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John Smith’s Cup: Sonny Liston leads betting for York prize

| 14.07.2023

Sonny Liston is the 7/1 favourite in the John Smith’s Cup 2023 betting odds to land a knockout blow as he steps back up in trip at York on Saturday.

The four-year-old was last seen finishing second to Jimi Hendrix – also trained by Ralph Beckett and owned by Chelsea Thoroughbreds – in the Royal Hunt Cup over a mile at Royal Ascot last month.

Sonny Liston tackles an extended 10 furlongs on the Knavesmire, a trip the gelding has encountered before when third in the Listed Dee Stakes at Chester as a three-year-old.

“I think gelding him has really helped and he was the last off the bridle at Ascot,” said Emma Spencer, managing director and racing manager for owners Chelsea Thoroughbreds.

“I expect him to be ridden the same when he steps up in trip at York, he seemed to switch off well, but obviously Jimi Hendrix was quite a long way ahead of him on the other side.

“I think it looks a good race for him, obviously a very different race to Ascot, but I think he’s kind of proven himself over the trip before and could now get his act together and build on what he did in the Hunt Cup.”

Daniel and Claire Kubler’s Astro King finished down the field in the Royal Hunt Cup, but had previously run well over a mile at York, coming home fourth and beaten just a length and a quarter despite not being afforded a clear passage through the race.

“If he hadn’t run in the Hunt Cup, what price would he be for this?” said Daniel Kubler.

“That first run for us at York was very encouraging. Straight after the race, we were like, ‘here’s a plan’ – because he finished off the race really nicely. So, we sort of always had it in our minds that probably Hunt Cup and then this looked very logical from that point onwards.

“Our analytics and stuff that we do would suggest that he should get a mile and a quarter. It’s definitely something that’s worth exploring further. I suppose the only thing is we wouldn’t want loads of rain. That would be our slight one, we’re a little bit concerned about.”

Simon and Ed Crisford’s Sea The Casper will be a popular pick in John Smith’s Cup betting tips after his sole run of the year ended in victory in a 10-furlong Lingfield handicap.

Philip Robinson, assistant racing manager to owner Sheikh Rashid Dalmook Al Maktoum, said: “He’s a horse who hasn’t had a lot of racing, but he is going the right way and seems to be improving. He’s working nicely and we’re hopeful he will have a great chance.”

Kevin Ryan’s Marhaba The Champ is another horse with York form under his belt after his success over the course and distance in a May handicap.

His owner Jaber Abdullah is also represented by Robinson, who said: “He loved the track when he won there earlier this year. He had a tongue-tie on last time at Epsom (sixth) and he didn’t face it, but the ground should be fine and it’s all systems go.”

John Smith’s Cup 2023 betting odds

7/1 Sonny Liston

15/2 Long Tradition

8/1 Sea The Casper

9/1 Spirit Dancer, Millebosc

10/1 Nobel

12/1 Scampi

14/1 White Wolf, Haunted Dream, Majestic

16/1 Bar

View the latest horse racing odds

All odds and market correct at date of publication



Andrew McDermott

Andrew is a sports betting content journalist at PA Media. He is a lifelong Huddersfield Town fan but when he isn't reminiscing about their Premier League days he is also a junior cricket coach and enjoys cycling.