Horse Racing

John Smith’s Cup

Saturday 18th July 13:30

The exciting racing continues as we look forward to another stellar weekend which features the John Smith's Cup at York. WhichBookie horse racing analyst Will Smith has provided his selections for the race along with his video preview.

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Bookie Selection Best Odds Market Bet
Fifth Position 8/1 E/W Place Bet

Date of Tips: 14/07/2020

Disclaimer The odds for these selections were correct at the time of publishing (11:25 14/07/2020) but may have changed since. Please check the latest price before placing your bet.







John Smith's Cup

John Smith's Cup


For what is usually such a valuable affair – the last two winners bidding to scoop the prize again, Euchen Glen and Pivoine, pocketed nearly four times what the winner will earn on Saturday – you would be inclined to think it would often go to a progressive young stayer, who would then go on to bigger and better things. But actually, looking at the roll call of past winners, it is more often than not a hard-knocking handicapper who prevails.

The betting highlight on yet another stellar weekend of racing, I am hoping, this time goes to a sharply progressive animal who could potentially be a Group class stayer in the making. Said animal is Roger Varian’s Fifth Position, who is 8/1 with Bet365 and Skybet now, and which looks a decent price to take about a horse who the market could latch on to.
Roger Varian always lays one out for this race, and while you have to go back to Farraaj in 2014 for the last time he won it, the past results are littered with Varian horses running well. Fifth Position is a huge big, leggy sort who didn’t race until his three-year-old season, and it is perfectly understandable why.

When he did make the track during that classic season, his form looks notably strong, without completely fulfilling his potential. Only now, as a mature four-year-old, does he look to be running to the level that he always looked capable of.
Not beaten far in the 2019 Cambridgeshire behind handicap certainty of the century Lord North, he came back after racing’s resumption with a brilliant run at Newcastle over an inadequate 1m. Always well to the fore, he was a sitting duck in the closing stages for the likes of Sir Busker and Dark Vision. Those two have both gone on to win at Royal Ascot next time, so the form is strong.
Stepped up to 1m2f on his next and last start at Doncaster, on first appearance he needed every yard of the trip to wear down Anythingtoday, but Andrea Atzeni timed things to perfection, and cleverly, he maybe saved a few pounds up his sleeve from the handicapper in the process.

That Doncaster from is strong, as fourth home Sky Defender has gone on to win a competitive Epsom handicap, and sixth home Archie Perkins gave Fifth Position’s John Smith’s Cup market rival Harrovian a mighty scare back at Doncaster on that one’s next start.
The extra half a furlong of the John Smith’s Cup and long, open, galloping expanses of the Knavesmire home straight look ripe for Fifth Position to use that long, loping stride, and he has long been in my notebook for this very race. At 8/1 now, I feel we could be on a decent price come mid-afternoon on Saturday.

Harrovian is a danger for sure, but I wonder if he is as straight-forward as Fifth Position, and anyhow his form doesn’t look quite as strong. Sir Michael Stoute’s Solid Stone and William Haggas’ Desert Icon won much easier races last time and have been duly clobbered by the handicapper.

Maybe the 2018 victor, Euchen Glen at 25/1 with Betfred and Paddy Power, could be a danger after two eye-catching runs back from a break this season. But it would be hard to imagine him getting as easy a time again, as he did on the front end of that renewal.

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