Duke Of York Stakes & Yorkshire Cup Preview

The Spring Festival at York is coming up on the horizon and this is always a fantastic festival, packed with exciting races. The top contests include the Duke of York Stakes (Wednesday 16th May) and the Yorkshire Cup (Friday 18th May). Let’s take a look at some of the horses we are very-likely to see in action at the Knavesmire, next week.

Duke Of York Stakes


Age: 5 (Foaled March 19th, 2013), Sex: Bay Horse, Breeding: Showcasing – Bird Key (Cadeaux Genereux), Trainer: W J Haggas, Owner: Mr Hamdan Al Maktoum

This William Haggas-trained speedster was campaigned at the very highest level, last year. He started at Leicester, over 7 furlongs in the Richard III Stakes, where he could only run 2nd to Home Of The Brave.

He was then dropped back in trip for this race last year and saw-off a field that included Magical Memory and The Tin Man. Haggas could see he had something special on his hands and sent Tasleet to Royal Ascot for the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, where The Tin Man showed a marked improvement to quicken over the last 100 yards and deny him by a neck.

Next time ou, he ran poorly when folding and finishing last of 10. Jockey Jim Crowley said “It was a strange race, they went very slow. With Aidan O’ Brien having a pacemaker I was surprised how slow we went early on”. Tasleet then finished the season with two 2nd places, firstly at Haydock in the Sprint Cup (behind Harry Angel) then at Ascot in the Champions Sprint Stakes behind Larissa Breeze.

Haggas said after Haydock “we’re going to have to come up with a way of beating Clive (Cox)’s horse” he managed that but found another too good at Ascot. He has had the winter ponder over those performances and get Tasleet back to winning ways.

Harry Angel (IRE)

Age: 4 (Foaled February 8th, 2014), Sex: Bay Colt, Breeding: Dark Angel (IRE) – Beatrix Potter (IRE), Trainer: C G Cox, Owner: Godolphin

This well-built colt won once as a 2-year-old, before moving on to complete an excellent 3-year-old campaign. He started it a little inauspiciously, by misbehaving in the stalls at Ascot, however even though he pulled hard he still took second place behind Reach High. In the Sandy Lane Stakes, he trounced the field – making all and driven out he left the field toiling in his wake.

Godolphin then used him as their representative in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot and after leading into the final furlong, Harry Angel was just outpaced by the market leader Caravaggio. It was then off to Newmarket for the July Cup and again he was a shade keen, but managed to score by just over a length.

The Sprint Cup at Haydock was his next objective and the ground was bottomless that day, but he ploughed through the mud to win by 4 lengths from Tasleet and The Tin Man. The Dark Angel colt completed his season at Ascot in October contesting the Champions Sprint Stakes, where he ran 4th after leading a furlong out.

That race came after a hard season and he was probably over the top. Jockey Adam Kirby said after the July Cup “He’s gone from a boy to a man with every race and I can’t express how good he is”. Clive Cox’s star went on to be named Cartier Champion Sprinter and 3rd highest rated 3-year -old for 2017.


Age: 6 (Foaled May 3rd, 2012), Sex: Chestnut Gelding, Breeding: Pivotal – Argent du Bois (USA) (Silver Hawk (USA)), Trainer: K A Ryan, Owner: Mrs Angie Bailey

This gelding truly came of age as a 4-year-old, winning the Coral Charge at Sandown and then the Ayr Gold Cup where he got the better of both Growl and Hoof it. Trainer Kevin Ryan then decided to leave handicap company behind and aim at some bigger prizes, starting with the Abernant Stakes at Newmarket last year.

Brando duly obliged, beating Ornate by a length, but he finished stone last in this race last year. The horse was then given 2 months off, when Ryan had to shut down his yard due to a bout of Equine Herpes, but he came back a different animal and ran 3rd in the July Cup with Caravaggio and The Tin Man behind. Brando burst a blood vessel that day, so connections were forced to give him a break.

