The Welcome To Yorkshire Ebor Festival takes centre stage on Racing TV this week and Harry Allwood has selected five horses to follow on the Knavesmire.
One of my favourite meetings of the year gets under way live on Racing TV on Wednesday and we are set for four high-quality days of racing on the Knavesmire, including the first £1million Sky Bet Ebor.
Racegoers are certainly in for a treat with Enable, Stradivarius and Battaash among the contenders in action, and we are sure to see some future stars on show with an abundance of exciting two-year-olds set to put their lofty reputations on the line.
The Ebor, as ever, looks fiercely competitive and a tricky puzzle to solve. Here are five to keep on side over the four days, including one in the feature contest on Saturday.
Trainer: Paul Midgley. General odds: 12-1.
Stone Of Destiny just got the better of Final Venture in the Shergar Cup Dash this month, but the latter looks capable of gaining revenge returning to the Knavesmire.
Paul Midgley’s sprinter was probably too keen for his own good in that 5f contest and paid for his early exertions in the closing stages, although he was was only denied in the final strides.
Final Venture has produced some of his best performances over this course and distance, including when second in this contest last year off a 4lb lower mark behind El Astronaute.
Although he has not recorded a victory since 2017, he has won off higher marks than this in the past and should have his optimum conditions.
He remains in great form, having finished runner-up on his last four starts and there is no reason why he should not be involved in the finish once again with Oisin Murphy a positive jockey booking.
Trainer: John Quinn. General odds: 11-4.
Our experts analyse Liberty Beach's victory in the Molecomb at Goodwood
I have been thoroughly impressed with Liberty Beach this season and she should arguably still be unbeaten had she not raced on an unfavourable part of the track when fourth in the Queen Mary at Royal Ascot.
She has since scored twice, with her latest victory being in the Molecomb Stakes where she produced a decisive turn of foot to put the race to bed having initially been denied a clear run.
This will be her first start over six furlongs, but I do not envisage the extra furlong being a problem for John Quinn’s youngster given she was strong at the finish at Goodwood.
Her breeding suggests it will be within reach plus Jason Hart believes she has improved again. He told Racing TV: "She's improved with every run and feels like she has again. She can pick up very well, she’s got a great attitude and mind, and only comes alive when the gates open which is always a good sign.”
Thursday will be Liberty Beach’s toughest task to date as she is likely to be up against a number of unbeaten two-year-olds, most notably Under The Stars who caused an upset in the Keeneland Stakes in July which is useful form.
However, she looks potentially high class and it will be disappointing if she does not take all the beating.
Trainer: David Barron. General odds: 9-1.
Kynren has hit the crossbar in valuable handicaps on a number of occasions and I am convinced he can land a big prize off his rating of 101.
The five-year-old was narrowly denied by the well-handicapped Cape Byron in the Victoria Cup at Ascot – the form of which has worked out well – before returning to the track to finish fifth in the Royal Hunt Cup where he fared best of those who raced on the far side.
He remains on a career-high rating plus has not got his head in front since September 2017, but has looked unlucky not to record another victory and rates a good each-way bet.
A return to the Knavesmire should also suit. He has been placed in two starts at the track, including over course and distance.
Trainer: Aidan O’Brien. General odds: 5-1.
Royal Lytham was not beaten far at Group One level last time out
Aidan O’Brien’s Monarch Of Egypt is at the head of the market for this Group Two contest, but his stablemate, Royal Lytham, looks the one to be on.
The pair failed to lower the colours of Siskin in the Phoenix Stakes last time out, although there was plenty to like about Royal Lytham’s performance on unfavourable ground conditions.
The son of Gleneagles was forced to make the running in that Group One contest where he kept on nicely after being headed and almost got back up for second.
Royal Lytham had previously landed the July Stakes at Newmarket on good to firm ground and is likely to face similar conditions on Friday. He was also held up in that contest and I expect him to be waited with here.
It will be no surprise to see a much-improved performance here from a youngster who has bundles of potential.
Trainer: Roger Charlton. General odds: 17-2.
Watch what our experts had to say about Withhold's winning return
Withhold surprised many, including me, with his victory in the Marsh Cup at Newbury in July having not run since October last year.
Weak in the market beforehand, he looked a sitting duck up the home straight after racing from the front so it was an impressive effort to carry 9st10lb to victory.
That run should have him primed for this £1million contest.
One slight negative is that he was forced to miss the Northumberland Plate – his intended early-season target – having had a known bleeding problem.
However, that did not stop him from producing a career best at the Berkshire venue and, although he has been raised 6lb to a career-high rating of 113, I do not think that will be enough to stop him going close.
The step back down to 1m6f is a potential question mark for a horse with an abundance of stamina, but he is not short of pace and it should not be a hindrance.
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