Four days before the start of Royal Ascot, there is a touch of before the Lord Mayor's Show about this afternoon's fare. But there promises to be some worthy entertainment at York, which hosts the 36th annual Timeform charity day. The object of proceedings on the Knavesmire today is to extract money from those who can afford to give it in order to send it in the direction of those who need it. The ploy will have, by the end of today, raised some £4m since 1971. There will be £3.6m in prize-money available over five days in Berkshire next week.
Removing funds from bookmakers' satchels to the deserving destination of punters' pockets may be more problematical and the afternoon's showpiece, the William Hill Trophy, can be held up as a typical example of a layer-sponsored brain-teaser: a 19-runner sprint handicap for three-year-olds. All right, so two favourites have obliged in the past three years - Tax Free at 9-4 12 months ago and 4-1 shot Dazzling Bay - but before them the last market leader to succeed was Sheikh Albadou in 1991. Between times, the race has produced winners at 33-1, 25-1 (three times) and 20-1.
The six-furlong contest is, though, one of the most valuable contests of the season in its division; in fact only one handicap at Royal Ascot, the Hunt Cup, is worth more than its £85,000 purse. And it does tend to attract animals who go on to better things, like Sheikh Albadou, who later won a Nunthorpe and a Breeders' Cup Sprint. Other subsequent Group winners to have flagged up their future here over the years have been Roman Warrior, Dowsing, Cadeaux Genereux and Orientor, who all won at York; Hever Golf Rose and Coastal Bluff, who were second. Four years ago Just James came in fourth and won the Jersey Stakes four days later.
Only one of today's runners, Borehan, holds an entry at the Royal meeting, in the Wokingham Stakes today week. Tawaassol is well-regarded enough to be engaged in the July Cup and they must both be on the short-list, along with Trafalgar Bay and Gallery Girl.
Borehan (3.10) is a thoroughly upwardly mobile young sprinter. A scopey, good-topped son of Agnes World, he was campaigned last year with his second season in mind and caught many eyes in the second of his two juvenile outings, a 30-runner charge down six furlongs of the Rowley Mile. Under a big weight he led the stands side group until past half-way and though he finished 10th he was beaten less than two lengths.
It has come as no surprise that he has emerged this term as much more the finished article, to the extent that he is unbeaten in three outings. Most recently, he won the Newmarket contest that is often a good signpost to today's, confirming his progressive profile by repeating his defeat of a previous victim, by further and on worse terms. The ground was soft that day; he will be better suited by today's faster underfoot conditions.
Borehan is unlikely to turn out again next week, which means he will not immediately emulate Iffraaj, who took the Ascot feature last year for the same connections. Iffraaj has since been headhunted by Godolphin but in Borehan, Michael Jarvis and Sheikh Ahmed al Maktoum may have one in similar mould.
Tawaassol is another Maktoum-owned colt from a major Newmarket yard who commands plenty of respect, particularly after giving weight and a beating to today's rival Imperial Sword over today's trip at Haydock nine days ago, the pair clear of their rivals.
Borehan cost 130,000gns as a yearling and Tawaassol $625,000, but it has already been demonstrated this season that horses are no respecters of their price tags. Trafalgar Bay was valued at just €9,000 as a yearling and did well to beat another of today's contenders, Pearly Wey, last time after the run of the race went against him. Among the longer-shots, Gallery Girl, who kept good company last year but got bogged down last time, makes some appeal.
Like Jarvis, Luca Cumani is more than adept at placing horses and REEM THREE (nap 3.40) looks another improver. The daughter of Mark Of Esteem won a decent handicap over course and distance last month rather cosily.
The Classic circus move on to Rome tomorrow, when Rising Cross, runner-up in the Oaks, leads a three-strong British raiding party on the Italian version. The John Best-trained filly will be joined by Dont Dili Dali (Stan Moore) and Souvenance, from the Sir Mark Prescott yard that landed the French Oaks last week.
Nap: Danger Zone (Lingfield 8.35)
NB: Terentia (Leicester 7.45)Reuse content