Big field handicap races such as Saturdays’s John Smith’s Cup at York are a boon for bookies. Five of the last 10 winners have been priced at 10/1 or more, with two 25/1 winners among them. The enemy will already be planning holidays in the sun since ante-post favourite and handicap snip Mullins Bay has been drawn in the car park, 19 of 20. Only one horse has been good enough to overcome a double-digit draw since 1982 and that was on soft ground.
On paper Mullins Bay is a good thing. His second to Imperial Stride at Royal Ascot (at York) is the best form in the race. However, there are good reasons to oppose this favourite.
Results at Newmarket this weekJuly should be heeded. Class horses that ran big races at Royal Ascot – such as Ifraaj, Red Clubs and Boogie Street – performed badly. This suggests the firm ground at the Royal meeting is taking its toll.
The percentage bet is to find a horse that bypassed Royal Ascot and has a single-digit draw. Of those, Woodcracker has most appeal. In April he was beaten by Notable Guest but is weighted to reverse that form, and as a three year old he won one of the hottest handicaps of the season.
Earlier on the card, Lost Soldier Three is fancied to claim the John Smith’s Extra Smooth Silver Cup. This horse does not quite get two miles but is very effective at this trip as shown when he won the Melrose Stakes last term.
3:20 – Lost Soldier Three (win)
3:55 – Woodcracker (win)