I have fond memories of the Charity Day at York as it was the first meeting I worked at the races, as a Timeform racecard seller, though that it was 1978 and now spans six decades makes me feel pretty ancient.
Still, if these four handicappers deliver it will be memorable for reasons other than nostalgia.
2.00 York: Arctic Fox at 5-1 with bet365
Won this prestigious race in good style a couple of years ago and was teed up quite nicely last time for her new yard ahead of belatedly defending her crown.
She was noted staying on nicely at Ayr after an abortive first run over hurdles and hopefully is ready to run a good race here.
I thought she was going to make up into a pretty serious handicapper after that win two years ago but it never worked out that way. However, she does like York, having only run one poor race here - when she didn’t take to headgear – and these amateur races tend to be run at a decent pace, which should suit her.
The handicapper has relented a little and she is now 7lb lower when she won this. Becky Smith is a strong jockey booking in these races.
2.35 York: Dazzling Dan at 7-2 with BetVictor
He never troubled the judges last season but it does look as though his wind might have been the issue and after an operation he has returned this campaign in pretty good form.
He won at Yarmouth and then ran well against unexposed opposition at Newmarket last time out. He might have been on the wrong side as well last time, so a length defeat by the Haggas hotpot, Ametist, who is in the Royal Hunt Cup next week, could be even better than it looked.
This easy 7f at York looks ideal for him and he was rated above 100 at the start of last season. He could still have leeway in his handicap mark if the wind op really has sorted him out.
He has probably avoided the big names who will be at Ascot by running here, but a move for the Tom Dascombe runner, Gifted Ruler, after a lay-off would be concerning.
3.40 York: Blackrod at 18-1 with BetVictor
The booking of Oisin Murphy for a Michael Dods sprinter certainly takes the eye and further investigation suggests this runner should not be amongst the outsiders for this tough handicap.
He came up against a subsequent Group Two second on his debut and then easily beat Out The Hat, a useful type who won this week at Hamilton, on his second start.
Blackrod was sent off second favourite for a Listed event on his only other start but disappointed and had probably done enough for his first season.
He looked rusty on his reappearance but I suspect this has been the target. Several bookmakersare offering extra places for each-way players.
4.50 York: Irv at 15-2 with William Hill
Returns to York, where he has won twice before, for the first time since he regained his form this spring.
He has also been unplaced here a few times but that was during his lost season in 2020, when he never figured anywhere. As a consequence he has tumbled in the weights.
He seemed to enjoy the big fields and good to firm ground when landing his victories and gets both again here so should have no excuses.
He has run well on soft ground on his past three starts, when not always enjoying the rub of the green he gets on well with his 7lb claimer.
We have collected place money on him in recent runs and he has done enough to stay in the tracker but off his current low mark he hopefully has conditions in his favour to register a win.
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