Racing: Running style of Great Plains can steal Cup

On the face of it, York should be one of the fairest tracks in the country. Its turns are generous, its straight long and level. Yet the place is becoming increasingly mistrusted as a betting environment, with variable ground seeming to produce fluctuating biases. Historically, a high draw seemed lethal in the John Smith's Cup. Yet this hugely valuable handicap has been won for the past two years by horses drawn 19 and 18, and it seems pointless to be dogmatic in seeking the winner today.

Forgery holds claims stepped up in trip, but may not want the ground too firm and there are two more interesting candidates - both of which carry the colours of Prince Khaled Abdulla.

Public Forum ran deplorably at Royal Ascot, but his success over an inadequate trip on his reappearance had indicated that he was capable of better and it could be worth forgiving him one poor performance.

But Great Plains (3.55) is more obviously on the upgrade, having produced an improved effort at Salisbury last time. His penalty offers some hope of revenge to the runner-up, Fairmile, but Great Plains has very few miles on the clock and his earnest style of galloping should be ideally suited to York, which fairly dependably rewards positive tactics. Abdulla's retained jockey, Richard Hughes, is down at Lingfield - riding Stronghold in a fascinating race against Cesare and Nayyir, sadly with no terrestrial cameras present - but Great Plains will scarcely suffer from the booking of the excellent Eddie Ahern.

The same jockey will be hoping that Lost Soldier Three can repeat his success last year in the John Smith's Silver Cup, but faces a formidable rival in LINAS SELECTION (nap 3.20). This colt bumped into a wolf in sheep's clothing at Newmarket in the spring, receiving just 5lb from the top-class Papal Bull, but has not looked back since and won with total authority when stepped up to a mile and a half at Royal Ascot last time.

Though punished with a 13lb rise in the ratings, he is one of those horses that seem to thrive dramatically for Mark Johnston. The extra distance would normally be a source of doubt but his relentless style of running should be ideally suited to York.

Wyatt Earp (next best 2.45) was often unlucky last season and remains on a fair mark, just 4lb higher than when gaining an overdue success at Catterick in the autumn. The clock suggested that he is approaching a new peak when he went down with all guns blazing at Pontefract during the week.

Chris McGrath

Nap: Linas Selection (York 3.20)

NB: Wyatt Earp (York 2.45)

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