Astaire Aiming To Be Star Of The Show
Duke Of York Stakes
York’s three-day Dante Meeting gets underway on Wednesday where a mouth-watering menu of Group events and big-field handicaps await punters.
One such race is the Group 2 Duke Of York Stakes for sprinters at 3.15pm, where Kevin Ryan’s 4yo, Astaire (5/1), has already attracted money.
Astaire To Dance Home?
A Group 1 winning juvenile, Astaire never scored last season, but was a 1/2l runner-up in this race.
With the ground soft that day, Wednesday’s mud won’t be a problem, and he lines-up in top form having won a Group 3 at Newmarket last month (6f, good to firm).
Another positive is that Kevin Ryan has won this sprint twice since 2005…
Of the last 10 Duke of York winners…
9 were 5-7yo’s
9 were officially rated 105 or higher
9 were drawn in stalls 1-9
9 ran over 6f-7f last time – those from 5f were only 1-31
9 raced at York previously
9 had won twice or more over 6f
9 ran in a Pattern race time
9 were non-winners last time
7 were British-bred (135) – Irish –breds were 3-71 (4%)
K Ryan won it twice
Ground Could Be Key
William Haggas’ 5yo, Muthmir (5/1), had an exceptional time last season, winning a couple of valuable sprint handicaps including over this C&D (good to firm). He may need the ground faster to be at his best though.
Another who will be hoping the ground dries out is Marco Botti’s 4yo, Naadirr (5/1), who ran his worst race in the mud on his debut as a juvenile in 2013, but has since moved up the sprinting ladder to beat Astaire in a Listed event at Doncaster back in March (6f, good).
One who won’t mind the likely muddy conditions is Godolphin’s 4yo, Lightning Moon (11/2), who has won all three races to date – each of them coming on soft ground. The last of those was a Group 3 at Ascot in October (6f, soft), and it will be interesting to see if money arrives for this colt on his return.
The Easterbys At York
It will also be noteworthy should any money arrive for Tim Easterby’s 3yo, Mattmu (14/1), who signed off last season with a Group 2 win in France (6f, soft). This improving colt goes on any ground and looks each-way material at 14/1.
The Easterbys can never be ignored at York, and Mick Easterby has his 5yo mare, Aetna (12/1), entered. She won the big 6f handicap at this meeting on soft ground 12 months ago, before adding Listed honours in November. She never got a clear run on her return at Cork last month, but she is improving and is another with each-way potential.
It mustn’t be forgotten, however, that 5-7 year olds dominated this sprint down the years, offering encouragement to the 6yo, Jack Dexter (14/1), who enjoys soft ground and was almost 4l behind Astaire on fast ground at Newmarket.
An open renewal, which should provide plenty of clues for the big sprints ahead this summer, and one who should go well is Astaire. Kevin Ryan has a good record in the race, and his in-form 4yo has the necessary early speed required at this venue.
*Prices correct at time of publication