The title race of the week at York, the Sky Bet Ebor, is worth a whopping £500,000 this year and is the richest handicap in Europe. But that’s nothing compared to next year, when the prize will double to £1million next year, which is going to put it in to the big time.
Saturday’s renewal looks a tasty one and I fancy last year’s winner, Nakeeta, to repeat the trick and become the first horse to win back-to-back Ebors for 95 years.
He will have been trained for this race all season and is only 4lb higher than 12 months ago. He’s drawn in 15, three inside from where he was last year and, providing he gets some luck in running, he’s got to be bang there.
Above The Rest has really got his act together and he could be the one to side with in the Sky Bet City Of York Stakes.
He’s taken a while to come to hand but comes here on a hat-trick, having won over course and distance on his penultimate start.
I would have given Kings Gift a shout in the Sky Bet Handicap, but for a dreadful draw of 19 of 20. We’ve always really rated him and he came good at Ayr last time, a performance which I think will have done his confidence the world of good.
This is the first time I’ve been at the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival as a racegoer – and I have been blown away by the experience.
Of course, I’d love to be riding more, but being on the sidelines has given me the opportunity to see things from the other side of the rails.
The choice of food and drink options is extensive and terrific value, the facilities for viewing the paddock and the racetrack are second to none, and everyone seems to be loving the experience.
And of course the quality on the track is exceptional. I don’t think we’ll see many races bursting with such quality as we did for the Juddmonte International on Wednesday.
William Derby and his team have also done a terrific job in maintaining perfect racing ground and you won’t hear one jockey with any complaints about the going this week.
As for my injury, hopefully it’s a case of weeks, rather than months, in terms of getting back to race-riding.
I’m certainly feeling less sore and I’ve been on the rowing machine with no ill effects. I’m in a position to start running again soon, which is a good sign.
I’ve enjoyed some time off in Ireland, where I have lots of family and managed to take in the All Ireland Hurling Final between Limerick and my side Galway.
Limerick won in the end and JP McManus, who sponsors the team, was an ecstatic man. I have to say he looked happier than when he won the Grand National!
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