Press Association: York course expected to suit Roger Charlton’s charge
York – Withhold can show he is a stayer of the highest quality by scooping the pool in the first 1-million pounds Sky Bet Ebor at York on Saturday.
Roger Charlton’s charge has already two big handicap prizes under his belt – the 2017 Cesarewitch and last year’s Northumberland Plate – and displayed his well-being with a convincing all-the-way win at Newbury recently.
That was his first run since a trip to Australia, where a blood vessel problem ruled him out of the Melbourne Cup. With that issue firmly behind him and a successful wind surgery to boot, Withhold is clearly as good as ever – if not better.
He will probably have to be because of the strength of the opposition, but his prominent style of running should be suited to the track at York and he promises to be hard to beat.
Six-time Group 1 scorer Laurens can make her class tell in the Sky Bet City of York Stakes. Karl Burke’s stable star may be stepping down to 1400m for the first time since her two-year-old days, but that should not inconvenience her as she has plenty of pace.
She made a lot of the running when taking the Prix Rothschild at Deauville last time out.
Zaaki can get back to winning ways in the Sky Bet And Symphony Group Strensall Stakes following a disappointing run at Goodwood. Sir Michael Stoute’s four-year-old had been on an upward curve thanks to victories at Listed and Group 3 level, before just going down to the ill-fated Beat The Bank in the Summer Mile at Ascot.
Whatever the reason for his below-par effort in the Lennox Stakes, Zaaki can show his true colours in this Group 3 heat.
Stoute can also strike with Almania in the Sky Bet Melrose Handicap. The son of Australia has not lived up to expectations so far this season, which started off with an ambitious run in the Dante Stakes on this course.
He has not been disgraced in three outings since then and it could be he is crying out for the step up to 2800m.
Duke Of Hazzard has been revitalised by the application of blinkers, which has seen him win his last two races.
The three-year-old, trained by Paul Cole, can pass his toughest test yet and complete a hat-trick with victory in the Ladbrokes Celebration Mile at Goodwood. His latest victory in the Thoroughbred Stakes over this course and distance earlier this month showed he is in top form.
Dal Horrisgle looks set to appreciate the stiffer test of stamina posed by the Ladbrokes March Stakes. The William Haggas-trained gelding was a never-threatening fifth to Nayef Road in the Gordon Stakes over 2400m at the course three weeks ago, after winning his three previous races over shorter trips.
The extra 400m seems sure to suit.
Desert Encounter can win his second Group 3 race this month by outpointing his rivals in the Sky Sports Racing Winter Hill Stakes at Windsor.
David Simcock’s seven-year-old was a Grade 1 scorer in the Canadian International at Woodbine in October and regained the winning thread in the Glorious Stakes at Goodwood.
Land Of Legends can make it a four-timer in the Price Bailey Chartered Accountants Hopeful Stakes at Newmarket. Saeed bin Suroor’s charge impressed with a Goodwood handicap win last time and should prove up to the task in Listed company. – Press Association