Charles Hills to ‘Strike’ in the ‘aged’ handicap over five furlongs of ‘good’ Newmarket ground tonight. There will be a very interested ‘official’ spectator! ‘The handicapper’ rates Desert Strike 81 on all-weather form and 10lbs lower for turf. To all intents and purposes, that makes this ultra-consistent six-year-old a handicap certainty and it’s obviously, just a question of him repeating recent polytrack form, under Kieren Fallon! Last week, Desert Strike finished strongly over a similar distance on the Lingfield AWR surface, to be second in a strongly-run race under stable apprentice, Matthew Lawson and prior to that, absolutely stormed home down the centre of Wolverhampton to occupy another runner-up spot, ridden by Fallon. Although drawn wide - fifteen of sixteen!, Desert Strike will line up the fittest, most in-form thoroughbred in the field, ridden by one of the best sprint jockeys I’ve ever seen; if this isn’t a good betting proposition...!
Another reason to visit HQ is Spoke To Carlo, one of fifteen declarations for division two of the Maiden Stakes over ten furlongs.
Carlo was napped last week but didn’t run because of soft ground. Hopefully, a patient policy exercised by Eve Johnson Houghton, will be reward with victory at the fourth attempt, for a Halling colt which has been third in all races to date. What beats him will win!
Earlier, York stages the highly-prestigious £150,000 group two Dante Stakes over an extended ten furlongs. Epsom Derby second-favourite, Bonfire is one of seven declarations, which also include an unbeaten duo, Ernest Hemingway and Mandaean, not to mention 2000 Guineas sixth, Fencing! Finding the winner merits the ‘too difficult tray’ and so I’ll be a layer of Bonfire because O’Brien-trained Ernest Hemingway is yet another ‘sighter’ in similar mould to Astrology and Mahmood A Zarooni-trained, Mandaean, is reckoned outstanding by Godolphin. There are four others and a short-priced favourite doesn’t make sense on soft ground. A tremendously tricky, seven-race programme concludes with an 18-runner ‘aged’ handicap over two and a quarter miles. A ‘band’ of only 10lbs smacks of a ‘bumper’ race and that’s why course and distance winner, Orsippus appeals as a sporting each-way bet with four places on offer.
RACE 28 (#17) ORSIPUS (e.w.)
RACE 44 (#14) DESERT DTRIKE (e.w.)a
RACE 54 (#12) SPOKE TO CARLO (nap e.w.)