THE North Yorkshire combination of trainer Geoff Oldroyd and owner Reg Bond head to Knavesmire this afternoon with a fighting chance of bagging not just one winner, but two.
Alfred Hutchinson carries the colours of Pocklington-based Bond in the opening One Marketing Communications Handicap, while in the £50,000 Betbright Trophy it's the turn of Jamaican Bolt to try and lift the feature race on the card.
Oldroyd, who is based at Brawby near Malton, will be pleased about the easy underfoot conditions for Jamaican Bolt, a confirmed mudlover, who has run sound races in both his outings this season, most recently on this course when sixth to Aetna in a competitive field.
That race was over six furlongs and considering Jamaican Bolt's three career wins have all been gained over the minimum trip, the drop back to five furlongs today should be in his favour. Smart apprentice Robert Tart claims a handy 3lb off his back and, in a wide-open race, a bold bid is expected from the nap selection.
Alfred Hutchinson is no stranger to the York winners' circle. He won on Knavesmire in 2012 and has since proved himself a very able all-weather performer. He is, however, no mean performer on turf as he proved when finishing fifth to Navajo Chief on this course earlier in the month over a mile.
Proven over this shorter distance of seven furlongs and with give in the ground, Alfred Hutchinson is fancied to run a big race in a contest where David O'Meara's Doncaster winner Best Of Order may be the main danger.
Ryedale trainer Peter Niven saddles Clever Cookie in the £40,000 Stowe Family Law LLP Grand Cup after the gelding's splendid win in a hot handicap at the Dante Festival.
Previously a useful bumper horse and hurdler, Clever Cookie is two-from-two since switching to the Flat. He now has to prove himself in Listed company and over this longer distance of one and three-quarter miles. A bold show is expected, but the vote is marginally cast in favour of First Mohican, a winner on this course last season, who ran a blinder to finish third to Mount Athos at Newbury on his latest start. He is set to meet Clever Cookie on 10lb better terms than he would if this were a handicap.
Also worth noting at York are Endless Credit (3.25), a potentially useful handicapper from the Luca Cumani stable and Tim Easterby's promising Dutch Breeze (4.35), who should find the switch to six furlongs ideal after tackling trips either side of that in recent outings.
At Haydock, Garswood is selected to come good for Richard Fahey in the Timeform Jury Stakes, a Group 3 event over seven furlongs.
Although below his best when out of the money at Sandown last month, Garswood proved himself a high-quality performer last year when winning the Free Handicap at Newmarket and the Group 2 Lennox Stakes at Goodwood. He is capable of making a major impact here.
Fahey also saddles Parbold in the Sandy Lane Stakes, which is a Listed class event.
A creditable fifth under the top weight in the Free Handicap on his return to action, Parbold has since looked an unlucky loser at the same Newmarket course when fourth in Listed company, again over seven furlongs. Provided he can cope with this drop back to six furlongs, the Malton colt, who was narrowly beaten in last year's Gimcrack, should go well under top Irish jockey Pat Smullen, who has also been booked for Garswood.
Sir Michael Stoute's Astonishing (2.05), who looked in need of the race when behind Cubanism at Newbury, is fancied to reverse placings with that winner this time, and Swan Song (3.15), a fluent handicap winner at Chester earlier in the month, can step up to Listed company. It would be appropriate to see Swan Song win in the same week that her dam, the brilliant Lochsong, passed away.
1.50 Alfred Hutchinson, 2.20 First Mohican, 2.50 Jamaican Bolt (NAP), 3.25 Endless Credit, 4.00 Home Cummings, 4.35 Dutch Breeze, 5.10 I'm Super Too.
1.30 Justonefortheroad, 2.05 Astonishing, 2.40 Garswood, 3.15 Swan Song, 3.50 Parbold, 4.25 Skye's The Limit, 5.00 Early Morning.
Today's other meetings
Chester, Newbury, Newmarket and Stratford.
Fakenham and Nottingham.