2019 York Stakes tips – Balding’s 9/2 chance can get back on the scoresheet with a Bang in Saturday feature
Brian Healy gives his runner-by-runner thoughts on Saturday’s big race field for the Group Two York Stakes, the feature race of the day on the Knavesmire.
The feature race of Saturday’s racecard at York – the Group Two York Stakes – may only have attracted six runners, but the small field oozes quality and could arguably be considered as a Group One contest given the quality of the entry for the ten furlongs prize.
Getting underway at 3.15pm as the third race of the afternoon, the classy Group Two contest carries a near-£70,000 first prize for the winner, and the action will be shown live as part of the ITV Racing schedule for Saturday.
Ante-post favourite for the race, Sangarius, may have been ruled out of the contest but there are still several notable names likely to line up for this valuable prize, and Brian Healy takes a runner-by-runner look at the potential field.
Mark Johnston’s Elarqam (5/1, Coral) has won two of his last three starts, scoring in Listed company at Goodwood and then getting back to winning ways with a victory at Sandown in the Listed Gala Stakes where the Frankel colt beat Extra Elusive by a head.
Third in this race twelve months ago behind Thundering Blue, the Johnston runner was beaten into third behind Addeybb in this year’s Wolferton Stakes and that rival reopposes here.
He might have been unsuited by the softer ground, and quicker conditions are likely to be more suitable so there may not be too much between the pair this time around, with Mark Johnston’s charge enjoying a 3lbs pull at the weights.
Conversely, Addeybb (6/1, Bet365) may find this ground on the quick side with the Pivotal gelding having shown his best form with cut in the ground.
A smart three-year old, he continued his progression last term with a facile Doncaster Lincoln win, after which he also win the Bet365 Mile at this venue. Although he struggled subsequently in a pair of Group One contests, he ran much better on his final outing of the season when his sights were lowered into Listed class where he finished third in the Churchill Stakes.
Possibly in need of the run behind Forest Ranger at Chester on his reappearance, he travelled well in the Wolferton in first-time cheekpieces to score a shade readily, and he looks sure to post another bold bid.
He may just find the faster ground against him however, and he could prove vulnerable in the conditions.
BANGKOK (9/2, William Hill) stepped up markedly on his juvenile form to win back-to-back on his first two outings this term which included a ready defeat of Technician to land the Bet365 Classic Trial.
That win prompted a crack at the Epsom Derby where Andrew Balding’s charge failed to handle the track and he trailed in last-but-one in the colts’ Classic having been quietly fancied to run well.
The Australia colt showed that run to be an aberration next time, finding only Japan too strong in the King Edward VII Stakes despite meeting with some trouble in running although he was no match for the easy winner who has struck again since.
That was a good effort, and he may well appreciate more a return to ten furlongs where he is 2-2 over the trip, and with the prospect of quicker ground in his favour then it would be no surprise to see him getting back on the scoresheet.
Forest Ranger (10/1, Bet365) is very capable of taking a hand in the finish,and Richard Fahey’s classy Lawman gelding showed his best when beating Matterhorn to win the Group Two Huxley Stakes at Chester when last seen.
The five-year old was winning that race for the second consecutive year, and his three-year old form saw him contest with credit against the likes of Beat The Bank, Barney Roy and Mustashry although he failed to add to his seasonal tally following a win on his reappearance.
Having won his first two starts last term, he struggled somewhat thereafter including when only fifth in this race last year, although he rounded off his season with a near-miss neck runner-up effort behind Euginio at Newmarket in the Darley Stakes.
He perhaps made the best use of his fitness advantage when scoring at Chester last time – Addeybb only fourth – but he may struggle on these terms to uphold that form given he has to concede weight to this field of rivals, and he could prove vulnerable as a result.
Knight To Behold (14/1, William Hill) won two of his five starts last term, which included the Lingfield Derby Trial and a French Group Two contest, although he disappointed on his final outing of the campaign at Longchamp when beating only one home behind Alignement in the Prix Dollar.
Ed Dunlop’s charge did make a promising reappearance when finding only Crystal Ocean too good in the Gordon Richards Stakes on his reappearance; but he subsequently failed to deliver at Longchamp last time when beating only two home behind Zabeel Prince in the Group One Prix d’Ispahan although he crossed the line only four lengths’ adrift.
Usually a front-runner, he is entitled to run well on his best form although others hold stronger claims and first-time blinkers applied will need to have a positive effect if he’s to be seriously competitive here.
Completeing the field, Regal Reality (11/8, Coral) is a lightly-raced sort with just eight starts under her belt including a winning debut at Yarmouth back in September 2017.
Since then, Sir Michael Stoute’s charge has progressed to win the Group Three Thoroughbred Stakes at Goodwood twelve months ago, after which he bagged successive bronze medals in outings at Haydock and Newmarket respectively,
The Intello gelding has continued in good form this season, finishing third to Beat The Bank on his reappearance at Sandown in April and then beating Matterhorn back there in May to claim the Brigadier Gerard Stakes.
Far from disgraced in the Coral Eclipse Stakes where he finished three lengths’ third behind Enable, he likely won’t be far away with a repeat of that effort and he looks to hold solid claims.
A cracking renewal of this Group Two prize, with BANGKOK (9/2, William Hill) taken to get back to winning ways.
Andrew Balding’s star is 2-2 over this trip, winning his first two starts of the season over the distance before finding Epsom against him in the Derby.
He ran well over the longer trip last time out at Royal Ascot behind Japan, who has won again since, and a repeat of that effort could well see him go close.
The return to ten furlongs is very much in his favour, and he caught the eye travelling strongly at Ascot before meeting trouble in running. He probably wouldn’t have beaten the winner with a clear run, but it wouldn’t come as a huge shock to see him posting a big effort in this race under De Sousa.
2019 YORK STAKES SELECTION – BANGKOK (9/2, William Hill)