This years renewal of the Duke Of York Blue Square Stakes (G2) is an interesting affair run over the six furlong straight on the Wednesday of the Dante Meeting. There is a mix of experience on offer and some very impressive types but who will infact be the winner?
Well my first part of call with all major races is to analyse the race favourite and look for holes in form. On this occasion the favourite is Main Aim and there are holes a plenty but on official figures then if this horse performs to it's potential like last Summer then he wins nicely. However a consecutive under performing run of three races really does compromise his chances and at just 5-2 odds he is opposable.
Looking at the history of the last 10 years then statistics that could help me find the winner include the fact that no recent winner has managed to win this race having had less than 12 previous career runs. It also highlights the lack of a winner aged three (none having won since 1999). If these trends were to hold up then you can discount prominently backed horses like Showcasing and Mullionmileanhour. If we were to be very strict with this trend then you can also discount Damien and Doncaster Rover who have both raced 11 times previously. I am willing to remove them from the list of possibilities as I feel both are not upto Group 2 level in anycase. No female horse has won since 2001 and so I would take out Angelzarke from the likely winners pot as well. Not to be sexist but I would rather be betting on fillies in the Autumn, not Spring. We can also easily remove Judd Street from the list as no horse older than 7 has managed to win.
I am also not keen to bet on Prime Defender as he has only run 4 days previously. I am never keen on horses so early in the season making their reappearance so quickly. Even at 100% he would need a career best and I imagine him not being at that level having already run at the weekend.
This leaves just four horses to consider.
Starspangledbanner trained by Aiden Obrien.
Sayif trained by Peter Chapple-Hyam
Edge Closer trained by Richard Hannon
Inxile trained by David Nicholls
I have had nicely priced winning bets from two of the above horses in recent past. Sayif was a Group 2 scorer for me last season but he carries a penalty here for that success and so I am put off as I would like to see him show some form and prove he is capable of carrying a penalty against high class rivals before I back him.
Edge Closer has not run a good race since 2008 and was last in this race last season. Even though Richard Hannon is in form I find it hard to imagine he will be primed and ready to run, especially as they have not attempted to get regular rider Richard Hughes in the saddle.
Just two therefore remain and I am interested in the fact Aiden O'Brien has brought over 11 runners to England in 2010 and has yet to win. That could be a pointer towards his stable being abit backward still and so at the prices on offer I would oppose him too.
This leaves Inxile as the only remaining runner not discounted by trends or opinion. On his most recent start this horse scored a career best over six furlongs which previously had not been considered a suitable trip. The horse was very slow to mature by all accounts and so the fact he has only shown his best form now he is five years old means that this may not be a one off run.
It is also telling how good David (Dandy) Nicholls is with training sprinters. Regal Parade excelled last season as a five year old for this trainer winning the Group 1 Sprint Cup at Haydock. The odds of 12-1 are not over exciting but I can imagine them being shorter before the off.
There may still be further improvement and if so then this could be the bet of the race.
Inxile - 12-1 is on offer with various bookmakers.
....but beware of the favourite and the other three runners mentioned in bold (above).