Ah, that great British weather – Wetherby had to abandon their flat card after one race last night, yet a rather large giant’s stone’s throw away, York racecourse only had a fraction of the same rainfall. It has left the ground as what looks to be a near perfect ‘good to soft’, with the prospect of a drying day on the Knavesmire.
Another similar stone’s throw away from York racecourse is the Hambleton stables of Kevin Ryan, and he will have invariably had the Dante meeting marked down as one of the early season targets for many of his string.
The 18-runner Churchill Tyres Handicap at 2.10 this afternoon features three of Ryan’s sprint handicappers, and it seems as if two of them have ticks in many boxes when it comes to unlocking a York sprint handicap.
Bielsa at 13/2 and Magical Spirit at 9/1 are both worth backing each-way with Sky Bet, who offer a whopping 7 places should 18 runners line-up, and it would still be paying out on 6 places if 16 or more run.
Sprinters often see their form improve for racing, and so it is reassuring to see both Bielsa and Magical Spirit have had a run within the last three weeks, and both were full of promise to boot. Bielsa travelled with zest and enthusiasm on ground livelier than he would ultimately want at Ayr, and similar comments could apply to Magical Spirit at Doncaster.
Bielsa’s form has the look of a horse that could be edging towards the unfulfilled section that can befall many a decent young sprinter. But there are reasons to exercise forgiveness last season, as he was drawn away from the main action in the Ayr Gold Cup and also behind Gulliver here at York after that.
Magical Spirit was not so unfortunate in the Ayr Silver Cup, winning impressively, before suffering the same fate as stablemate Bielsa, when drawn next to him in a high box behind Gulliver. The draw has seemingly been much kinder to them today, as stall 10 and 12 are just about perfect to take aim down the centre of the track. Plus, there is pace all around them too, ensuring the Ryan-trained duo can be dragged into the race nicely.
At 13/2 and 9/1 each-way about Bielsa and Magical Spirit with SkyBet, I would be extremely disappointed if they weren’t in the first 6 or 7 home, if not significantly better.