York’s Ebor Festival gets underway on Wednesday and the final declarations are in for day one. Given the quality on show on the Knavesmire this week the Yorkshire track can claim to be holding a festival better even than Glorious Goodwood, but who are the runners, riders and trainers to watch?
We look forward to the key clashes for day one of the meeting, starting with a £70,000 flying 5½ furlong sprint handicap at 1.55.
Dakota Looking for Another Gold
Michael Dods’ Dakota Gold lines up again having routed his field in the Great St Wilfrid Handicap at Ripon on Saturday on soft ground, his trainer knowing the time of day of course and in fact he has a live chance with Mabs Cross in the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes later in the week.
Dakota Gold is in rare form and has won here previously, but this is a quick turnaround for him on better ground and there is a live one against him in the shape of Stone Of Destiny. Andrew Balding’s runner is a typical four-year-old sprinting improver; he won the Shergar Cup Dash last time over the stiff five furlongs so his form may translate well to this flatter, 5½.
Hills to Use a Little Persuasion?
The Acomb Stakes at 2.25 is a good-looking Group 3 contest for the juveniles worth a cool £100,000. It goes without saying that Yorkshire Gold will be popular given his name, but this is a knowledgeable crowd and he won’t be over bet despite his moniker.
Instead, despite being a very backable 5/1, the favourite for this could be a genuine Group 1 contender before long and in fact many shrewd clock-watchers, form students and even stride pattern experts were swooning when Persuasion won on debut at Glorious Goodwood.
Charlie Hills’ son of Acclamation has plenty of fancy entries including in the Group 1 National Stakes at the Curragh and the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket for later in the season.
Logic Points to Another Gosden/Dettori Masterclass
The Great Voltigeur Stakes at 3.00, a Group 2 race in its own right, is the key trial for the St Leger at Doncaster in September and this time around it has attracted a small but select field of just five runners.
There is nothing wrong with the profiles of Nayef Road, Jalmoud and Norway but really this looks a match between Aidan O’Brien’s consistent Group 3 winner Constantinople and John Gosden’s notable improver Logician.
The latter named is three from three and has been given time off since scoring at Newbury in a handicap and it would be no surprise if we see Dettori getting one over on Ryan Moore once again.
Crystal Ocean v King Of Comedy
The feature race at 3.35 is the £1million Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes. There will be no repeat of Enable vs Crystal Ocean now as the Queen of the Turf is heading instead for the Yorkshire Oaks later in the week, now the current highest ranked horse in the world looks set for another duel.
Crystal Ocean is rock solid and is the rightful favourite after his exploits this year, but we pretty much know what to expect from him now and this flatter track over what is his minimum trip could catch him out for a bit of pace.
His main rival, three-year-old King Of Comedy, just failed over a mile at Royal Ascot last time and has been given plenty of time to recover and to improve. He is a fascinating contender for the Gosden/Dettori partnership and rates as a serious chance in this clash of the generations, though we should not write off impressive course and distance winner Elarqam either.