This race comes with a ton of history and £38,000 to the winner, meaning it’s as competitive as ever.
A six-furlong sprint set to be staged on quick enough conditions, it really is all about speed here and we’ve whittled this year’s Great St Wilfrid down to the following six candidates we believe can all run well.
Gale Force Maya
While many placed horses in the last few years have come from low stall numbers, most winners have come from the upper end of the draw which is the first tick Gale Force Maya gets beside her name.
The next is the fact that she is trained by Michael Dods, a genuinely top-drawer trainer and especially of sprinters, while the five-year-old mare is also an improving type who is in form and is proven over this very course and distance.
Having won six of her 24 career races, including once this season over seven furlongs at Doncaster, Gale Force Maya knows how to get the job done. Her last two runs have seen her finish a close third at Newmarket and at Ripon last time out, all the while shaping like a horse who is being prepped for the big day – which this is.
Paul Mulrennan’s mount can hit her seasonal and career peak now in these conditions, a scenario that should show her to be a good few pounds well in on the handicap.
Drawn right up the rail is Intrinsic Bond, a four-year-old whose recent form is outstanding. In July he won by a wide margin over at Catterick, while last time out he was a half-length ahead of Gale Force Maya here at Ripon.
Plenty was expected last time as Tracy Waggott’s gelding was sent off the 3/1 favourite, while he’s now also 1lb worse off with the Dods mare.
No doubt that form sees him in with a great chance here, but we can’t help thinking there’s a little more to come from his close rival this time around.
Mokaatil has had a busy and productive season, winning three times. His trio of successes have come over five furlongs, which leads to doubts about him showing his very best form over the six here, while it’s also asking a lot for a 43-times raced six-year-old to suddenly pull out the improvement needed to win off this mark. Place chances.
Mr Wagyu is well fancied, is a single-figure price and comes into this event as a last time out winner for excellent sprint trainer John Quinn.
On that basis he had to be included here, though his super win in the Stewards’ Cup consolation race at Glorious Goodwood was achieved on soft ground and he now has to race off a mark some 8lbs higher than ever before in his 53-run career.
Tim Easterby naturally targets this race, along with the Ebor meeting at York next week, with Music Society perhaps representing his best chance of a victory this time.
He’s drawn a little low, but he was fourth in Mr Wagyu’s race last time and before that was a short head fast-ground second in a strong six-furlong handicap on the Knavesmire.
Plenty of improvement is needed for Keith Dalgleish’s runner, though the signs were there last time at Hamilton that a return to form is imminent and he is a good 8lbs lower in the handicap now that at his peak of only last December on the all-weather.
It’s not too unusual for an experienced horse like Mokaatil to improve for a change in trip in a big race, and his experience and toughness could yet count for plenty.
The key piece of form could well be the course and distance handicap staged here just twelve days ago however.
In that event, Intrinsic Bond finished second and should go very well again, however his half-length advantage over GALE FORCE MAYA could be wiped out by the improvement expected from Michael Dods’ horse, the 1lb weight pull, and the highly likely much quicker pace of this 20-runner event.
At the time of writing, prices of around 20/1 are available about the mare which serves to grossly underestimate her chances of victory.