The big betting race at York on Saturday is the valuable 1m 6f Ebor Handicap (15:40) and Ben Vrackie looks decent value at 10/1 with Betway to land the spoils under red-hot rider Frankie Dettori.
This John Gosden trained four-year-old is lightly-raced for his age and ran a screamer on seasonal reappearance when runner-up at Royal Ascot.
That run came in the 1m 4f Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes where the son of the mighty Frankel was arguably an unlucky loser.
After losing vital ground when slowly away as the gates opened, Ben Vrackie finished with a real rattle under Dettori to be beaten just a short-head by Baghdad.
He was gaining hand over fist at the finish and, given how that valuable handicap panned out, it was a superb effort which suggested there were some decent prizes to be won with him this season.
That run came off a rating of 104 and, although now 4lb higher in the weights, Ben Vrackie has an air of unfinished business about him. He also remains open to further progress.
Touch of class
Although Ben Vrackie failed to back up that run last time out at Newmarket when sent off the 11/4 favourite and finishing a well-beaten 14-length 13th of 17 to King’s Advice, things didn’t go to plan and he was heavily eased when it was clear he would not be winning..
He has since been freshened up, and it’s worth bearing in mind that he ran very well over this 1m 6f trip last season when a 1 1/4 lengths third to Maid Up in a Group 3 at Goodwood.
That shows that he has a touch of class, something which is needed in a race like the Ebo Handicap.
It’s also very interesting that Dettori has chosen to partner Ben Vrackie rather than last year’s runner-up and stablemate Weekender.
So, with Gosden operating at strike rate of just under 29 per cent in the last 14 days at the time of writing, everything looks in place for a huge run.
Ben Vrackie thus gets our vote to come out on top in a cracking renewal of the Ebor Handicap.
Raheen House weighted to go well
There are a whole host of dangers in a typically wide-open contest in which a maximum field of 22 are set to line-up, but Raheen House appeals more than most now dropped in grade.
This five-year-old has some very smart form to his name in 2017 when trained by Brian Meehan.
After beating Desert Skyline by a length in the Group 3 Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket, the son of Sea The Stars was awarded a Listed race against Weekender at Ascot.
Raheen House went on to round off the campaign with a fine 1 3/4 lengths second to best Solution in the Group 3 St Simon Stakes at Newbury and has been lightly-raced since.
He has had just six starts and returned to form this season since joining the in-form yard of Newmarket handler William Haggas.
After finishing runner-up to Gold Mount in a Listed contest over this course and distance, Raheen House went down all guns blazing when beaten just a neck into third behind Red Verdon in a Group 3 – again over course and distance.
The form of both those races read well in relation to this and Raheen House now has his belated first try in a handicap off a mark of 113.
That looks exploitable, given he has been rated 1lb higher in the past. Raheen House is a strong travelling hold-up sort with a decent urn of foot when the cards drop right.
Haggas has also been banging in the winners of late, so this horse looks to have a lot going for him. At 8/1 with BetVictor, who pay five places, he looks a solid each-way contender.
Mustajeer another Ebor Handicap each-way player
Irish raider Mustajeer has some solid form to his name, so is another to consider from an each-way betting perspective now also dropped in class.
Trained by the in-form Ger Lyons, this six-year-old ran very well in last year’s Ebor Handicap when staying on and finishing a never nearer 5 1/4 lengths fourth of 22 to Muntahaa off a mark of 108.
He went on to round off the campaign with a very impressive Listed success at Naas when forging clear and winning eased down by 6 1/2 lengths from Whirling Dervish off the same rating.
Mustajeer has had just four starts this season, and went down by just a neck to subsequent Ascot Gold Cup third Master Of Reality in the second of those in the Group 3 Vintage Crop Stakes at Navan.
That effort came off 110 and he had Southern France, who has since won the Group 3 Irish St Leger Trial, three-quarters of a length behind in third. It gives the form a solid look.
Mustajeer was then far from disgraced when pitched into Group 1 company and finishing a keeping on 11 3/4 lengths third to Magical over an inadequate trip of 1m 2f in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at The Curragh.
The son of Medicean also ran well last time out when fifth of 10 to Twilight Payment in a Group 2 at the same venue when back up in distance.
This represents a return to calmer waters. Mustajeer is also able to race in the Ebor Handicap this year off a mark of 108.
That makes him a big player at the weights on the pick of his form – especially on the Vintage Crop run.
Mustajeer can be backed at 16/1 with Betfair, who also pay five places on this valuable race.