Wednesday 17 January 2018

Blissful Moment can bring Stoute joy

THE two Irish-trained challengers in this afternoon's Betfred Ebor face a stiff task if they are to bring the prestigious York trophy back this way for a third year in a row.

Sesenta and Dirar famously scorched to glory in the Knavesmire handicap in 2009 and 2010.

Today, Tony Martin sends Salute Him into battle in the one-mile-six-furlong showpiece, while David Wachman relies on Mount Athos.

Salute Him, the longer-priced of the two at up to 33/1, appeals more as the type to pinch a place.

Fourth in the race 12 months ago, he has been campaigned quite sparingly this term, this being just his fifth engagement to date.

While he hasn't been running badly, his latest third at Bellewstown at the beginning of July is the best he has managed so far, and he has consequently dropped five pounds in the ratings from the mark he ran off in 2010.

That leaves him with six pounds less to carry here, so it's not out of the equation that he could go close again.

Saptapadi has been one of the more popular of the 20 contenders in recent days. He has run a couple of eye-catching races this term, including when a two-and-a-half-length fifth to Wednesday's Group One winner Twice Over here last month.

However, the last horse to carry more than 9st 4lb to victory in this was the Jonjo O'Neill-ridden Sea Pigeon in 1979, so 9st 5lb could scupper Saptapadi's chance.

Modun and Tactician are others to consider, but Blissful Moment is preferred.

Seemingly passed over by Kieren Fallon in favour of Saptapadi, Michael Stoute's four-year-old is massively unexposed.

Twice a winner from four starts last term, he has finished second in two good handicaps on both of his outings this year. When chasing home today's top weight Fox Hunt over a mile and a half at Royal Ascot in June, he had four subsequent winners behind, yet he now meets that one on nine pounds better terms off just 8st 12lb.

Blissful Moment steps up to today's trip for a first time here, but stamina has always looked his forte, so 12/1 could well prove to be a generous offering about Tom Queally's mount.

There are six other raiders set to line out on the last day of the Ebor Festival, with Across The Rhine and Lechevalier Choisi tackling the opening Listed race.

Despite the form of Across The Rhine's win at The Curragh last month working out well, he has it all to do.

Lechevalier Choisi, a first runner in England for Newbridge handler James McCabe, is more interesting.

Returning to seven furlongs on easy ground here for the first time in a year, the three-year-old posted a fair performance at Fairyhouse last month.

In a Listed race over six furlongs then, he was a staying-on fourth to Rose Bonheur, with two more subsequent Listed winners, Katla and Rock Jock, in second and third.

He could go close again now that he receives weight from all bar two of his 12 rivals. John Queally's versatile mare Elyaadi tackles two-miles.

A runner-up at Royal Ascot and Dundalk on her most recent starts, she is ultra-consisten, but the ratings suggest that she will be up against it.

Having seemingly not quite got home over half-a-mile further in the Gold Cup, Duncan is instead fancied to bounce back for John Gosden.

In his penultimate start, the Dalakhani gelding accounted for Blue Bajan -- which reopposes on three-pound worse terms now on its first try at a mile and six furlongs here.

Just before the Londsdale, Ballydoyle has two representatives in the Melrose Stakes, but Thubiaan gets the nod to collect here.

Lightly raced, Tadhg O'Shea's mount was an encouraging fourth on her handicap debut at Ascot recently.

Best Bet: Duncan

lReaders following Richard Forristal's selections would have been in the money yesterday. At Wexford, Monte Carlo (9/4), Akinspirit (4/1) and The Real Article combined for a 22/1 treble.

While Burma Rock (7/2), Pistol Jack (10/3) and Brough Academy (5/2) delivered at combined odds of 67/1 at Kilbeggan. Earlier, he also tipped the 5/1 winner Shesastar at York.

Irish Independent

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