Saturday’s racing across the UK is very much a warm up for the Lord Mayor’s Show in Royal Berkshire next week, but the three-year-old Pavers Foundation Catherine Memorial Sprint Handicap at York still makes plenty of appeal from a betting point of view.
With a maximum field size of 20, runners are likely to be spread across the Knavesmire, however finding recent winners of the race has been a relatively straightforward task in hindsight, with two of the last three sent off at 5/1. Both horses (Twilight Son in 2015 and Golden Apollo last season) came into the race on the back of recent wins, and that’s the case for this year’s market leader Foxtrot Lady. She followed up her Chester success with an even better performance at Carlisle last time, driven clear to win by three and three quarter lengths from Lady Dancealot, despite hanging. She has her quirks but is thriving at present and is respected accordingly.
Jawwaal made the most of a good opportunity when winning a seven-furlong minor event at Kempton last time, but wasn’t particularly impressive and will likely need to improve again to win off 89 on his handicap debut; he also has an alternative engagement at Sandown, so makes little appeal here.
Of more interest at a general 10/1 (bigger with only a couple of firms) is Citron Major. He needs one to come out to guarantee a run, but this progressive colt has looked a horse to follow in recent months, having only made his debut in January. He showed much improved form to get off the mark at Newcastle in May, and bounced back from a modest effort over seven furlongs here (too keen after racing without cover) when winning by five lengths at Ripon last time. Granted a strong pace there, his finishing kick was devastating, winning a competitive sprint with plenty in hand; he's 11 lb higher here but is progressing fast.
Beshaayir also lurks towards the foot of the weights, having followed in her dam’s footsteps when winning over six furlongs at Newbury last season. She then won a seven-furlong minor event at Wolverhampton in April, and was better than the result when fifth to Pepita in a listed race at Musselburgh last time, making headway out wide from off the pace over two furlongs out after rearing in the stalls (reportedly also unsuited by track). This Commonwealth Cup entrant remains with potential, especially now dropped in trip at a venue her trainer – who saddled Solaan to win this race in 2012 - often targets.
Other notable runners towards the head of the betting include Roussel. His Doncaster win hasn’t worked out, but he ran a clear career-best when third in a listed contest over five furlongs here last month. The most progressive Gabrial The Saint, who was strong in the betting at Leicester when making it two emphatic handicap wins on the bounce, and four-timer-seeking Savalas (now 12 lb higher than for last handicap win) are both likely dangers, for all that the latter has something to prove over this trip.
Angels’ winning run came to a halt at Carlisle last week and, though she had looked very progressive prior to that, her stablemate Staxton makes more appeal here, despite having something to find on ratings. He was thought good enough to run in the Gimcrack here last season, far from disgraced when beaten less than five lengths into fifth behind Sands of Mali, and held his form well in three subsequent runs last term. He was a little below form on reappearance when seven lengths fourth to Anna Nerium in the Free Handicap (listed) at Newmarket, but that form looks solid (winner and fifth have run well in defeat since, while the third has won).
Staxton travelled well that day, never far from an honest pace, and looks sure to come on plenty for the run. At 20/1, representing a yard that have won three of the last five renewals, he looks worth a bet.
Of the others, fellow Gimcrack also-ran Stormbringer caught the eye when fourth over seven furlongs on Newmarket’s July Course last week, paying the price late on for a big mid-race move after being slowly away. His earlier form at Ascot looks strong (backed up by a good timefigure), and he should run well at 16/1. Consequences looks ready for a good run before long having bouncing back to form – albeit without really threatening – at Windsor last time, while it might be significant if Mutakatif journeys here from Lambourn for his reappearance rather than Leicester or Sandown. He didn’t need to improve to get off the mark when last seen at Chester in September, but could progress plenty this term (brother to very smart Harbour Watch).
Plenty of in-form colts and fillies to choose from here and, whilst Beshaayir makes plenty of appeal, it’s the Timeform top-rated Citron Major who tops the shortlist, having looked one to keep on the right side of when storming clear at Ripon last month. Gimcrack fifth Staxton looks overpriced at 20/1 and is preferred to the in-form pair of Foxtrot Lady and Gabrial The Saint for a second selection.
Back Citron Major to win Saturday’s Pavers Foundation Catherine Memorial Sprint Handicap at York at 10/1
Back Staxton to win Saturday’s Pavers Foundation Catherine Memorial Sprint Handicap at York at 20/1