Cracking the code on the Knavesmire

Saturday 15th June, 3:35pm

Pocklington @ 6/1
Ziggy’s Condor @ 13/2
Elmonjed @ 7/1
Woodhay Wonder @ 8/1
James’ Delight @ 10/1
view odds

*prices correct at time of writing. 

York’s long-standing raceday for Macmillan Cancer Support has raised £10m over its 52 years, though there’s nothing terribly charitable about the puzzles presented by a series of complex, big-field handicaps. None is more labyrinthine than the £100,000 Churchill Tyres Supporting Macmillan Sprint over six furlongs at 3-35; here goes.

With the William Haggas team hitting top gear, Chris Hayes over from Ireland to ride and cheekpieces added, Elmonjed is a major fancy; the question is whether a drop back in distance after the Shadwell gelding suffered a first defeat (from a wide draw) on the track in May will prove a plus.

Four places in front that day, having jumped from the next-door (inside) stall, was the gelded Ziggy’s Condor which ran a cracker, only conceding in the final stride, and his stable is firing on all cylinders. The capable James’s Delight relishes soft or softish, and is ridden by Ryan Moore who has a good strike rate with Clive Cox.

Woodhay Wonder is a prolific standard-bearer for her trainer, most recently when successful in a handicap on the Rowley Mile that has regularly been a telling guide to this race, with Garfield Shadow – another, like Ziggy’s Condor and course and distance winner Tropical Island, for Richard Fahey – which is now better off at the weights for a beating on a track that didn’t look to suit.

Pocklington, owned by the sponsor, lost nothing in his first defeat, in Newbury’s Carnarvon Stakes, having won both of his previous races in good style, and should not be under-estimated. Apprentice Tom Kiely-Marshall is yet to ride a winner in Britain but has Irish success to his name and, especially with the seven-pound claim, his mount Chief Mankato is a player having run creditably against Woodhay Wonder at Newmarket in April.

There have been excuses for Serried Ranks in two defeats since winning a hot Glorious Goodwood nursery. Imperial Guard made an encouraging turf debut at Ascot in May.

Obviously wide open, and it’s Pocklington and Garfield Shadow against the field for me – what about you?

At Epsom the other day, Lord Melbourne looked unlucky not to finish closer when a storming-home fifth in a ten-furlong handicap; upped in distance and with the vastly experienced Serena Brotherton aboard he looks interesting in York’s Queen Mother’s Cup (1-50), a prize (which includes her weight in Lanson champagne) that, surprisingly, Brotherton hasn’t won for ages.

In the Scurry at Sandown (2-40), Flora of Bermuda looks to make amends after losing her chance at the start last time – and she still wasn’t beaten terribly far.

The in-form Marcus Tregoning must have every chance of extending his current good run with Spanish Blaze (3-15) which showed he was fresh and well when returning at Goodwood.

Look who’s making a pretty rare visit to Uttoxeter: jockey Danny Mullins is scheduled to ride two Neil Mulholland-trained runners, including the increasingly well-handicapped Crossing The Bar at 8-15.

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