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Horse racing preview and tips: Three best bets for York on Wednesday


As York stages its first event of the year, racing pundit Jake Russell has picked out his best bets from the opening day of the Dante meeting

By @ Jake Russell

2.15pm - Sky Bet Race To The Ebor Jorvik Handicap

A very competitive contest to kick start the Dante Festival at York this week, and I like the look of last-time-out winner Crystal Delight for Harry Eustace, who again booked Jim Crowley up after the pair won at Epsom last time. 

That was the horse's first run for Harry, and he got off to the perfect start after transferring from William Jarvis' yard, and he can back that up and win once again here. 

Crystal Delight ran with credit in some decent contests last season, but it was his performance last time on stable debut that caught the eye heading into this. Sent off at 5/2 in the market leading up to the race, he was well fancied by a few, and he duly obliged by making all and forging clear to win by a little over five lengths. 

That was off the mark of 88, so this 9lb raise in the weights to a new career-high could be a little concerning, as well as the stable form, but he is clearly thriving for the new yard, so I expect him to go in once again here on Wednesday to strike while the iron is hot.

3.15pm - Group 2 1895 Duke Of York Clipper Stakes  

This contest should ultimately go to one of the main two at the head of the market, and it would not surprise me if Swingalong is well fancied beforehand, but the form fresh for her is a cause for concern. 

However, Azure Blue can win this race in back-to-back years, as she always does well when running fresh early in the season. If she were to win this race once again, then she would become just the 2nd horse ever to do so for Michael Dods and Paul Mulrennan. 

She was a real improver last season, landing a Listed contest at Newmarket, blitzing clear in the closing stages to beat some nice types in behind. However it was the run after that where she really burst onto the scene as a nice sprinter in the making for the Dods yard, lining up against the late Highfield Princess, where Azure Blue was keen throughout before keeping on well in the closing stages to hold off the challenge of Highfield Princess by half a length. 

She wasn't then seen until the Group 1 July Cup at Newmarket, where she was sent off 5/1 in the market, and although she was beaten by 10 lengths in the end, she still ran very well in a quick race which probably didn't suit, finishing 6th in the end. The ground was good to soft that day, which probably didn't suit her, and although she won on seasonal debut on good to soft ground conditions, she was clearly the best horse on the day, and arguably does have better form on the sounder surfaces. 

The fact that she operates very well when fresh, and that she won the race last season, this would definitely be the plan for her, and her season might revolve all around this race on Wednesday. She has it all in her favour, therefore I can see her winning this before going into Group 1 company later on in the season. 

3.45pm - Group 3 Tattersalls Musidora Stakes       

It is quite hard to judge if this race has real star quality in it at this stage, and with this being an Oaks Trial, it should have some nice types in it but it is hard to tell if there are any real Oaks fillies in it at this stage. 

Seven horses have won this contest previously and then gone onto Oaks glory in June, with the most recent one being just last year with Soul Sister, trained by Friendly Soul's trainers in the form of John & Thady Gosden. 

It has been a mixed start to the season for the Clarehaven team, but they have something to look forward to with their daughter of Kingman, who has had just the two runs at this stage, but is unbeaten and looks a really nice prospect for the season ahead. 

She was a half-length winner at Kempton on her debut in December, so was a very late 2yo, but that posed no issues for her as she went on to win in a decent little contest. She was then given a little break to strengthen from her 2 to 3yo period, where she lined up just 10 days ago in the Listed Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket, which she went on to win by just over a length in the end. 

Kieran Shoemark gave her a really good ride that day, he took the bull by the horns and really sent her to win, and she responded gamely to go on and always do enough in the closing stages to fend off the well-fancied Kalpana, who ran well but you could argue given how short she was in the market, was a little disappointing in the end. 

However, the Gosdens have a very nice filly on their hands here, who you would think might still improve for the run given how lightly raced she is. The obvious concern is the fact that she only ran 10 days ago, but we all know John Gosden is not one to overrun his horses, so the fact she is lining up in this should suggest she will be ready for the task in hand. 

Friendly Soul doesn't actually have an entry for the Oaks, but if she were to go on and win this then surely they will go there with her, given the fact Soul Sister won this race before going on to land the feature Epsom contest last year. 

The Gosdens have won the Musidora eight times previously, so they would go level with Sir Henry Cecil on nine if they were to land this contest tomorrow afternoon. 

I really can't wait to see how this filly performs on Wednesday afternoon, as she will look to take another step up in class firmly in her stride. 


 All prices are from Planet Sport Bet and are subject to change

 All previews and tips provided by @ Jake Russell

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