YORK EBOR PREVIEW

The popular York Ebor meeting was extended to four days last year and it’s a four-day Festival again.  The going is likely to be on the soft side of good making this year’s betting much more interesting than usual with some big favourites likely to flounder in the mud.

One to be cautious about is “hot” trainer Richard Hannon whose record at this meeting hasn’t been good with only 2 winners in the past 10 years.  Trainers to note are Luca Cumani and Tim Easterby.

TUESDAY, AUGUST 17

Juddmonte International Stakes (Group 1; 3yo+; 10f; 3:25 p.m. GMT)

The three year old Dick Turpin was supplemented by Richard Hannon and has created lots of betting interest.  He was 2nd in both the English and French 2000 Guineas and 2nd again at Ascot in the Group 1 St James Palace Stakes (beaten a length by stable companion Canford Cliffs) before finally winning a Group 1 in France at Chantilly.

This is a step up to 10f and he’ll be tackling some top class older horses so he’ll need to improve.  He has the look of a somewhat exposed three year old now and his trainer’s record at this meeting doesn’t inspire confidence despite the phenomenal year Hughsie and Hannon have been experiencing so far.  I’m expecting the winner to come from a trio of older horses.  Byword and Twice Over were first and second respectively in Ascot’s Group 1 Princess of Wales Stakes over 10f but Twice Over was unlucky there; short of room at critical times; and left with too much to do turning for home.  I’m expecting him to relish the soft underfoot conditions and turn the tables on Byword.

But both should fall victim to RIP VAN WINKLE who had the misfortune of running against Sea The Stars as a 3yo and had to be dropped back to a mile to win two back-end Group 1s.  He had an unfortunate experience on the pro-ride surface at Santa Anita in the Breeders Cup Classic and, like all of Aidan O’Brien’s horses, needed his belated reappearance at Royal Ascot behind Goldikova.  He returned to form behind Canford Cliffs at Glorious Goodwood and, now stepped back up to 10f with no Sea The Stars around, he is a confident selection and the BANKER BET OF THE MEETING.

SELECTION:  RIP VAN WINKLE (BANKER BET OF THE MEETING)

Tuesday’s best value bet is ITLAAQ (nap) in the 10f handicap (0-105; 4:40) to continue the progressive profile he built last year.  He made a winning reappearance in June beating Satwa Moon much more handily than the official margin of a head and will be suited by all the conditions on Tuesday.

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 18

The TOTESPORT EBOR (Handicap; 1m6f; 3:25 p.m. GMT)

The key to the Ebor this year is the withdrawals rather than those left in the race.  In particular, Harris Tweed (unlikely to get in; has taken up an earlier engagement) would have ensured a very strong early pace which would have played into the hands of the unexposed Elyaadi but, in his absence, FORTUNI (nap), laid out for this race by handicapping genius Sir Mark Prescott, gets the nod.  He couldn’t have been more impressive when slaughtering Cill Rialig at Epsom.  The going was fast then but you can throw out his flop in soft at Ripon last year July.  Something clearly went wrong that day (off 10 months afterwards) and, by Montjeu, he should actually improve for ease in the going.  Dual purpose racer Overturn, who may have been a tad over-raced this year, and the aforesaid Elyaadi are the main dangers.  Use Elyaadi in a reverse forecast as a saver.

THURSDAY, AUGUST 19

THE YORKSHIRE OAKS (12F; 3yo fillies; 3:25 p.m. GMT)

Now that the rains have come there’s no reason to oppose SARISKA (THURSDAY’S BANKER BET) with Mid-day suspect at the trip.  One to note is Snow Fairy who could be on the upgrade and give the selection most to do.

The Goddard Stakes (Handicap; 1 mile; 2.50) provides a decent betting opportunity as IRISH HEARTBEAT (nap), who is only 3lbs higher than when he won the Spring Mile, has been aimed at this for some time now.  If he acts on soft (running on it for the first time), Stoic will be a big danger.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 20

THE NUNTHORPE STAKES (GROUP 1; 5F; 3:25 p.m. GMT)

The well backed favourite STARSPANGLEDBANNER has it all to do dropped to 5f here and, since I think that this is a bit of a stretch by connections and his price is so cramped, he must be my LAY OF THE MEETING.  Second favourite, the trail-blazing Equiano, is best on fast ground and on an uphill right handed track so cash can be made in this race especially as third favourite Kingsgate Native is also best on fast ground.

Maybe this’ll be the day Total Gallery confirms the improvement he made last autumn but safer each way options are old stager Borderlescott or the 2yo STONE OF FOLCA who’ll represent the jockey/trainer combo that won this with 2yo Kingsgate Native in 2007.  His excellent second at Goodwood means this sharp course should suit and he gets a huge weight advantage.

SELECTION:    STONE OF FOLCA

TOP THREERIP VAN WINKLE; SARISKA; IRISH HEARTBEAT

Good Luck!

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