Twenty horses will do battle for the first prize of £93,375 in the 56th John Smith’s Cup at York on Saturday. With a total of £150,000 up for grabs, it’s no surprise to see the Knavesmire draw a classy and competitive field and here, we preview the race for you.
56th John Smith’s Cup Preview
At the time of writing, Luca Cumani’s Mount Logan heads the market at a price of 7/1. He is a deserved favourite given he lightly-raced son of New Approach will be coming in in-form on the back of his Royal Ascot fourth in the Wolferton Handicap.
That effort looks sound in the context of this race and in fact, is probably worth an upgrade given the late ground he had to make up having been hampered halfway up the Ascot straight. It was a messy race really given they didn’t appear to go that fast and those that raced up with the pace were favoured. Mount Logan was in mid-division so his effort was sound.
Should Luca Cumani’s charge get a fairer set of circumstances to run at – with his three pounds claimer Kevin Stott aboard – he is capable of running well.
From the Wolferton Handicap, Sennockian Star was second. He represents the very much in-form Mark Johnston at the moment and having shown his wellbeing last time out is respected.
While that is the case, however, the son of Rock of Gibraltar did benefit from the pace scenario that played out at Royal Ascot and it remains to be seen whether he can uphold the placings with those behind.
His stablemate Fire Fighting was third despite having to carry a welter burden. Unfortunately, he has been shouldered with top-weight in Saturday’s race and that makes life tough.
The son of Solider Of Fortune was another who wasn’t suited by the way the race transpired at Ascot, and so, is still considered.
From a poor draw in the Wolferton he had to sit and suffer out wide giving away ground throughout the trip.
He still managed to run a big race, though, and he is sure to run well again, but after 38 races and carrying top-weight, you just wonder is there a better handicapped and more progressive horse further down the weights. The likely answer is yes, but he is still respected.
Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor is another who has his team in rude health at the moment and First Flight, seventh in the Wolferton, is one more horse from that race we must consider. Having made a hugely encouraging seasonal début over this course and distance, he was fancied going to Royal Ascot.
The son of Invincible Spirit was an additional victim of the sedate gallop and in the circumstances he ran well; he also had a poor draw to deal with. Connections have reached for first time cheek-pieces and with him having shown good form at the track and still being lightly-raced, he can run well.
Duke of Edinburgh Stakes winner Arab Dawn will represent trainer Hughie Morrison. The consistent grey will be three pounds better off on Saturday compared to future handicaps and on the back of a smooth Royal Ascot handicap victory must be taken seriously.
The son of Dalakhani will need to be at the very top of his game to win given connections have opted to drop him two furlongs in trip on a speedier track. He travels strongly in his races so that will aid his chance, but whether or not one or two of his opponents have a better finishing kick remains to be seen. He could do with a strong gallop.
On four pounds better terms Ajman Bridge may be able to turn that form with Arab Dawn. He is another from the Luca Cumani stable to run for owner Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum (also owns Mount Logan) and of the pair, is the choice of Adam Kirby.
Both Cumani entries have similar profiles and are tough to separate, but the fact Kirby has chosen this son of Dubawi is notable. Going to Royal Ascot we weren’t sure he was a 12 furlongs horse, but he proved he stays. A strong run ten furlongs may be his ideal set of circumstances so he is yet another horse to consider in this tough handicap.
The undoubted value in the race for us – at the time of writing – is Voice Of A Leader, a lightly-raced son of Danehill Dancer. The 20/1 on offer about Peter Chapple-Hyam’s inmate is very tempting.
This horse was a very useful juvenile before apparently meting setbacks in his Classic season given he only raced once. His return in a good handicap at York 59 days ago was encouraging and if building on that can outrun his odds. The price is big.
Others worth mentioning include Balty Boys who ran a superb race in the Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot despite being drawn on the wrong side of the course. This trip is a big question mark (too far?) with the weight he is to carry and he’s vulnerable to less exposed rivals.
It would be no surprise to see Collaboration get closer to those who finished ahead of him in the Wolferton given he was very keen. He’s been in form and if settling can run well.
Master Of Finance runs for Mark Johnston with Silvestre De Sousa aboard. This team must be respected when teaming up, especially in current form, but a couple may just prove that better handicapped.
Of those to the fore in the market we are keen to take on Arab Dawn who may not have the required pace to drop back in trip. Sennockian Star probably won’t have things all his own way in this race and will do well to hold off those behind him in the Wolferton.
His stablemate Fire Fighting has a good chance of turning the form, but this won’t be easy carrying top-weight and is passed over.
The four horses we are finding it difficult to split are Ajman Bridge, First Flight, Mount Logan and Voice Of Leader.
There shouldn’t be a whole pile between First Flight and Mount Logan again, but MOUNT LOGAN is better off at the weights with Kevin Stott’s claim and he impressed with how he finished at Ascot, whereas First Flight laboured a bit, late on. He’s a skinnier price of the two, but deservedly so. Ajman Bridge is respected, but just doesn’t make the cut.
At the prices we’re also going to suggest a bet on VOICE OF A LEADER, too. 20/1 is too big for a horse that lightly-raced who returned in good heart over this course and distance on his last start.