It was onwards and upwards from there, as he went to Deauville for the Maurice De Gheest and promptly dispensed with his rivals. The heavy going at Haydock, in the Sprint Cup, was unsuitable didn’t favour him next time out and he ran down the field. He was sent back to France, but the soft going at Chantilly in the Prix Forest proved too much for him. His final run of the year, in the Champions Sprint Stakes at Ascot (again on soft going), was a disappointment and he could only secure 6th place.

However, he did not get a clear run that day and did well to get within 4 and a half lengths of the winner. Brando came out this season looking a picture of health and defended his title in the Abernant Stakes at Newmarket, running on strongly to beat Sir Dancealot. This fine victory bodes well for the coming season and he should go well in this contest.



Limato (IRE)

Age: 6 (Foaled February 8th, 2012), Sex: Bay Gelding, Breeding: Tagula (IRE) – Come April (Singspiel (IRE)), Trainer: H Candy, Owner: Mr Paul G Jacobs

Unbeaten in 4 starts as a 2-year-old, culminating in the Two-Year-Old Trophy at Redcar, Henry Candy’s star certainly burst onto the scene. There was more to come in the following year, with wins at Ascot and Doncaster, but it was his 4-year-old career that drew the world’s attention. Limato won the July Cup at Newmarket and the Prix de la Foret at Chantilly, on Arc day.

He completed that season finishing 6th in the Breeders Cup Mile, in Santa Anita, which was perhaps a race too far. He started last season with an unusually uncharacteristic run, at Meydan, where he finished 10th and was then kept off racing due to unsuitable ground conditions for most of the rest of the season.

The next time Limato was seen out was in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, at Ascot, where he was badly hampered by The Tin Man and finished 3rd. After this setback, the horse was sent to Headquarters for the July Cup where he was runner-up. The Lennox Stakes at Goodwood was next on the agenda and after having every chance a furlong out Limato finished 4th, less than a length behind the winner Breton Rock.

Henry Candy said after this run “His defeat in the Lennox was 80% down to the ground, which was riding soft. …I don’t see any problem with him handling the Rowley Mile as he is light on his feet. We are toying with trying him over a mile again next year, we will go wherever the ground is right”. Limato was successful that day and should have no problems dropping back to 6 furlongs for this race – providing the ground is right.

The Tin Man

Age: 6 (Foaled February 19th, 2012), Sex: Bay Gelding, Breeding: Equiano (FR) – Persario (Bishop of Cashel), Trainer: J R Fanshawe, Owner: Fred Archer Racing – Ormonde

The Tin Man’s overall record of 7 wins from 16 runs shows what a consistent horse Jams Fanshawe’s gelding is. His first victory came 2nd time out, as a 3-year-old at Doncaster, leading to 2 more wins during that campaign. As a 4-year-old, there were 3 more wins including a great run to take the Champions Sprint Stakes at Ascot – where he won going away in his final race of the year.

He came out for his first race in 2017 in this very encounter, but the Equiano-sired gelding could finish only 5th. It was a different story next time out at Royal Ascot, in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, where he struggled for room but switched decisively- coming home with a rattle over the last 100 yards and leaving Tasleet, Limato and Librisa Breeze in his wake. The Tin Man survived a stewards enquiry for taking Limato’s line that day and it must have been a close decision.

Following this, he flopped in the July Cup at Newmarket (finishing 8th) but put up a far better run next time at Haydock Park in the Sprint Cup. On a dull day and in heavy going, Tom Queally got a great performance out of him although he was never going to catch Harry Angel and he finished 3rd – keeping on well in the final furlong. His final entry of the year was in the Champions Sprint Stakes, at Ascot, where he finished 5th.

The Tin Man was due to run in Hong Kong, in December, but arrived with a temperature and was deemed unfit to take part. The HKJC veterinary official stated “after discussion with Mr. Fanshawe the horse will not be suitable to compete in the race and has been withdrawn from the Longines Hong Kong Sprint”. Apparently he is now fit and ready for the battles that lie ahead.

