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WELL-HANDICAPPED BOND CAN GO ON FROM DANTE FESTIVAL EFFORT
Although Kevin Ryan’s five-year-old could never lay a glove on the uncatchable Master Carpenter in this richly endowed 1m 2f Class 2 handicap, he pitched up with a chance two out before fading into ninth.
Erik The Red drew a blank in 2016 but is rarely dropped by the assessor on the back of a string of consistently solid efforts in defeat. This was still an encouraging reappearance and once his northern powerhouse yard hits full stride, Erik The Red will be a force yet again in these fiendishly difficult-to-unravel handicaps.
David Griffiths possesses a magical touch with these battle-scarred sprinters and Duke Of Firenze continued his love affair with the Knavesmire under a cool ride from David Allan. Duke Of Firenze will be heading for the Epsom Dash, a race he won for Sir Michael Stoute in 2013 before moving to Griffiths for a bargain 16,000 guineas via a spell with Robert Cowell.
It’s worth recalling he beat Brando at the Ebor meeting, finished third in the Dash and sixth in the Prix de l'Abbaye, so is a cut above most of his regular sprinting rivals on a going day. A kind draw would make a second Dash triumph a distinct possibility.
Having his first start in 330 days, Victory Bond laid down a significant marker for a big pot later in the season. Pat Cosgrove was in no hurry on the lightly-raced four-year-old, making his move from midfield when still quite a bit out of his ground. As winner Here Comes When forged clear, Victory Bond was working his way into third spot, just behind Chelsea Lad, without being knocked about.
After landing the odds last season in a Ripon maiden, a stepping stone favoured by trainer William Haggas, Victory Bond was pitched straight into the Dante no less, running exceptionally well (sixth) behind Wings Of Desire. He can win off this mark of 100.
Micky Hammond’s six-year-old gelding has turned over a new leaf of late and produced another cracking effort to finish third to Injam and Graceland in this staying handicap. Blue Hussar has scored twice over hurdles at Kelso and Wetherby, and the son of Montjeu, exclusively campaigned over 12 furlongs in recent times, has appreciated a belated step up to two miles. He remains at the top of his game.
Opinion was divided whether On Her Toes would have collared winner Tomyris with a clearer passage in this Listed fillies’ contest. Ryan Moore tried his best to find adequate racing room as his Cheveley Park Stud filly stayed on gamely under pressure but he was forced to switch inside the final furlong.
On Her Toes, a three-time winner last summer at Windsor, Pontefract and Sandown, was resuming after a 286 day lay-off and should be a little sharper for this excellent effort.
A sloppy break made life difficult for Andrea Atzeni but he appeared unflustered on the well-backed Gibbs Hill. As the race panned out, front-runner Lord Yeats maintained a relentless gallop up the straight, leaving his rivals floundering. On holding ground it was very difficult for horses coming from the rear and Gibbs Hill did well to grab third spot, right on the heels of Burguilles.
Roger Varian’s colt had gone up 9lb for his ridiculously easy Wolverhampton success but Gibbs Hill left the impression he was perfectly capable of defying his new mark under more advantageous circumstances.