A huge £200,000 is up for grabs in the 63rd running of the immensely competitive John Smith’s Cup on the Knavesmire on Saturday.
The best of Yorkshire, Lambourn, Newmarket and beyond are trying to win this and these are our top six contenders for what is a fabulous race over the extended mile and a quarter:
Andrew Balding’s filly has been handed stall 3 for this race which is good on paper, while the highly thought of apprentice Harry Davies takes 5lbs off her back.
Despite being a seven furlong winner we know she sees out this trip very well, the biggest concern highlighted by her profile being the lack of solid fast-ground form.
Nevertheless, she looks overpriced following her good second in the City and Suburban Handicap at Epsom, a race in which she pulled some five lengths clear of the third.
Godolphin are well represented once again in this race, however rather than Charlie Appleby dominating it’s Saeed bin Suroor who holds the aces.
His First View carries the second choice colours and has claimer Stefano Cherchi on board with Brilliant Light ridden by Danny Tudhope, but a major case can be made for him.
He is a five year old now and is drawn out in 22, but he’s lightly raced and is certainly capable of reaching a higher mark than his official rating of 90.
As a four year old gelding with 11 races under his belt, it’s almost guaranteed that Greatgadian has more to offer.
His two outstanding runs this spring came at Chelmsford on the all weather, however his early two and three-year-old form shows he’s as good on turf as on the synthetics so we have a good idea of what to expect.
He wasn’t great at Ascot last time but at 40/1 he wasn’t expected to be. Now he has his correct race distance and if resuming his profession has a fine chance.
The performances recently of Intellogent and his trainer Jane Chapple-Hyam are exceptional.
Despite being a seven year old who reached his peak form when trained in France on softer ground some four years ago, he has got just about to that level once again on genuine fast ground this season.
Intellogent was a superb second in the Royal Hunt Cup at Ascot and was placed in a Listed race and a hot handicap before that. He’s improving with each run this season and now a previously unthinkable new career high could be on the cards.
Just Fine is among the better backed horses for the Queen, Sir Michael Stoute and Richard Kingscote and there’s enough in his profile to suggest he can reward confidence.
On the plus side; he’s a 1m2f winner on fast ground and is more than likely still improving. On the down side; both of his wins have come at Sandown and recent performances suggest that, as well as being a son of Sea The Stars, he may want more of a stamina test now.
Despite having all the ability in the world and all the class that should come with it, meaning horses are simply aimed at the right race for them, William Haggas has never hidden the fact that he does target York specifically.
In the case of Mahrajaan, and whether it’s luck or judgement, Haggas may have found the perfect horse for this valuable race.
He made his debut as a three year old over a mile and a quarter and quickly went on to win twice over a mile and a half.
He was then very tough in finishing third in a heritage handicap on soft ground over a mile and three quarters before beginning this campaign with another placed effort over twelve furlongs.
Despite that form, having taken a keen hold recently and being by Kitten’s Joy there is every chance a fast-run mile and a quarter race is precisely what he now needs so we reckon conditions are perfect.
As a horse who won three in a row before being a beaten favourite twice in what we now think were unsuitable circumstances, a major improvement could be on the cards under Dane O’Neill.
The resurgence under Jane Chapple-Hyam of Intellogent has been great to see. He may yet be the one in this race.
Despite not being Godolphin’s first choice according to silks and jockey bookings, First View has a great chance to add to Saeed bin Suroor’s fine record in top-class handicaps also.
Given his profile, his draw, race conditions and his trainer, MAHRAJAAN looks the best of the bunch here and at the time of writing he remains at a very backable price too.