IT'S something of a rarity when a Group 2 race in Britain has three of the seven runners carrying the North Yorkshire flag, but it's set to happen at Sandown today.
The bet365 Mile at Sandown, which boasts prize money of £95,000, has attracted Richard Fahey's Garswood, the Brian Ellison-trained Top Notch Tonto and Penitent, trained by David O'Meara and the winner of this race two years ago.
It promises to be a fascinating renewal. Garswood won last season's Free Handicap at Newmarket, the Group 2 Lennox Stakes at Goodwood and finished third in Group 1 company at Longchamp on his final start.
Top Notch Tonto went from handicapper to Pattern-race performer, winning in Listed company at Redcar, a Group 3 event at Haydock and finishing second in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth ll Stakes at Ascot after being supplemented into the race for a massive £70,000.
Penitent won Listed races at Sandown and Newmarket.
The ground is expected to be on the easy side of good which will suit all three of the Ryedale raiders.
Preference is for Garswood, the mount of Ryan Moore and a first time out winner last season, who may just have the edge over his rivals, from north and south, as he aims to set himself up for another productive year.
Moore could have a useful afternoon. He also partners Telescope for Sir Michael Stoute in the Bet365 Gordon Richards Stakes.
Winner of three of his five career starts, Telescope was last seen in August of last year at York when he confirmed himself a class act with a victory in the Great Voltigeur Stakes. He looks a horse to follow as a four-year-old.
John Gosden and William Buick could also enjoy a major share of the spotlight.
The Newmarket duo can strike in the opening bet365 Esher Cup with Sacred Act and follow-up with Western Hymn, who looks a fascinating runner in the bet365 Classic Trial.
At Newbury last month, Western Hymn ran out a very impressive winner in a conditions race, having previously broken his maiden at Kempton in December on his only other start. He looks a very exciting horse and will surely be hard to beat as he steps up further in class.
Also worth noting are Charles Molson (3.50), a potentially high-ranking sprinter, and Mannaro (4.55), a Yarmouth winner on his only juvenile outing and a colt with a pedigree to improve considerably this season.
At Doncaster, North Yorkshire apprentice Neil Farley can gain quick compensation on Red Baron in the rhinorecruitment.com Construction Specialists Handicap following a narrow defeat at Musselburgh a week ago.
The Eric Alston-trained sprinter possesses speed to burn, but he was worried out of success in the closing stages in Scotland by Silvanus. Provided he sees his race out in more committed style this time, Red Baron will be hard to catch.
New Youmzain looks a useful addition to Mick Appleby's yard. He won on his debut for his new trainer at Pontefract last week and it would be no surprise to see him defy a penalty in the Trent Refractories Ltd 25th Anniversary Handicap. Andrew Mullen again has the mount.
Mr Matthews, trained by Karl Burke at Middleham, finished well into third place behind New Bidder, trained by his neighbour Jedd O'Keeffe, at Pontefract recently. Mr Matthews is fancied to gain his revenge in the Get Free Bets@freebets.co.uk Handicap with apprentice Joey Haynes claiming a valuable 5lb allowance.
The promising Saarrem (2.20) and David Barron's speedy Next Door (4.00), a winner at Ripon and Pontefract last season, are two others to consider.
1.40 Sacred Act, 2.10 Telescope, 2.45 Garswood (NAP), 3.15 Western Hymn, 3.50 Charles Molson, 4.25 Perfect Light, 4.55 Mannaro.
1.20 Substantivo, 1.50 Latin Charm, 2.20 Saarrem, 2.55 New Youmzain, 3.25 Mr Matthews, 4.00 Next Door, 4.35 Red Baron.
Today's other meetings: Chepstow, Newton Abbot and Perth.
Tomorrow's meetings: Doncaster, Haydock, Leicester, Sandown and Wolverhampton