Yorkshire Cup 2014 – Runners & Odds

This week’s Dante meeting at York comes to a climax on Friday where the headline act is the 2014 Yorkshire Cup (Group 2) over 1m6f at 2.45pm. David Myers previews the runners and odds.

This historic event has proven a fantastic spectacle over the years, having been won by the likes of Sergeant Cecil in 2007, while also acting as a handy pointer for next month’s Ascot Gold Cup. But, for punters looking to find Friday’s winner, then despite last year’s shock 25/1 winner, it could pay to side with those around the 9/1 mark or shorter, as 15 of the last 18 Yorkshire Cup winners came from that sector of the market.

Amongst this year’s leading fancies for Friday’s big race is Marco Botti’s Tac De Boistron (4/1), who arrives having won the Group 3 Sagaro Stakes at Ascot under Frankie Dettori (who rides again on Friday) a fortnight ago (2m, soft). This 7yo made it three wins from his last four runs that day, having previously captured a Group 1 in France last autumn (2m, soft), though such improvement has seen him lumbered with a penalty on Friday.

Not that a Group 1 penalty cannot be defied in this race, as the aforementioned, Sergeant Cecil, carried extra weight to victory seven years – the third victor to carry a penalty since 1996.

Also fancied is Sir Michael Stoute’s Gospel Choir (4/1), who also lines-up in top form following a Group 2 success at Newmarket’s Guineas meeting (1m4f, good to firm). The question marks surrounding this 5yo’s chance involve both the trip and ground, and while he is open to improvement, his breeding doesn’t exactly smack of stamina.

Another who has it to prove over what promises to be a real stamina-sapping test in the mud is James Fanshawe’s Seal Of Approval (8/1), who improved rapidly to win three races over 1m4f last season (including on soft ground), but fell in a Group 2 over 1m7f at Doncaster’s St Leger meeting. However, despite falling that day, Seal Of Approval was in the process of running a good race, keeping on into fourth place before coming down.

Ahzeemah (9/1) has not only proven himself over this sort of trip, but also won a Group 2 here at the Ebor meeting last summer (2m, good to soft) and is one of the most consistent horses in training having made the top two in 11 of his last 12 races. Godolphin’s 5yo is capable going well first time out and rates each-way value.

Alan King’s Tiger Cliff (10/1), also goes well first time up and takes a big step up in class here having won the Ebor Handicap over C&D last summer (soft), while another improver is John Gosden’s Camborne (12/1), who wrapped up last season with a career-best victory in a Group 3 over 1m3f (soft).

Friday’s renewal looks to be an absolute cracker, as there is a good mix of proven stayers and upcoming improvers who could go to the very top in the staying ranks this season.

But, as for who could get home in front, then that may be Ralph Beckett’s Cubanita (8/1), who won the Group 3 John Porter Stakes at Newbury last month (1m4f, good), a race that has provided the Yorkshire Cup on several occasions. As a winner on heavy ground, and out of a dam who was second in the St Leger, this 5yo mare could be a big improver.

Here are the trends covering the last 18 Yorkshire Cup winners…

16 of the 18 winners ran over 1m4f-2m last time.
16 were 4-7yo’s.
15 returned 9/1 or shorter.
15 made the top four last time – seven came via the John Porter, Sagaro or Jockey Club Stakes. Four of the winners not to have run for over six months were all Godolphin inmates.
13 won a Pattern event over 1m4f or further.
11 were officially rated 109 or higher – three of the exceptions since 1996 were Godolphin’s.
In fields of eight runners or more, low to middle draws came out on top 10 times.
Sergeant Cecil became the third horse in this period to carry a Group 1 penalty, although no filly scored since 1983.