Climber scales York trial as Prescott sets his sights on overdue Arc opportunity |  horse racing

Climber scales York trial as Prescott sets his sights on overdue Arc opportunity | horse racing

At 74 years of age and in his 53rd season on a coaching license, Sir Mark Prescott was bubbling with the enthusiasm of a teenager in the winners’ enclosure here as he looked out over Paris on the first weekend of October. His five-year-old gray mare Alpinista had just withstood a strong challenge from Tuesday, this year’s Oaks winner, to win the Group One Yorkshire Oaks. He will now head to Longchamp in less than two months as one of the favorites for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

It’s hard to imagine a more popular winner. Prescott has fielded more than 1,300 winners since he took over the license at Newmarket’s historic Heath House stable in 1970, when he was the youngest trainer at the racing venue by 19 years. Prescott won Group One in Britain, Ireland, Germany and France, saddled the two-year-old Spindrifter to win no fewer than 13 times in 1980, and worked his way up on 10 Cuban cigars a day for decades until finally: and a little by way of apology – quit five years ago.

Until now, however, the famously handsome Heath House master has not had a horse with a genuine chance of winning the main event of European racing. “We had foreign relations [in 2001],” he recalled. “We supplemented him for a joy. He won the Magnet here and finished second at the Ebor, then the owners played with their money and had a fantastic time.”

Alpinista, however, is a genuine contender and the living embodiment of Prescott’s famous care and patience with his horses, having progressed in every race over the past two seasons. She had just one body in hand Tuesday down the line, but it never seemed likely that she would relinquish the lead after Luke Morris sent her about two furlongs.

Two years ago, Alpinista finished five lengths behind Love in the same race, so Thursday’s victory highlighted his improvement since then, completing what is now a five-match winning streak at the Group One level that includes a loss. from Torquator Tasso, the subsequent Arc winner, in Germany last season.

“She’s a wonderful filly, she’s gotten better all the time and her great gift is that she’s very down to earth,” Prescott said. “She pretty much moves on any terrain, you can hold her or make her run. She is not worried, she is not boiling, she is not out of her mind, she is not lame: all the things these horses do, so far, we have escaped. She is like people, if they are very direct, it is amazing what you can do”.

Sir Mark Prescott after Yorkshire Oaks.
Sir Mark Prescott after Yorkshire Oaks. Photograph: Hugh Routledge/Rex/Shutterstock

Like several of the best horses that have passed through Prescott’s hands, Alpinista runs in the green and white colors of Kirsten Rausing, who has owned five generations of the mare’s family. In an unusually wide Arc market, he’s now one of three horses with single-figure odds – assuming Wednesday’s International Stakes winner Baaeed misses the race – and can be backed at around 8-1, fair behind Titleholder (6-1) and Torcuator Tasso (7-1).

“I think it’s going to go straight to the Arc,” Prescott said. “She’s good enough to get close. She is there, you have a chance, and therefore you must go. She just wouldn’t want it very, very soft. She’s been dry for so long now that I’m looking forward to a swim race, but there you are.”

TV tips for Friday

It’s been 15 years since Kingsgate Native became the last junior to win the Group One Nunthorpe Stakes and eight two-year-olds have since tried unsuccessfully to emulate him. However, few came to Knavesmire with such obvious claims in The Platinum Queen, and Richard Fahey’s filly is an excellent bet for Friday’s feature race at around 3-1.

The Platinum Queen has won three times in four starts to date and has bagged £38,190 in prize money for the Middleham Park Racing syndicate that owns her. Indeed, there has been a bet on her participation in the race on Friday, since her additional participation cost 40,000 pounds sterling. The only problem in her record so far was missing the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot, when she took an early knock and couldn’t recover.

But The Platinum Queen (3.35) he has built on that experience in two subsequent wins and takes 22lbs off the favourite, Royal Acclaim. Hollie Doyle, one of the few jockeys who can ride 8st 2lb, takes the reins and could well claim her third Group One victory in as many months.

York 1.50: Cormier he has been a model of consistency on both the flat and the jumps since his switch to Brian Ellison’s yard in early 2020 and can follow his recent win at Chester which was the best of his career at the level.

York 2.25: The aura of invincibility that once surrounded Stradivarius he’s long gone, but the eight-year-old remains unbeaten in his six starts at York and could raise the roof with a seventh success here.

Carlisle: 1.00 Castan 1.30 Sophia’s Starlight 2.05 Sir Benedict 2.40 Roaring Ralph 3.10 The Navigator 3.45 Captain Corelli 4.20 Judgment Call 4.55 Molinari

Newbury: 1.10 Sassy Belle 1.40 Uffington 2.15 Bell Shot 2.50 Auditor 3.20 Dark Mystery 3.50 Youthful King

York: 1.50 Cormier (nb) 2.25 Stradivarius 3.00 Marshman 3.35 The Platinum Queen (nap) 4.10 Shampion 4.45 Mahboobah 5.20 Bolthole

Salisbury: 4.52 Gavi Di Gavi 5.27 Hello Deira 6.00 Hurtle 6.35 Dancing Magic 7.10 Nine Dragons 7.45 Nova Legend

Newcastle: 5.23 The Churchill Lad 5.54 Bunker Bay 6.29 Arch Moon 7.04 Northbound 7.39 Bashawaat 8.14 Mr Trevor 8.45 Enderman

Wolverhampton: 6.05 Jack Yeats 6.40 Talamanca 7.15 Okeechobee 7.50 Kitten’s Dream 8.25 Young Winston 9.00 Timestamp


Fast guide

Greg Wood’s Friday Running Tips


Carlisle: 1.00 Castan 1.30 Sofia starlight 2.05 sir benedict 2.40 ralph the roar 3.10 the navigator 3.45 Captain Corelli 4.20 judgment call 4.55 molinari

Newbury: 1.10 cheeky beauty 1.40 Uffington 2.15 bell shot 2.50 Auditor 3.20 dark mystery 3.50 juvenile king

York: 1.50 Cormier (note) 2.25 Stradivarius 3.00 Marshman 3.35 The Platinum Queen (nap) 4.10 champion 4.45 mahboobah 5.20 screw hole

Salisbury: 4.52 Gavi Di Gavi 5.27 Hello Deira 6.00 Hurtle 6.35 dancing magic 7.10 nine dragons 7.45 new legend

Newcastle: 5.23 Churchill’s Boy 5.54 bunker bay 6.29 bow moon 7.04 Northbound 7.39 Bashawaat 8.14 mr trevor 8.45 enderman

Wolverhampton: 6.05 Jack Yeats 6.40 Talamanca 7.15 Okeechobee 7.50 kitty dream 8.25 Young Winston 9.00 timestamp

Thank you for your comments.

York 3.00: Despite costing a fraction of some of its rivals here, Marshman he may be worth an interest around 4-1 after crushing his field by nearly nine lengths at Thirsk last week and posting an excellent time in the process.

York 3.35: champion She must learn to settle down, but the Roger Varian filly has plenty of time to do so with just three races in the book so far. The timing of his victory at Windsor 18 days ago suggests that an early mark of 84 is very fair.

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