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Yorkshire Cup

Stradivarius (IRE)

Age: 4 (Foaled February 28th, 2014), Sex: Chestnut Colt, Breeding: Sea The Stars (IRE) – Private Life (FR) (Bering), Trainer: J H M Gosden, Owner: Mr B E Nielsen

This beautifully proportioned chestnut was a revelation for John Gosden last year. His 2-year-old career was pretty inauspicious and he won just once out of 3 starts. Last year, he came out at Beverley in April and positively hacked-up – winning by 6 lengths over 9 furlongs. From there it was off to Chester for the May meeting, where he ran Here And Now very close despite giving him 13 lbs.

It was decided to up him in distance and he ran in the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot. After looking in trouble, Stradivarius managed to find a gap and beat Count Octave by a neck. The chestnut colt was now looking like a 2-miler, so he was sent to Sussex for the Goodwood Cup Stakes where with a tremendous run he beat Big Orange by almost 2 lengths. He was dropped back in distance to run in the St Leger at Doncaster and finished a very creditable 3rd, going down by under a length to Capri.

The horse completed his season over 2 miles at Ascot in October, in the British Champions Long Distance Cup and again finished third after hanging right in race won by Aidan O’Brien’s Order Of St George. Gosden said, after the Leger “he ran a blinder in what was probably the best Leger run in a long time. He is a grand horse and will be a lot of fun in the Cup races next year”.

Idaho (IRE)

Age: 5 (Foaled March 14th, 2013), Sex: Bay Horse, Breeding: Galileo (IRE) – (Danehill (USA)), Trainer: A P O’Brien, Owner: Mr M Tabor, D Smith & Mrs John Magnier

The well-traveled Idaho is one of the stars of Aidan O’Brien’s stable. The Galileo colt won as a 2-year-old, over a mile at The Curragh, which boded well for the rest of his career but his 3-year-old campaign was somewhat disappointing – yielding just one victory (the Great Voltiger Stakes, at York). Idaho placed in both the English and Irish Derbys, finishing behind Harzand on both occasions.

In the St Leger, he faltered and unseated Jamie Hefferman when odds-on favourite to win the race. Idaho completed his campaign in the Canadian International Stakes, where 5th place was disappointing after he started as favourite once again. He opened 2017 with a run in the Coronation Cup, at Epsom, but was never a threat and finished 6th. In the Hardwicke Stakes, over 12 furlongs, he won in style – beating Barsanti by half a length and finishing strongly.  

Sent to Ascot for the King George, in July, he could manage only 3rd to Enable. A trip to the USA was next on the agenda, but Idaho finished down the field at Saratoga. Then came the Prix De l’Arc de Triomphe at Chantilly and in race full of incident, he could manage only 10th after setting the early pace. O’Brien’s inmate then went back to Canada, for the International Stakes, but again disappointed his many fans.

He continued racking up the air miles and went to Tokyo for the Japan Cup, but could finish only 5th. Idaho’s 2018 campaign started in Dubai (the Sheema Classic), but could only finish in 8th place. Connections will be pleased with his commanding victory in this week’s Ormonde Stakes, however.

Torcedor (IRE)

Age: 6 (Foaled April 20th, 2012), Sex: Bay Gelding, Breeding: Fastnet Rock (AUS) – Magnolia Lane (IRE) (Sadler’s Wells (USA)), Trainer: Mrs J Harrington, Owner: Te Akau Torcedor(Mngr David Ellis)

Originally bought for just €70,000, as a yearling, he has proved to be a very shrewd investment for Te Akau Racing. Torcedor didn’t run as a 2-year-old, but as a 3-year-old won twice at the Curragh over 10 and 12 furlongs for David Watchman. He had 3 runs as a 4-year-old without success before his trainer’s retirement came in 2016. Torcedor was then passed to Jessica Harrington’s stable and won his first two races for her at Leopardstown and Navan, both over 1m 6f.

