The second day of York’s Dante meeting gets underway on Thursday and Racing Post tipster Graeme Rodway returns with his best bets on the Knavesmire.
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The Lindum York Handicap (1.50) kicks off the card and the speedy ILLUSIONIST seems a good bet to record his second course-and-distance victory following a solid run at Ripon last time out.
Illusionist is only 2lb higher than when scoring at this meeting last year and has run just twice since, running well on both occasions. He followed his victory here with a close fourth at Newcastle in June and returned from a long absence with a good third at Ripon last month.
He has a good record when fresh, so it was not a great surprise to see him run well there, but this track definitely suits him better and he should go well when returning here off the same rating.
The harder they go, the better the chance he will have of reeling the leaders back late on and Sam James is a positive back in the saddle.
The in-form jockey booted home a treble at Musselburgh on Monday and is riding at the top of his form. He gets on well with Illusionist.
The Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Middleton Fillies' Stakes (2.25) doesn’t look like a strong race and market leader FREE WIND should prove a class apart on her return from a lengthy absence.
She improved rapidly towards the back end of the 2021 campaign when following up a Group 3 success at Deauville in August with a seven-length victory in the Park Hill at Doncaster.
Free Wind made it to the course only once last season, but produced a remarkable performance to overcome trouble in running and easily beat runner-up Sea La Rosa.
The selection was all but over the rail at a crucial stage of the race and had to switch out wide but, once she found a clear path, she rocketed home to score by two-and-a-quarter lengths.
That form is strong as the runner-up went on to land back-to-back Group 2 races on her following two starts and Free Wind is a Group 1 winner in waiting judging on that effort.
The drop back in trip shouldn’t be a problem and she can take this en route to a Group 1.
WALBANK produced his most impressive display over course and distance last season and he has a big chance back at the track in the British EBF 40th Anniversary Westow Stakes (4.10).
He showed loads of speed when bolting up by seven lengths in that novice event on the Knavesmire at this meeting and is probably better than he showed on his next two starts.
Walbank looked to get there too soon when a hot favourite for the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot. He was in front three-furlongs out on that stiff course and got run down by The Ridler.
He bounced back to form when third behind Trillium and the reopposing Rocket Rodney in the Molecomb at Goodwood next time out, but had to switch paths and didn’t get an ideal trip.
That was a strong race from which two subsequent Group winners have emerged and Walbank has a huge chance at a course that definitely suits him, with a tongue-tie fitted.