Rathbone on a roll

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Kevin Ryan’s Rathbone gets the nod in the Pavers Foundation Catherine Memorial Sprint at York…

Kevin Ryan’s Rathbone gets the nod in the Pavers Foundation Catherine Memorial Sprint at York on Saturday.

The 1200m contest, confined to three-year-olds, is always a fiercely-competitive affair – and with a total prize fund of 100,000 pounds up for grabs, this year’s renewal is unsurprisingly no exception. Rathbone proved a frustrating horse to follow for much of his juvenile campaign, filling the runner-up spot on three of his first four starts – including a neck defeat in a valuable nursery over this course and distance last August.

He had his limitations exposed in a valuable sales race at Doncaster and the Listed Two Year Old Trophy at Redcar, but a winter break and being gelded during the off-season appears to have had the desired effect. Rathbone made an impressive start to the new campaign with a dominant novice win at Pontefract, and showed he has tenacity to go with his talent when narrowly denying Blown By Wind in a Leicester handicap last month.

Blown By Wind has since gone close in a valuable event at Newmarket – giving the form serious weight – and a 3kg rise for Rathbone’s Leicester verdict might underestimate his potential.

Mekong is extremely difficult to oppose in the Sky Bet Race To The Ebor Grand Cup. The gelded son of Frankel won three times during a profitable 2018 campaign, including a lucrative and facile seven-length win at Haydock. The fact Sir Michael Stoute ran Mekong in last month’s Henry II Stakes at Sandown on his seasonal bow is perhaps indicative of the regard in which he is held, and that faith was justified as he filled the runner-up spot behind leading Gold Cup contender Dee Ex Bee.

There is nothing of Dee Ex Bee’s calibre in this 2800m Listed contest, and Mekong should get back on the winning trail.

Richard Fahey’s Aljady shaped with huge promise on his first visit to York a month ago – doing his best work at the finish on his first start of the campaign to grab third over 1200m.

He is likely to strip fitter for the run, and the extra 200m of the JCB Handicap should suit him ideally.

The Randox Health Scurry Stakes is the feature event of the afternoon at Sandown. Among the speedy juveniles in contention for this 1000m heat is the Stuart Williams-trained Street Parade, who won with plenty in hand on his seasonal debut at Windsor and is fancied to take the step up to Listed class in his stride.

Star Alexander rates the best bet at Bath in the British EBF Fillies’ Novice Stakes. The daughter of Starspangledbanner was a strongly supported favourite on her introduction at Ascot – and while her supporters had their fingers burnt, she showed more than in enough in finishing third to suggest she is up to winning a minor event such as this.

John Gosden’s Waldstern is of significant interest in the Whitley Neill Handcraft Gin Handicap at Chester. This son of Sea The Stars was not disgraced in finishing fourth in the Zetland Stakes at Newmarket last October, and was subsequently second behind the useful Kadar at Haydock. An opening mark of 98 on his handicap debut looks workable. – Press Association

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