In June, the gelding crossed the Irish Sea to run at Royal Ascot in the Gold Cup and although unfancied ran a decent 5th-  just over 9 lengths behind the winner Big Orange. It was then back to The Curragh, for the Irish St Leger, where he was 2nd and well-beaten behind Order Of St George. In his final contest of the season, he went to Ascot for the British Champions Long Distance Cup and was again runner-up to the same horse – although this time by just half a length.

Stradivarius then traveled to Dubai and ran at Meydan, in the Gold Cup, finishing a very disappointing last but he bounced back from that setback on his return to the UK and triumphed in the Sagaro Stakes at Ascot. He made all that day under Colm Donoghue and was shaken up 2 furlongs out, before going on to win easily from Time To Study.

Harrington said, prior to the Sagaro Stakes “we’ve put a line through Dubai. I’d say it was the travelling. It might have been a bridge too far. He likes the track at Ascot so we’re hoping for a big run”. She certainly got that and connections should have high-hopes for the season.

Desert Skyline (IRE)

Age: 4 (Foaled April 27th, 2014), Sex: Chestnut Gelding, Breeding: Tamayuz – Diamond Tango (FR) (Acatenango (GER)), Trainer: D R C Elsworth, Owner: C Benham/ D Whitford/ L Quinn/ K Quinn

This gelding started well as 2-year-old, winning two races at Kempton and Newmarket – after which he was put away for 6 months to prepare for his 3-year-old campaign. David Elsworth’s charge started that at Newmarket, in May, going down by a nose to Grey Britain in a close finish. He once again showed his fighting qualities at Epsom, in a 1m 2f handicap, where he stayed-on strongly to finish 3rd behind Drochaid.

He was then upped in class and distance for the Queens Vase, finishing a reasonable 6th and seeming suited by 1m 6f. The Bahrain Trophy was his next challenge and Desert Skyline ran a very good race – running on in the final furlong, although going down a length to Raheeen House. At Goodwood, the gelding ran really well behind Stradivarius and Big Orange but did not have the pace to get fully on terms.

He then made the trip across the Channel to Deauville, but was unfortunate to come up against the gifted Marmelo. Elsworth now had the Doncaster Cup in his sights and the horse got his head in front at the business-end of the contest and held-on for a famous victory. He finished the season in the Ascot Long Distance Cup, but could finish only 9th and looked a tired animal. Desert Skyline made his seasonal reappearance in the the Sagaro Stakes, at Ascot, finishing 3rd behind Torcedor.

Rare Rhythm

Age: 6 (Foaled January 27th, 2012), Sex: Bay Gelding, Breeding: Dubawi (IRE) – Demisemiquaver (Singspiel (IRE)), Trainer: C Appleby, Owner: Godolphin

This lightly-raced Godolphin 6-year-old is to be tried at longer distances this season, after wintering in Dubai. His early career was mainly based around Newmarket, Ascot and Sandown, so perhaps connections think it’s time for him to spread his wings a little more? As a 2-year-old, he had a couple of races at Headquarters over a mile – winning one of them. From there, he had a quiet season in 2015 with again only a brace of outings.

The first of these was back at Sandown, where he was soundly beaten in a race won by Dartmouth. Following that, he returned to Newmarket and won easily from Not Never. His trainer, Charlie Appleby, knew by now his optimum trip was over the longer distances and sent him to Royal Ascot for his only run of the year in the Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes, where Rare Rhythm ran down the field after being hampered 2 furlongs out.

The horse then had a 12-month break, during which he was gelded, before returning to Ascot in 2017 and running in the same fixture –  romping home by 2 and a quarter lengths from Appeared, at long odds. The following month, he moved on from that victory into Listed company in the John Smith’s Silver Cup Stakes at York and after being joined for the lead 2 furlongs out was driven out to draw clear over the last 100 yards.

He has been to Dubai for the winter and raced twice, firstly beating Vazirabad at Meydan over 1m 6f then running third to the same horse over 2 miles in the Dubai Gold Cup in March. Godolphin will now aim Rare Rhythm at the major cup races this season, after his exploits in Dubai during the spring.

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