With Royal Ascot just around the corner, there's understandably an element of the calm before the storm when it comes to Saturday's action. There's a cracking six-furlong handicap (15:40) for punters to get stuck into at York, though, and a free Timeform Race Pass is available to help you find the winner of the 17-runner sprint.
The Timeform weight-adjusted ratings are headed by Blind Beggar (111), who made the most of a good opportunity at Catterick to get off the mark at the eighth attempt. He may have been expensive to follow prior to his nine-length win at Catterick, but he has some solid form to his name and hadn't been doing a lot wrong. It would certainly be difficult to find fault with his previous effort at Ripon, where he had the misfortune of bumping into the exciting Twilight Spinner, who has since won a listed race by six and a half lengths. The handicapper could have taken a sterner view of Blind Beggar's Catterick maiden win, which was achieved in a good time.
As you would expect for a race at this stage of the season that is restricted to three-year-olds, there are some unexposed, improving horses in action. Four of the runners have the Timeform 'p'attached to their rating, indicating that improvement is expected, and among that quartet is the hat-trick seeking Skyrunner.
Skyrunner, who hails from William Haggas' powerhouse base in Newmarket, narrowly won a seven-furlong Doncaster maiden in April but scored with a lot more authority when dropped in trip to five furlongs at Pontefract last month, showing improved form to defy a penalty, albeit against modest opposition. Skyrunner impressed with his physique in the parade ring as well as the zest he showed in the race itself, so he could still have plenty to offer.
This valuable handicap was earmarked as a possible target by Timeform's reporter, who also awarded Skyrunner the Horse In Focus Flag, denoting that he would be of interest on his next start.
The other contender with the Horse In Focus Flag is Jadwal, who bumped into a good prospect at Newmarket last time but pulled three lengths clear of the remainder. Jadwal was unable to repel Jumby's strong challenge, but that rival is on course to contest the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot, so he was probably facing a stiff task.
There are three runners in the field with the Horses For Courses Flag, highlighting their effectiveness on flat tracks that place the emphasis on speed. Blind Beggar, whose best effort last year was when runner-up at Haydock, has the Horses For Courses Flag, as does Showalong, who was successful here on his only previous attempt at this venue. Showalong is prominent on Timeform's weight-adjusted ratings after going up 7 lb for a ready victory at Chester last month.
Timeform's analyst verdict
Lots with chances in this prestigious sprint handicap. Skyrunner is taken to complete a quick hat-trick now he steps into handicap company and gets his first try at 6f having scored readily over the minimum trip at Pontefract. Showalong also steps up in distance having landed a Chester handicap impressively and is feared most with runaway Catterick maiden winner Blind Beggar next on the list.
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