York – John Smiths Cup (5T Race)


  • 11 of the last 12 winners last raced over 1m - 1m 2 1/2f
  • 11 of the last 12 winners were Irish or GB Bred
  • 10 of the last 12 winners were aged 4 or 5yo (plus one 3yo and a 7yo)
  • 9 of the last 12 winners carried 8-08 - 9-04
  • 9 of the last 12 winners had run in the previous 25 days (12/12 in the last 75 days)
  • 8 of the last 12 winners finished Top 4 last time out
  • 5 of the last 12 winners were ridden by claiming jockeys
  • All 6 runners that last ran in Group company finished unplaced
  • All 13 top rated and all 29 bottom rated runners have been beaten


Over the last 20 years Richard Fahey has trained 3 winners and 4 places but from a massive 37 runners.

Willie Haggas and Sir Mark Prescott have both trained two winners each but from 12 and 7 runners respectively.

Sir Michael Stoute has only had the one winner but another 8 of his 17 runners were placed.

Mark Johnston on the other hand has had just 1 place from 21 runners!

Brian Ellison has seen all 14 of his runners finish unplaced while Ed Dunlop has had all 8 of his runners finish unplaced

David O'Meara is 1 place from 11 runners


5 of the last 21 winners last raced at Ascot (plus 30 places) but these came from 137 runners.
4 winners last raced at Sandown (plus 5 places) but from only 30 runners.

All of the 5 winners to have last raced at Ascot did so at the Royal meeting where they ran over a distance of 1m or 10f.
All 40 runners that ran over 1m4f at Royal Ascot were beaten although 12 have made the frame.

All 4 winners coming on from Sandown did so from the Eclipse meeting the weekend before.
They all ran in class 2 company over a mile or 10f where they finished 3rd or worse.




This year we have 20 runners set to take part....

AFAAK - Very decent handicapper over 1m-1m2f who took his form to a new high when winning the Royal Hunt Cup on his seasonal debut just over 3 weeks ago. A 5lb rise means he's set to carry top weight from a new rating of 108 and that could make things tough for him.

MOUNTAIN ANGEL - Very consistent 10f handicapper who won a couple of decent handicaps at Epsom on his first two starts this Season before sticking on well without threatening when 5th in the Listed Wolverton Stakes at Royal Ascot. Firmish ground a slight concern and now returns to handicapping from a career high mark of 106 so enough doubts about his chances to look elsewhere.

MORDIN - 1st or 2nd in 9 of his 12 career starts including when runner up in last Season's Cambridgeshire. Won first time up this year before running 5th in a Group 3 at Epsom and was then 10th in the Hunt Cup behind Afaak. The return to 10f should help but he is another one to be running off a career high mark and like those above him in the handicap may be vulnerable to one of the lighter weighted runners.

PIVOINE - Won over course and distance in similar conditions last August but not so good since off a rating in the mid 100's. Struggled in 4 runs this year and was tailed off at Royal Ascot last time out over 1m4f but has now been dropped 3lbs to a rating of 101 and returns to the scene of his career best win so can't be completely ruled out despite the big odds.

SCARLET DRAGON - Hasn't won on the flat since 2016 but has run well on occasions in defeat and has been successful over hurdles in the meantime. Ran well on the all weather over the Winter but has been off the track since finishing 4th in a good handicap hurdle on the last day of the jumps season. His NH trainer does well in these big flat handicaps and this course and distance winner looks on a handy mark so must be on anyone's shortlist.

AQUARIUM - Course and distance winner in the soft last Season and those conditions seem to bring out the best in him. Been kept busy this term and was running well prior to success at Chester in May but has struggled in three subsequent runs thanks to a combination of firmer ground, a higher rating and a step up to 12f. Drops back to 10f for this and has been dropped a couple of pounds but the firm ground here is still of obvious concern

WAARIF - Multiple race winner who has won 2 of his last 4 starts and run well in defeat on the other two occasions. Ground and distance are both fine but a 5lb penalty for his latest win at Windsor 2 weeks ago means he races off a career high mark and that could prove troublesome.

WHAT'S THE STORY - Raced mainly over 7f and a mile and bagged a big prize at this course two starts back when winning the Hambleton handicap. Led at the 2f pole in the Hunt Cup last time out but couldn't quicken and eventually came home well beaten in 12th. Hasn't convinced in his two previous starts over 10f so questions to answer on his return to this trip.

ORIGINAL CHOICE - 5 time winner for Willie Haggas but after three poor runs in Meydan he moved on to Nick Littmoden at the start of June. His first run for the new stable came on the back of a 120 day break where he was never sighted behind Setting Sail at Newmarket two weeks ago. Dropped to a decent mark now and with that run under his belt it's possible we could see a different horse today but on balance he's probably best left until showing some sign of a return to form.

SETTING SAIL - Lightly raced Godolphin 4yo who has won 3 of his last 6 runs including when scoring cosily in a decent 10f handicap at the end of last month. Up 5lb for that win means he has nothing in hand on Mountain Angel on their meeting at Epsom in late May and although he's probably improving he does still have 2 1/4 lengths to find.

