0.75pts each-way Whiskey Sour @7/1, 0.75pts each-way Nakeeta @11/1, 15:40 York, Saturday

Stratum has been punted off the boards for the Ebor Handicap ever since he hosed up in the JLT Cup at Newbury last month. He looks like the type that could go in again off just an 8lbs higher mark, but there is no juice left in his price at 7/2 and on recent running of the race he seems to have poor draw in stall four and looks like he should be taken on.

His stablemate, WHISKEY SOUR, could easily have a few more pounds of improvement in him on the flat and crucially gets a 7lbs swing with the jolly for a length defeat in the Ascot Stakes over an admittedly longer trip of 2m 4f.

He carries a mark of 143 over jumps and is extremely versatile having won flat races over 7f, 1m 4f and 2m during his career and he is still only five. The ground should be no problem to him and William Buick teaming up with Willie Mullins is an eye-catching combination.

The selection ran a blinder in the County Hurdle at Cheltenham earlier in the season and has competed well in Grade 1 hurdles over the summer. He was also a shade unlucky at the Galway festival when sent off favourite. That is in stark contrast to last year’s meet when Whiskey Sour bagged a double of flat handicap wins within the same week.

He travels well and should come off what will likely be a fast-pace set by Weekender and Crowned Eagle, who are both respected with the former preferred.

It’s also not hard to like the chances of NAKEETA, who shaped very well last time out in the JLT Cup behind Stratum who is also 7lbs worse-off. Nakeeta had a troubled passage in that race, but he showed a return to form and that sets him up nicely for another tilt at this. He won it in good style last year off a 4lb lower mark and he clearly likes it round here having finished second in the Lonsdale Cup in the year previous.

He finished last season in Australia and produced a cracking run to finish fifth in the Melbourne Cup. His trainer has been patient with him this year giving him a decent break, and he has probably needed his first start to get back up-to-speed. His run at Newcastle can be forgiven and he has a nice draw in stall 15 to work from again this year.

On the flip side, Nakeeta is probably not hiding much from the handicapper these days. But if he is now back to top form then he has a great chance of repeating last year’s success.

0.75pts each-way Whiskey Sour @7/1, 15:40 York, Saturday (five places, 1/4 odds Bet365)
0.75pt each-way @11/1, 15:40 York, Saturday (seven places, 1/5 odds Skybet)

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