Eclipse third Regal Reality sets a clear standard in the six-runner feature race at York on Saturday, the extended 1m 2f Group 2 York Stakes (15:15).
Trained by Sir Michael Stoute, who saddled the inaugural winner of this in 2006, this four-year-old Intello colt is getting better with age. That is typical of inmates of his yard.
Regal Reality made all on his sole start as a juvenile, scoring by half-a-length on soft ground at Yarmouth.
Stoute takes his time with his horses and, although down the field behind Without Parole in a Listed contest at Sandown on reappearance last term, this one bounced back after a break.
He quickened clear nicely to beat Ostillo, who landed his next two starts, by 1 1/2 lengths in the Group 3 Thoroughbred Stakes at Glorious Goodwood.
Regal Reality was then third on heavy ground at Haydock in the Superior Mile and filled the same spot in the Group 2 Joel Stakes.
Although beaten five lengths at Newmarket, the winner Mustashry landed the Group 1 Lockinge at Newbury this season.
Regal Reality shaped as though needing the run on his return to action when a 1 1/2 lengths third to the ill-fated Beat The Bank in the Sandown Mile.
The winner was a neck runner-up in the Group 1 Queen Anne at Royal Ascot, then went out on his shield when just holding on by a nose despite losing his action in the Group 2 Summer Mile there.
That is strong form and Regal Reality advertised it himself with an impressive success in the Group 3 Brigadier Gerard back at Sandown.
He ran out a decisive 3 3/4 lengths winner and was far from disgraced last time out when third to Enable.
Bangkok benefits from York Stakes race terms
As Regal Reality was beaten less than three lengths by the dual Arc de Triomphe heroine, he is well worth another crack at Group 2 level now eased in graded.
He is also entitled to be the 13/8 favourite with 888Sport and – on adjusted ratings – 2lbs and upwards clear of the field here.
With no older horse within 6lb of him, and in-form jockey Richard Kingscote in the saddle, Regal Reality is very much the one to beat in this renewal of the York Stakes.
Bangkok is the sole three-year-old in opposition, but that age bracket have a poor record in the race.
Andrew Balding’s King Power Racing owned son of Australia gets 9lb weight-for-age and is thus comes out as closest to Regal Reality on adjusted ratings.
He is also unbeaten in two starts over 10 furlongs. Bangkok beat subsequent Dante winner Telecaster in a Doncaster maiden on reappearance, then followed-up decisively in the Group 3 Classic Trial at Sandown.
Although he struggled in the Epsom Derby and trailed in last but one, he still amazingly confirmed form with Telecaster.
Bangkok shaped far better when eased in grade to this level at Royal Ascot when chasing home Japan in the King Edward VII Stakes.
While he had no chance with the hugely impressive winner, who has since followed-up in the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp, he still held on well for second.
Bangkok acted well enough on good-to-soft going in Berkshire, so any forecast rain won’t hinder him.
This is arguably easier than the King Edward but, even taking the weight-for-age into account, he still has 2lb to find with Regal Reality.
Balding’s yard is in decent form, so odds of 6/1 with Unibet each-way can’t be discounted for Bangkok under Silvestre De Sousa.
Addeybb also respected if rain falls
It’s a case of the more rain the better for impressive Royal Ascot winner Addeybb.
This William Haggas trained five-year-old looked a cut above Listed level when handling the soft surface superbly and winning the Wolferton Stakes with more in hand than the winning margin suggests.
Addeybb, a previous winner in this grade when landing the Sandown Mile last season, came on leaps and bounds for his return to action this term.
The Pivotal gelding was a 2 3/4 lengths fourth to the re-opposing Forest Ranger in the Group 2 Huxley Stakes at the Chester May Festival.
He now meets the winner on 3lb better terms and, given Addeybb is now rated 2lb superior, he should be reversing the form.
Elarqam re-opposes from Royal Ascot here, but was a fading third then and filled the same spot in the York Stakes last season.
That one looks to have something to find with Addeybb despite now meeting him on 3lb better terms.
If there’s cut in the ground, then it would be follow to underestimate his chances on the Knavesmire, so odds of 3/1 with Coral reflect that.
Forest Ranger is penalised for his Huxley win at Chester, so it’s hard to see Richard Fahey’s charge defying topweight here despite a break since.
Knight To Behold, meanwhile, completes the line-up but appeals least due to inconsistency.
This year’s York Stakes thus looks between Regal Reality, Bangkok and Addeybb. It’s the former with leading form claims, though it’d be no surprise to see either of the latter pair run well again.
Flying Pursuit to cut a Dash again on York Stakes day
Flying Pursuit has won the 6f Sky Bet Dash Handicap (14:40) in the last two years, so looks a solid each-way bet.
This Tim Easterby trained six-year-old gelding is on a handy mark and landed this race 12 months ago off 94.
He also scooped the spoils in 2017 when rated 90, so his current handicap mark of 92 puts him in with every chance of the hat-trick.
Flying Pursuit is one of five course and distance winners in the field and is better with a bit of cut underfoot.
If sufficient rain arrives to give the ground some ease, then he looks well worth backing to reverse the form of his last run with Gulliver.
This is because he now meets the winner on 7lb better terms and has just over five lengths to find.
Flying Pursuit is also 1lb better off with stablemate Golden Apollo – another York sprint regular – from that race over course and distance.
The going was firmer than ideal for him then and he just didn’t stay 7f on his previous start on the Knavesmire.
In a typically wide open renewal, however, Flying Pursuit appeals more than most and is 15/2 with Betway, who pay five places for a fifth of outright odds.
The recent revival of David O’Meara new recruit Tomily is also worth bearing in mind.
This five-year-old joined his stable after winning a sales race at Windsor while still in the care of Richard Hannon.
Tomily has since won both his start for his new yard to complete a hat-trick. Those subsequent wins came at Ayr and Catterick.
He is quickly turned out under a 7lb penalty, but clearly thriving and looks a bit of each-way value at 12/1 with Paddy Power.
Nette Rousse the fillies’ fancy
The assessor could’ve taken a chance with handicap debutante Nette Rousse in the extended 1m 2f fillies’ handicap later on the card (16:55).
This lightly-raced Ralph Beckett trained daughter of Mastercraftsman is a progressive sort who has improved with each outing.
After finishing sixth to Pondus at Nottingham, Nette Rousse got much closer to that rival at Sandown before breaking her maiden tag at the Esher venue.
She made all, responding for pressure two out and asserted in the final furlong for a 2 1/4 lengths victory. An opening handicap mark of 80 means joint bottomweight in this and looks generous.
Old rival Pondus has since run fine races when sixth to Japan in the King Edward at Royal Ascot and runner-up in a Listed affair to Fox Chairman at Newbury. That is strong form in relation to this handicap.
Kingscote now takes the ride on Nette Rousse. After just those three career starts, she’s open to the most progress in the field.
This looks a nice opportunity for her to follow-up at odds of 3/1 with Betfair now sent handicapping for the first time.
Fellow handicap debutante Audarya has run a string of solid races and also broke her maiden last time out.
Trained by James Fanshawe, this three-year-old Wootton Bassett filly was beaten seven lengths by Twist ‘N’ Shake at Nottingham on reappearance.
The winner has since scored at Listed level in France and filled a minor place at Royal Ascot, so again this is good form in relation to this.
After chasing home Velorum when a length second at Yarmouth, Audarya was an easy winner of a Redcar maiden when up in trip. She also looks very unexposed compare to the field and is 9/4 with William Hill to follow-up here.