1.45 - Sky Bet Handicap (1m4f)
'Only' 11 runners for this opening handicap at York but all sorts of possibilities exist nonetheless. The pair that stand out on paper are Zabeel Champion and Alfaatik, for different reasons.
The former landed successive handicaps at Newmarket (1m2f) in June/July for Mark Johnston and put up a personal best in finishing second at Glorious Goodwood last time; strongly hinting he's ready for this extended journey.
John Gosden's son of Sea The Stars meanwhile was an 850,000 gns purchase as a youngster and made a winning start at Chelmsford in 2018. He raced only twice last year, disappointingly, and has been gelded during his absence. He could have plenty more to offer on resumption but is a risky proposition at this moment.
That's not the case with Mark Johnston's other runner KING'S CAPER, who could have a big say here. The New Approach colt has faced some stiff tasks this summer, in a Lingfield Derby Trial and at Royal Ascot in a handicap won by recent Group 3 winner Hukum. He then finished second in the Italian Derby before a decent effort at Goodwood last month where he had top-weight against some promising three-year-olds.
He's eased 1lb in the ratings and has a nice racing weight here taking on older horses and looks a solid each-way contender.
It's a while since we've seen ON TO VICTORY on the level, not since his days with Eve Johnson-Houghton, but he is another that takes the eye. Alan King's record with Flat performers is ever-strengthening and a mark of 98 gives the six-year-old plenty of scope on his previous best in this sphere; which includes a solid fourth over 1m6f at this meeting in 2017. This trip is about as sharp as he'd want but Tom Marquand is on board and they have a chance.
2.15 - Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup Stakes (Group 2, 2m)
Seven contenders for the Lonsdale Cup and each of them will be thanking their lucky stars that the mighty Stradivarius is at home in Clarehaven with connections having opted to skip the hat-trick bid.
That leaves an open contest and a chance for the likeable NAYEF ROAD to step out of the shadow of the greatest stayer in a generation.
Last year's Gordon Stakes winner (also third in the St Leger) reappeared in June with a fine win in the Group 3 Sagaro Stakes on the all-weather at Newcastle and has since finished second-best behind Stradivarius at Royal Ascot and Glorious Goodwood. That most recent effort was gallant, forcing the running for much of the journey and remaining within a length of the winner at the line.
The Galileo colt holds a class edge on the likes of Who Dares Wins and last year's Cesarewitch winner Stratum and would be a meritorious winner of this race.
John Gosden fires the admirable mare Enbihaar at this prize with his star stayer at home. She gets 3lb from the boys and arrives here having won a three-runner Lillie Langtry Stakes at Goodwood as she pleased last time, her second win in that race. She's yet to race over the trip and does her very best on quicker ground than is forecast. This, too, is her toughest assignment to date.
The biggest danger to Nayef Road might come from DASHING WILLOUGHBY, 2-2 this season and a good winner of the Henry II Stakes at Sandown last month over this trip (Withhold well held in fourth). He could have more to offer at this distance for Andrew Balding and Oisin Murphy and is improving, but he has twice finished behind the selection in the past and has ground to make up.
2.45 - Gimcrack Stakes (Group 2, 6f)
A cracking renewal of the Gimcrack with five unbeaten colts in a field of 10 runners boasting 13 race wins between them already. A Richard Hannon two-year-old that wins first time out is usually better than average and so Mohawk King needs respecting as the Marlborough handler seeks successive wins in this Group 2. He had subsequent winner and re-opposing Minzaal behind that day, though the runner-up Churchill Bay was disappointing in a nursery here on Wednesday.
MYSTERY SMILES is high on the shortlist for Andrew Balding, whose team continue in such good form. He had a next-time-out winner behind when making a perfect start at Windsor last month and followed that up by running down the 97-rated and experienced Zamaani at Chester 10 days ago. More progress is likely from the King Power runner.
Seven Brothers is 2-2 having defied a penalty over this C&D recently and will handle any ground, he's a player, while Devilwala should have improvement after a winning debut for the hot Archie Watson yard and Yazaman is solid, having twice finished second in this grade already.
Nigel Tinkler's UBETTABELIEVEIT gets the nod however with the potential for further improvement tackling 6f for the first time. He's 2-3 so far and won the Listed National Stakes at Sandown last time with something to spare. That run, and his previous Doncaster success, offered plenty of hope that he'll excel over this longer trip and he can provide Oisin Murphy with back-to-back wins in the Gimcrack.
