The Sky Bet York Stakes takes place over an extended 10f at 3.15 at York on Saturday, July 28th. Here we take a look at favourite Elarqam and the other main contenders.
Previously a multiple Group 1 winner in South Africa, Smart Call is now a six year old mare with only one win from nine since joining Michael Stoute over a year ago. To be fair, she has been very highly tried in that period and her one win did come in her latest outing.
That win was a confidence boosting Group 3 on the all-weather at Newcastle against her own sex. Now back up to Group 2 level and pitched back in against the males, she won’t find it as easy this time around. She has her chance but will surely struggle to give six pounds to the seven pounds higher rated 3 year old Elarqam.
Bang in form trainer Michael Bell saddles the Queen Mother owned Fabricate. This six year old son of Makfi has yet to race above Group 3 level in twenty career starts, though he did run King George fancy Crystal Ocean to a short head at Sandown earlier this year. He was also well beaten on his last start and despite his good run at Sandown and the stable form, it is hard to view him as a serious betting proposition here.
Euginio is a solid Listed/Group 3 performer from the Richard Hannon yard with a string of consistent efforts to his name including a close second in the Listed Wolferton Stakes at Royal Ascot. He is the type to go down on his sword and while he will surely be in the shake up for places, a win might just be beyond him at this level.
The Richard Fahey trained Forest Ranger already has both a Group 3 and a Group 2 win to his name this season from just three starts. The first of those two wins was in the hotly contested Group 3 Earl of Sefton at Newmarket. That day he was chased home by the 119 rated Deauville, who next time out wasn’t disgraced in the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes at Newbury. Third that day in the Earl of Sefton was fellow Sky Bet York Stakes competitor Euginio, who was two and a half lengths back in third.
Forest Ranger did however run poorly when upped in class last time for the Group 1 Coral Eclipse Stakes at Sandown. Even allowing for the rise in class, he still finished a well beaten last of seven on that occasion. His chances here depend on him returning to top form and he has every chance of doing so at a track where he has already ran well. If he arrives on a going day then he can give Elarqam most to think about.
Elarqam is the favourite for this years Sky Bet York Stakes. This impeccably bred son of Frankel out of multiple Group 1 winning mare Attraction, burnt more than a few fingers when proving a major flop to finish seventh when a well backed 2/1 fav for the Group 1 Irish 2000 Guineas at the Curragh last May. Subsequently found to have been suffering from a minor respiratory problem, if that run can be forgiven then this Mark Johnston trained colt is the clear form pick here.
Twice raced as a two year old, he duly obliged with two easy wins. First of those was on this track and the second win was a Group 3 at Newmarket when he easily accounted for the classy Tip Two Win by an eased down two and three quarter lengths.
First time up this year he was pitched straight into Group 1 company when sent off a fancied 5/1 in the 14 runner 2000 Guineas at Newmarket. Prominent all the way, he finished fourth with Epsom Derby winner Masar just half a length in front and Coral Eclipse hero Roaring Lion a neck behind in fifth.
If he can reproduce anything like his Newmarket Guineas form, then this years Sky Bet York Stakes will be very hard to keep from his grasp.
Sky Bet York Stakes Verdict:
Favourite Elarqam has questions to answer and doesn’t warrant a bet here, but his superiority makes it impossible to back anything to beat him.