BUZZ - Gave Mountain Angel a 1lb and just beat him in a decent 10f handicap in the soft at Newbury at the end of last Summer so looks incredibly well handicapped at present. Has been running over longer distances since including when a one paced third over 1m6f at York last time out so this drop back to 10f may be the key to finding his way back to the winners enclosure although the firm ground is a concern.

RESTORER - Been dropping down the handicap after a series of poor runs and is now 1lb lower than his last winning mark. Well behind last Saturday at Haydock and is another who needs the soft so despite looking like his time is coming it probably won't be today.

STYLEHUNTER - Looked progressive last Summer and did well from the wrong side in last years Cambridgeshire. No show on his seasonal debut this year but flew home to finish 4th in the Hunt Cup next time out and is of definite interest stepping back up to 10f. Strong claims.

EXEC CHEF - Very consistent handicapper who has won over both a mile and 10f. Yet to record a win this Season but was second in the Lincoln first time up and has since strung a series of places together in class 2 handicaps. This has meant he's been creeping up the handicap without winning though and with most of his best form coming on softer ground he looks an each way bet at best.

MY LORD AND MASTER - Highly tried last Spring before returning in late Summer to try his hand at handicapping. Did well when the handicapper dropped him below 100 but no good on marks above that. Off the track since last November he's also been gelded but his trainers recent record with well handicapped horses returning from similar long lay offs means you have to sit up and take note of this one's chances.

FAYEZ - Has been kept very busy over the last 12 months, mainly on the all weather, and paid his way with 4 wins including twice on the turf in May/June. He has had excuses in his last two defeats and is up to winning off this mark but the over-riding feeling is he favours better ground.

FRANCIS XAVIER - Lightly raced 5yo who was unbeaten in three handicaps last Season. Pitched in to Listed company at Goodwood on his first run this year but finished well down the field and now returns to handicap company. He retains of interest back in this grade and could still be well handicapped so is not without chances at each way odds.

JAZEEL - Consistent handicapper for Mick Channon before moving to Jedd O'Keefe in the Spring. He carried on that good form to finish runner up in two good handicaps before winning a good pointer to this at Sandown last time out over 10f on good to firm. Conditions here are perfect but he carries a 5lb penalty for that Sandown win meaning he's another runner that has nothing in hand on his run behind Mountain Angel earlier this Season.

AASHEQ - Gutsy and consistent handicapper over the last 14 months and has run three very solid races this Season in top handicaps. He is a runner that is well handicapped with Mountain Angel and also gets a nice pull with Aquarium on their meeting at Chester. He likes firm ground, 10f, has had a nice break, is well in at the weights and looks a very appealing bet at his current odds.

HORTZADER - French import who won his first two races for his new stable on firm ground at the start of the Season. He went up in the handicap for those wins but has not been disgraced in three subsequent runs and has looked each time like this step up in trip could be the answer. (Declared Friday)

BIG KITTEN - Has done most of his running on the all weather where he's looked pretty decent. Not very good when returning to the turf two weeks ago, finishing last of 5 in a Windsor handicap and it remains to be seen if he can transfer that good all weather form to the turf. (Declared Friday)

ANOTHER TOUCH - Listed winner in the Summer of 2017 but wasn't seen out again until running in Meydan in January last year. Winless in 3 starts there and 7 runs over the Spring and Summer he hasn't been seen since well behind Pivoine in a York handicap last August. Has dropped down the handicap to a mark 3lb lower than his last handicap win but it's a tough ask taking this race after such a long layoff.

LEROY LEROY - 3yo who did well against his elders on his first run over 10f when second in the Zetland Gold Cup two starts back but unable to build on that when only 5th to Setting Sail last time out. He looked a bit of a handful that day and has it all to do to reverse form with the Godolphin runner.


It seems the key horse to this race is Mountain Angel with a number of horses running behind him earlier in the Season actually re-opposing on worse terms on ground that may not be suitable for them. The exception to this is AASHEQ who gets a 6lb pull for a 1 1/2 lengths defeat and 2lb for 3/4 length that Aquarium beat him. He's been given a break since having a hard race behind that one in the soft at Chester and back on his favoured firm ground looks to have everything in his favour. At the prices he looks a no brainer for an each way bet.

EACH WAY: AASHEQ 25/1 5 places

Plenty of the field hold solid chances according to the trends but the Sandown handicap that JAZEEL won last week has long been a good pointer to this race and, as he ticks all the trends boxes,  looks to have a strong chance at decent odds.

STYLEHUNTER looks relatively unexposed at this trip and was noted staying on very well over a mile in the Hunt Cup last time out. He comes from a big stable and would be my bet amongst the fancied runners.


We had a nice 16/1 winner and a place in last weekend's Lucky 15 attempt and will do battle again this week with this little lot....

AASHEQ 3.50 YORK 25/1


The Lucky 15 is a chance to win a decent amount for a small stake but trying to find 4 winners in 4 of the toughest races in one day isn't easy! - So, please do not bet more than you can afford to lose.

As always, do what you like with them: BACK THEM, LAY THEM or IGNORE THEM