(Hoof It - one of the most popular horses in training & could take some stopping in the Duke of York)
The Group Two 6 furlong Duke of York Stakes is one of the best sprint races this side of Royal Ascot & some high class sorts have taken it in the past so we're looking for a proven pattern race performer here & the one fitting the bill is Mick Easterby's Hoof It. Last seen finishing a close up & somewhat unlucky 3rd in the Group One Betfred Sprint Cup at Haydock, Hoof It is a three time winner here & won at the meeting on his seasonal debut last year, taking a 20 runner handicap off a mark of 99. Hoof It continued to improve through the season, winning twice more, again at York & then following up under a penalty in the ultra competitive Stewards Cup. Hoof It's only failures seemed slightly unfortunate with him being taken to the front slightly too soon in the Wokingham & then racing too far away from the favoured ground in the Nunthorpe & was carried left at Haydock. Most of Hoof It's form has come on better ground but he is by Monsieur Bond who sires plenty of mud lovers & he also took this race back in 2004, Hoof It can follow in his hoof steps & odds of 7/2 look value for a true Group One horse. Mayson is improving rapidly & is aiming to make the step up after winning a Listed & then Group 3 race in his last two, although this is considerably stronger & The Cheka easily beat him in the Cammidge at the end of March. Society Rock goes unpenalised for a Group One success in the Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot but was behind Hoof It at Haydock last year & we reckon the big horse will confirm that form.
(Granston goes exceptionally well fresh & is making his seasonal debut in the 3.35)
The open betting in the 3.35 suggests a really tricky betting event but we reckon Granston at odds of 20/1 is a solid proposition as he looks to continue a fine run of seasonal debuts. James Bethell's grey is now an 11 year old but he continues to perform at a high level & last year hit his joint highest handicap rating so looks to still be enjoying things. From 2006 Granston's seasonal turf debut from reads 2-12-1-2-2-1 & although he looks to be slightly better on faster ground he was only just touched off in a class 3 at Haydock off a 3 pound higher mark on good to soft ground last June, he's only tackled class 4 opposition in two of his last 23 runs & has a win & a 2nd to show for it, the current odds on offer are underrating his chances. Vasily & The Fun Crusher are wholly unexposed & with improvement could prove big dangers whilst Eagle Rock has turned into a decent hurdler, finishing 4th in the Grade One novice race at Aintree, & if transferring that back to the flat could run a nice race. There are plenty of ifs & maybes in the race but we've seen year after year that Granston is a top performer on his first race back & is running off a reasonable mark, time may catch up with the old boy at some point but until we see it we'll stay by his side.
York 3.00 - Hoof It to win at 7/2 (general)
York 3.35 - Granston each way at 20/1 (various)