Weekend racing preview: Doncaster winner Skyrunner targets glory at York on Saturday
This weekend’s action marks the calm before the storm that is Royal Ascot next week.
However, there remains plenty of interesting racing up and down the country and we have picked out the highlights, which are live on ITV this weekend.
The feature race this weekend is a £75,000 Sprint Handicap over six furlongs at York at 3.40pm. There is Irish representation in the event with Aikido running for Classic winning trainer Ger Lyons. The three-year-old has won his last two starts at Dundalk and rates as a fascinating contender in this contest.
Skyrunner is unbeaten this year having backed up a convincing win at Doncaster in April with an emphatic seven-length victory at Pontefract last month. An opening handicap mark of 89 looks fair and he makes plenty of appeal. Others to note include Showalong who boasts winning form at the track and scored in good style at Chester last time out, whilst Dark Shift returned to action with success at Nottingham in May and looks interesting off a mark of 88.
Elsewhere at York, four runners go to post for the Listed Grand Cup Stakes over a mile and six furlongs at 3.05pm. Ranch Hand looks the class act in the field for Andrew Balding and showcased his wellbeing when second at Sandown in the Henry II Stakes last time out. His main rival looks to be the veteran Red Verdon who boasts winning form over the course and distance and has been kept busy already this term.
Frankie Dettori rides the Lemon Drop Kid gelding and the pair are chasing another win together having landed Group Two honours in France last term. Red Verdon is also seeking successive wins in this event having captured the contest when it was held at Doncaster last term.
The field are completed by Roberto Escobarr who remains unexposed having finished fifth in Listed company on his return to action, whilst Makawee bids to continue a good start to the season which saw her finish third at York in May.
Over at Sandown, the highlight is the Listed Scurry Stakes (2.15pm) which features a fascinating Irish-trained runner in the shape of Steel Bull. Winner of the Molecomb Stakes last term, he has failed to recapture the same form in four subsequent starts, including when well-beaten on his return to action at Naas.
However, he has to be of interest given his form from last term. Others to warrant a mention include Atalis Bay who scored at Nottingham in April and backed that up with a good second at York last time out. Last time out winners Warrior Brave and Queens Carriage are others to warrant a mention.
There is also interesting action on the Roodee where Oman makes appeal in the feature, the £30,000 Handicap at 3.20pm. Trained by Ralph Beckett, the three-year-old was a good third at Haydock on his latest start and looks capable of taking another step forward in this event.
ITV Racing selections
1.40pm Chester: Havagomecca
2.00pm York: Nicholas T
2.15pm Sandown: Steel Bull
2.35pm York: Dazzling Dan
2.50pm Sandown: King’s Knight
3.05pm York: Ranch Hand
3.40pm York: Skyrunner
3.20pm Chester: Oman
Selections from OLBG