blow against Stradivarius; while the ground may not be soft enough for him.

Aidan O’Brien sends over his Southern France (7/1, Bet365) to lock horns with Stradivarius, and the Galileo colt can be given a chance on the back of a pleasing reappearance in the recent Vintage Crop Stakes where he finished just one length in arrears of Master Of Reality.

A dual-winner last term, scoring wins at Leopardstown and Navan - the latter in Listed company - he acquitted himself well in Group company without seriously threatening, finishing seven lengths third behind Kew Gardens in the St Leger being his best performance of the season.

Seventh in the Cesarewitch, he will need to improve on his form to date, but with the Ballydoyle runners flying at present and hoovering up big prizes everywhere, it would be folly to think he weren’t capable of finding the necessary progress to have a big say.

If there is to be a shock in this race, then it could come from Godolphin runner ISPOLINI (11/2, William Hill) who has thrived this term following a break and having been gelded in the wake of a relatively successful debut season.

Placed in a trio of Group Three contests last term, including the Prix Du Lys at Longchamp, the Dubawi gelding was absent following that run until returning to action at Meydan in January where he came up just short behind Bin Battuta.

However, he built on that reappearance to strike back-to-back wins, including a defeat of Red Galileo in the Nad Al Sheba Trophy prior to chasing home Cross Counter in the Dubai Gold Cup on his final start in the Emirates.

Two miles possibly just stretched him on that occasion, but back at this distance and with race-fitness on his side, he could improve and he should ensure Stradivarius doesn’t get everything his own way in receipt of 3lbs; he has to be respected here for all he needs to find a jolt of improvement.

Mootasadir (14/1, Paddy Power) has progressed hand over fist on the all-weather, winning his last four starts which includes a Group Three contest at Dundalk last September and a Listed win at Kempton latest where he beat Extra Elusive by a half-length.

Hugo Palmer’s Dansili colt has however yet to show he can transfer his smart all-weather form onto grass, and he failed to beat a rival home on his last foray onto grass last August in a handicap at Newmarket.

He is an each-way player if he can replicate his all-weather performances onto grass, but that is far from certain to happen and he might struggle to get involved at this level on this surface.

Mildenberger (16/1, Bet365) is a smart sort at his best, winning the Listed Feilden Stakes on his reappearance last April before chasing home Roaring Lion here in the Dante Stakes next time.

Not seen again until looking in need of the run on his reappearance in an Epsom contest last month, Mark Johnston’s charge stepped up on that effort to finish third behind Communique at Newmarket earlier in the month in the Jockey Club Stakes, beaten around four lengths.

He could be worth a try at this longer trip, and the Teofilo colt remains relatively unexposed; but this is harder still locking horns with Stradivarius on his first try at this distance, and the yard have yet to fully hit its’ stride. 

Although entitled to post a solid effort, he’ll surely need more to feature.

Sevenna Star (40/1, William Hill) won twice last term, scoring at Windsor prior to gaining a short-head verdict over Ispolini at Sandown to win the Group Three Bet365 Classic Trial.

Things went wrong thereafter for the Redoute’s Choice gelding who subsequently beat only two home in the Epsom Derby, and following three months off he again proved disappointing when managing to beat only two rivals here behind Old Persian in the Great Voltigeur Stakes.

He has since left John Gosden’s yard in the wake of a dismal run at Ascot behind Ghostwatch in the Listed Noel Murless Stakes, where he failed to beat any rival and wind surgery and a move to John Ryan’s yard will need to have a significant positive effect if he’s to enjoy a reversal of fortunes.

He may need softer ground than this to be seen at his best in any case, and on recent performances he will be hard pushed to bounce back.

Completing the field, Aircraft Carrier (66/1, Bet365) is a second runner in the race for John Ryan, but the Declaration Of War colt is very much up against it at this level.

Formerly a smart prospect for Aidan O’Brien, he was a triple-winner on the all-weather over the winter months, scoring impressive wins at Wolverhampton and Chelmsford at this trip prior to stepping up to two miles to post a narrow success over Festival Of Ages back at Wolverhampton.

Two runs this spring and early-summer on the all-weather at Chelmsford and Lingfield have been underwhelming, and the prevailing ground conditions will be faster than anything he has encountered in his career thus far back on turf.

He has plenty to find even on the best of his form, and this looks too much of a test for the four-year old who is rated a full 20lbs below Stradivarius on official figures.


An on-song Stradivarius on his seasonal return will be very hard to beat as he bids to defend his crown, and John Gosden’s charge will take a world of stopping from registering a second win in this race.

However, if he is to prove vulnerable then this may be the time and ISPOLINI (11/2, William Hill) with the benefit of a recent run can serve it up to Gosden’s star stayer who may not be fully wound up and has to give 3lbs to the selection.

The Godolphin runner improved his form over the winter in Meydan, winning twice before chasing down Cross Counter in the Dubai World Cup, where he was beaten just over one length.

The return to this shorter trip looks a positive, having won both previous starts over this distance including the Nad Al Sheba Trophy, and while this will demand more from the son of Dubawi he remains unexposed as a stayer and he could have more to offer.

With the benefit of a recent run under his belt, he could be the one to expose any shortcomings in fitness with the defending champion, and while Stradivarius very much remains the one to beat, the Godolphin representative can give a good account for each-way backers looking to take on the favourite.


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2019 Yorkshire Cup tips - Godolphin's 11/2 chance can upset hot favourite in Friday's York feature

Brian Healy takes a runner-by-runner look ahead to Friday's feature ace at York, the Group Two Yorkshire Cup where he gives his big race selection.

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