Racing TV's Jack Nicol pinpoints five horses who expects to go close at this week's Sky Bet Ebor Festival at York, plus don't forget to enter Paddy's Pick 5 Game - which is free to enter (below) - for your chance to win a share of the daily £10,000 that is up for grabs over the four days!
The SkyBet Ebor Festival at York is always one of the highlights of the summer, and this year’s meeting promises to be no different, with four top-class days of action on the Knavesmire.
We all want to see the best horses contest the biggest races, so it is a huge shame that Derby hero Desert Crown will not be competing in the Group One Juddmonte International, but we will at least see the best horse in the world in the form of Baaeed, and he will try to emulate Frankel and his sire, Sea The Stars, by winning the £1 million showpiece on Wednesday afternoon, live on Racing TV.
It will be fascinating to see how William Haggas’ charge copes with the step up in trip, especially if last year’s victor, Mishriff, arrives in the same form as 12 months ago, but I genuinely believe we have yet to see the best of Baaeed and this race offers the colt the ideal platform to show good he really is.
The Group One Darley Yorkshire Oaks and Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes maintain the quality through Thursday and Friday before the Sky Bet Ebor, York’s oldest and most famous race, headlines the action on Saturday afternoon. Best of luck, and don’t forget to enjoy every race plus all the build-up each day on Racing TV.
Race: Tattersalls Acomb Stakes - 2.25pm, Wednesday.
General odds: 14-1.
The opening five -furlong handicap is often a fiendishly difficult race to solve, but a betting opportunity presents itself in the second race of the day where Oviedo rates an excellent each-way proposition in the Group Three Tattersalls Acomb Stakes.
Ed Bethell’s juvenile created a deep impression when winning on debut at Doncaster last month. Despite over-racing in the early stages, the Lope De Vega colt coasted into contention under a motionless Kevin Stott before running green once hitting the front, with the eventual length-and-a-quarter winning margin severely flattering the runner-up.
The Doncaster novice was the same event in which Valdermoro (now named Perpetuum) won prior to Acomb success in 2019, with last year’s favourite and eventual third, Dubawi Legend, also contesting the same race when victorious on debut.
It is a tried and tested path, so 14-1 looks excellent value about Oviedo, who can hopefully strike for his fledgling trainer at one of his local tracks.
Race: Darley Yorkshire Oaks - 3.35pm, Thursday.
General odds: 4-1.
Three-year-olds have an excellent recent record in the Group One Darley Yorkshire Oaks, with only the mighty Enable winning outside of that age group in the past eight years.
During that time, Aidan O’Brien has saddled four winners of the race, including the past two renewals with Oaks winners, Love and Snowfall respectively, and Tuesday will bid to follow suit and enhance her trainer’s record in this year’s renewal.
After a sub-par showing in the Irish Derby, it was no surprise to see her given a break. The daughter of Galileo, a late foal born in June, was contesting her fourth race in the space of just 55 days when disappointing at the Curragh, and I’d be inclined to forgive her that effort when never travelling with any zest.
It says a lot about the three-year-old colts at Ballydoyle that she was supplemented for the Irish Derby, but also the regard in which she is undoubtedly held. Granted a midsummer break, it’s fair to expect further improvement from this full sister to Minding.
The form of her Oaks victory has taken some knocks, but I think the front three are very good and there’s no doubt Emily Upjohn failed to give her true running when finishing last at Ascot last month.
However, this race was reportedly always the target for Tuesday’s reappearance, and I’d bank on O’Brien having her cherry ripe for her return to the track.
Race: British EBF Convivial Maiden Stakes - 4.45pm, Friday.
I’m sticking with Aidan O’Brien here, and he looks to have an excellent chance of landing the Convivial Maiden Stakes on Friday afternoon.
The likes of King Charlemagne and Brave Tin Soldier were beaten in this in 2000 and 2006 respectively but the master of Ballydoyle has not had a runner in the race since saddling two in the 2011 renewal. He breaks that hiatus this year with Salt Lake City, who created a favourable impression on debut when finishing second behind the highly regarded Al Riffa at the Curragh two weeks ago.
Despite racing a shade keen early on, he chased the more-experienced victor under tender handling and is sure to come on appreciably for this racecourse introduction.
By Galileo and out of an outstanding juvenile filly, he is unsurprisingly bred to be the part and it will take a good one to stop him in Britain’s most valuable maiden.
Race: Sky Bet City Of York Stakes - 3.00pm, Saturday.
General odds: 7-2.
The best bet of the meeting comes on Saturday afternoon with Sacred set to contest the valuable Group Two Sky Bet City Of York Stakes.
The four-year-old was a beaten favourite in the Lennox Stakes at Goodwood in July but she was always too far back on a track that doesn’t suit, and I don’t think that was her true running.
Returning to a flat track here, I have no doubt she can reverse form with Sandrine and Kinross, providing the forecast thunderstorms don’t produce any significant ease in the ground.
Unfortunately, there is no domestic Group One contest over this distance, but I am certain this filly belongs at the top level, as shown when finishing a narrow fifth in the Platinum Jubilee at Royal Ascot over an inadequate trip, and her breath-taking victory in last year’s Group Two Hungerford Stakes at Newbury.
That said, this event is a Group One contest in all but name, with York needing to be commended for putting up a prize pot of £400,000, and I think it’ll be Sacred who strikes gold for William Haggas and Cheveley Park Stud.
Race: Sky Bet Ebor - 3.35pm, Saturday.
General odds: 14-1.
The feature Sky Bet Ebor headlines Saturday’s action, and it is sure to be a thrilling spectacle, with 22 runners charging down the Knavesmire.
Candleford has been my fancy for the race since he stormed clear in the Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes at Royal Ascot in June. For me, it was the handicap performance of week, with the four-year-old putting six lengths on the field despite a wider-than-ideal trip. Unsurprisingly, the handicapper took a rather dim view of the performance and hiked the four-year-old up 13lb to a revised mark of 104, virtually guaranteeing a spot in this race in the process.
The son of Kingman produced a flat performance when finishing eighth at Newmarket three weeks later, but I think it came soon enough after Ascot and it was a rough race having been asked to come from too far off the pace. I’m not sure connections would have wanted to sacrifice his mark, either, and the run is best ignored.
There are some negatives to consider, with William Haggas voicing concerns that he believes the horse is better going right-handed, with his charge tending to lug to his right.
It is something to consider, but I think that is offset by the opinion that he is still very well-handicapped off his current perch, and he’s likely to have been freshened up with this race very much in mind.
Tom Marquand will have the option of three Haggas-trained runners, but it will be surprising if he chooses to look past Candleford having partnered him in his aforementioned Duke Of Edinburgh romp.
I had considered Euchen Glen back at his favourite track, but his eye-catching defeat at Goodwood saw him cut across the board, and current odds of 16-1 are too short about this nine-year-old, who has been comfortably beaten in the last two renewals of the race.
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