PROSPECTOR CAN STRIKE GOLD IN JCB!

The JCB Handicap at York today (2.25) certainly requires some heavy lifting in the form book but GREAT PROSPECTOR and last year's winner ABOVE THE REST are both very much in the mix.

David Barron's Above The Rest landed this in fine style last season from a slightly higher rating. He finished fourth the year before, so clearly track and trip hold no fears. He's probably a step above handicap class at his best, and Barron will have targeted this Class 2 handicap from a long way back, particularly with his previous form in the race and the eight year old does seem to particularly prosper at this time of year.

At first glance his seventh at Thirsk last time is nothing to get remotely excited about but as ever in these handicaps it pays to look beneath the cover. He met all sorts of traffic issues at the business end under Robbie Downey and was the "meat in the sandwich" at a crucial moment and his chance was gone. In truth that run is best ignored. Downey gets the leg up again today with high hopes of a much smoother passage this time. 

Obviously it won't be easy under 9 - 13 but a high draw in19 fits the bill perfectly as they usually drift to the near rail in soft ground or, at worst, race up the middle.  Well proven in this race he is generously priced and will be primed to perfection by Barron and should go mighty close.

Richard Fahey runs three and while Aljady is shorter in the betting, stable jockey Paul Hanagan picks Great Prospector and it's easy to see why as this four year old is bristling with potential and could be a big step ahead of the handicapper on a rating of just 94. Indeed his recent third to Safe Voyage over this trip and on similar ground at Haydock is the stand out form here.  The winner looked highly progressive that day and has proved it in style since winning a Listed and a Group 3. Hanagan was aboard our selection that day and clearly had no intention of deserting him now.

While Lord Oberon won a race over this trip a Doncaster last November where Great Prospector was sixth, Fahey's horse is now a stone better off at the weights and has more scope for improvement. Hanagan's mount had some lofty targets as a two year old, and was placed at Listed level last season. He should prove much better than a 94 rated handicapper and can take a big step forward today.

Lord Oberon is respected of course as is course specialist Get Knotted who has won three times on this Knavesmire circuit. Mark Johnston's Love Dreams comes here in top form having scooted home over a half furlong further at Beverley last time but that was on fast ground and underfoot conditions will be very different today. No question Great Prospector and Above The Rest will give us a great run for our money.

York - 14:25

 1/2 Point Each Way Above The Rest (16/1 generally, look for 5 places) 

 1/2 Point Each Way Great Prospector (12/1 generally, look for 5 places) 

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