Kevin Ryan’s Justanotherbottle can go the distance at Ripon’s sprint feature on Saturday, but small field sizes remain a concern with the race attracting just 15 runners

  • The field for the William Hill Great St Wilfrid will be the smallest in seven years 
  • Justanotherbottle is looking likely to repeat last year’s win in the race
  • The horse has had a mixed season so far but is unbeaten in races at Ripon

The issue of small field sizes will again be thrust into the spotlight on Saturday, with one of the season’s feature sprint handicaps, the William Hill Great St Wilfrid, attracting a field of just 15.

The modest turnout has caused the normally well-contested consolation race to be cancelled, impacting Saturday turnover as racing’s rulers fail to address the deepening runners crisis.

Connections of Justanotherbottle (Ripon, nap, 2.50) will not concern themselves at facing the smallest Great St Wilfrid field for seven years, as their veteran sprinter strives to repeat last year’s victory.

Ccould repeat last year's William Hill Great St Wilfrid win on Saturday

Ccould repeat last year’s William Hill Great St Wilfrid win on Saturday

Kevin Ryan’s speedster failed to make an impact in the Stewards’ Cup a fortnight ago, but today’s test represents more of a home fixture for the selection, who is unbeaten in all three starts at the Yorkshire venue.

Justanotherbottle ran about as well as could be expected on his penultimate start at York. In finishing fifth to Royal Aclaim, a hot favourite for next week’s Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes, the eight-year-old registered a career best which augurs well for a big run this afternoon.

Justanotherbottle jumped well from a high draw on the stands’ rail last year under Kevin Stott and proceeded to dominate his field to score readily. Hopefully, Stott can find a similar rhythm this afternoon and he appears nicely berthed to dictate again.

Kevin Stott will ride the speedster in a field of just 15, the smallest in seven years

Kevin Stott will ride the speedster in a field of just 15, the smallest in seven years

It will be interesting to see which path Ben Curtis treads on the well-fancied Blackrod, who looks a shade isolated in stall one with the stalls positioned on the stands’ side.

He could well possess the quality to overcome the disadvantage and his excellent yard have already made a major impact on some of the summer’s marquee sprints.

Summerghand was runner-up in this race in 2019 and did not enjoy the best of fortune in the Stewards’ Cup so is hard to write off, while Emperor Spirit, runner-up to the selection in June, looks another likely to be on the premises.

Justanotherbottle has had a mixed season but is unbeaten in races at Rippon

Justanotherbottle has had a mixed season but is unbeaten in races at Rippon 

Tiber Flow (Newbury, nb, 3.35) has not been seen since running creditably in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot, but the break may prove a smart move.

It paid to race prominently on the straight track yesterday, so fingers crossed Tom Marquand does not give Pogo and Kieran Shoemark too much rope at the head of affairs.

At least the duo are drawn in close proximity in stalls one and two, and Tiber Flow has won both his starts at seven furlongs, so hopes are high he can achieve the hat-trick.

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