3.15 - Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes (Group 1, 5f)
BATTAASH against the clock? Maybe. It soon will be if the brilliant sprinter carries on scaring off the opposition. The Nunthorpe is accustomed to attracting 19-runner fields in recent times but only seven having turned up to take on the champion this year - the lowest tally since Coolmore began sponsoring this race in 2007.
There's good reason to swerve. Charlie Hills' speed-bullet broke a 29-year track record in this contest last year, winning a first Nunthorpe at the third attempt and laying to rest any suggestion he had a 'York hoodoo'. This remarkable sprinter is perhaps better than ever at six and has adopted 'breaking track records' as his go-to thing now (smashed his own PB at Glorious Goodwood last time). Like Ghaiyyath on Wednesday in the Juddmonte, it's the ability Battaash has to keep going faster than his rivals are comfortable with for the whole race that sets him apart. It's hard to see anything living with him.
Art Power and A'ALI are the young pretenders, both three-year-olds enjoying excellent campaigns thus far. Tim Easterby's challenger mopped up a Royal Ascot handicap in June and confirmed that promise with a Group 3 win in Ireland since. Any give underfoot will be fine for him.
A'Ali also boasts form on all ground and he's back on an upward curve following wins at Sandown, where he readily overhauled King's Stand third Liberty Beach, and in the Sapphire Stakes at the Curragh recently. Simon & Ed Crisford have their team in exceptional order this summer and the Society Rock colt may be second best. His hold-up style should ensure he's not involved with Battaash early on and he will finish to good effect. Art Power on the other hand likes to be up there and that's risky given Battaash is breaking from stall three, with this pair flanking him.
3.45 - British Stallion Studs EBF Convivial Maiden Stakes (7f)
The late defection of Maximal leaves this contest at the mercy of NAVAL CROWN in all probability. The Dubawi colt ran well in third on debut at Newmarket and has since improved on that to finish in the same slot in a Listed Ascot race over this trip. The fourth home won the Listed Denford Stakes at Newbury last weekend and so Charlie Appleby's charge is likely to have the measure of these rivals with further progress very possible.
The newcomers should be monitored for confidence but perhaps the main threat is RUSHMORE. A 500,000 gns Lope De Vega colt, he was too green to do himself justice on debut in a hot novice contest at Newbury last month. Andrew Balding's charges are in fine fettle now and, with that outing behind him, this well-bred sort should do much better on his second day at school.
4.15 - British Stallion Studs EBF Fillies' Handicap (1m2f)
A second clash between Chamade and WALIYAK here, with Ralph Beckett's top-weight having upset the favourite last month at Goodwood. She made the most of a perfect draw in stall one and never saw a rival under Harry Bentley that afternoon. David Egan meanwhile made good late ground to finish second-best on the day as 13/8 market leader.
Roger Varian's filly is 5lb better off on these terms and, on a more conventional track, is well placed to turn things around with Andrea Atzeni back in the saddle. Her Sandringham second (soft) at Royal Ascot is worth recalling.
FIRST KINGDOM was defeated in a Listed race in France last month and she possibly paid the price for her early exertions on first attempt at a mile and a quarter. The Frankel filly is well worth another go and, with Chamade in the pack today, she can perhaps be ridden more patiently by the in-form Tom Marquand - who takes over for the first time in seeking to further his excellent strike-rate for the William Haggas team in 2020 (22 per cent).
4.50 - Sky Bet Mile Stakes (Handicap, 1m)
This is a competitive handicap to conclude day three but COLD FRONT is much respected on his first foray into this company nonetheless. He built on his earlier promise to make all the running and decisively win a Haydock maiden over 7f last month. That form has been boosted as the runner-up easily won next time out and, from an opening mark of 91, this promising three-year-old should have a big say for a trainer and jockey enjoying such a fine summer together.
Mon Choix bids for a hat-trick but faces a tougher task this time, while Overwrite cannot be crossed off despite losing last week's Newbury win in the stewards' room. He has though taken a lot of racing recently. His returning stablemate Visinari goes handicapping for the first time and is worth monitoring with Ryan Moore booked.
A host of these three-year-olds are in form and have scope for better things, Finest Sound, Cloud Drift and Eastern World amongst them, but HARTSWOOD seems to relish the Knavesmire and last month's C&D winner certainly hasn't been taken out of contention with a 6lb rise in the ratings for trainer Richard Fahey. He's drawn well and looks sure to give a good account again.