Wednesday 11 May 2011

4:10 York (11th May)

An EBF Novice Stakes over 5f on good ground.

Probably the most competitive two-year-old event of the season so far. With five unbeaten juveniles the winner will be a talented juvenile and certainly heading to Royal Ascot.

Probably the most proven form horse in Hamza trained by Kevin Ryan. A relatively cheap purchase at £25,000, this son of Amadeus Wolf was very professional on debut at Musselburgh - substantially backed - and won well. The form of that race has been franked and the second Stonefield Flyer looks capable. This is a step in class but he looks a straight forward colt and could go on to better things. He has place claims and a fighting chance of winning.

Gatepost was another colt who made a pleasing debut at Folkestone. Channon has his youngsters in good form and it always speaks well when one of his wins when making their racecourse bow. An attractive son of Footstepsinthesand he has size and scope to progress after winning with ease that day. The form is fair - without being special - with the second and third both capable of winning races. Owned by Dr Marwan Koukash, Spencer is retained, and it would be a brave soul to suggest this two-year-old will not run a big race. In such competitive fields it is never easy to be dogmatic in an individuals limitation or potential. Gatepost could be a classy juvenile.

Jeremy Noseda is represented by Monnoyer who won quite comfortably at Wolverhampton. An entrant for the Phoenix Stake (Group 1), Hanagan gave good praise to this son of Dutch Art saying he was one of the better juveniles he had ridden this season. Monnoyer was inexperienced, taking time to find his stride, if not a fraction outpaced, before running on with enthusiasm. To be fair, that didn't look the strongest of races. The second and third have since run at Chester and although showed an element of ability haven't franked the form to any extent. Noseda's two-year-old is all about potential. He needs to improve on that initial performance. There is a chance he may be outpaced in the early stages, which can be a problem over this dashing straight. I would rather take a watching brief.

Alejandro is a battling type. He was put in his place on debut by the talented Queen's Revenge who won after a desperately slow start and wasn't touched with the whip while Fahey's youngster was fit, ready and trying for all its worth. He won well on his second start at Musselburgh. You would have to consider Tim Easterby has a fair line of form with Alejandro through Queen's Revenge - who was also entered to run in this race. The fact that Easterby sends Ponty Acclaim gives the impression he fancies his chances against . This colt will be in good hands with Hanagan but he may just struggle with one or two of these.

As noted above, Ponty Acclaim made a good impression at Ripon. Being the only filly against a field of colts is a tough task although she does get her allowance. Easterby sent out Cocktail Charlie to run a superb race in this contest last year and he does particularly well with his two-year-olds at York. In many ways this could be a difficult race against bigger, stronger colts. However, I get the feeling connections hold this filly in high regard. She has fair place claims.

Cravat, Profile Star & Rio Grande should be respected but may have more on their plate than those mentioned.

Conclusion: Stakes races are never easy to be dogmatic about finding the winner. How far can a unbeaten horse progress? This is a very fast 5f and being tardy at the start or being outpaced will make this hard work. Monnoyer has potential but may struggle for pace in the early stages. Hamza, Gatepost and Ponty Acclaim get my vote. Alejandro has ability but needs to improve although a determined type. Hamza & Gatepost look straight forward horses with fluent strides, relaxed and guaranteed to knuckle down when asked. The form of Hamza's Musselburgh race has been franked and Ryan's youngster may be the one to beat. Gatepost has place claims. Tim Easterby does well at York and Ponty Acclaim could be the surprise package although logic says she has her work cut out against the colts. An intriguing race. The winner will be heading for Royal Ascot.

HCE: ''Gatepost is heading for Royal Ascot after a tidy success. Mick Channon Jnr pencilled  the Coventry on his calender after Jamie Spencer said 6f would be more suiting than 5f, after being slightly outpaced mid-race. In fairness, this may have been a blessing as Profile Star set a frantic pace, buzzed-up with his blinkers on for the first time. Gatepost - named after being injured by running into one at home - ran on with purpose and connections are clearly thrilled with this two-year-old prospect. Hamza ran a great race, especially as he was up with the pace and stayed on in determined fashion. Ponty Acclaim done little wrong and showed most of the colts that girls can run.''