Entries are in for York’s four-day Ebor Festival and they show an astonishing amount of quality.
The World’s Best Horse to Star on Wednesday
The opening day of the meeting sees the £1million Group 1 Juddmonte International take place and now that Enable does not run, the star of the show is the horse she beat in the King George and officially the world’s best – Crystal Ocean.
Sir Michael Stoute’s stable star is still rated 1lb above the Queen of the Turf and if turning up here will be a very tough nut to crack, though with Aidan O’Brien represented by Magical and/or Circus Maximus and John Gosden’s King Of Comedy stepping up in trip this looks like a deep race.
We cannot afford to forget Elarqam either, the son of Frankel having put up a definite Group 1 performance last time over the course and distance with Mark Johnston’s star set to be supplemented for £75,000.
Day one also features the most important trial for the St Leger, the Great Voltigeur Stakes in which there may be the usual O’Brien battalion along with the likes of Jalmoud and Andrew Balding’s Bangkok. The interesting one though is John Gosden’s Logician who is only rated 101 but is three from three and looks a good deal better than his current mark. He could make it a very good start of another important week for Gosden and Frankie Dettori.
The Group 2 Lowther Stakes for juvenile fillies could feature the likes of Raffle Prize and Daayeh, but it could be that Charlie Appleby is the man to watch. His Summer Romance is still among the best young fillies around and it would be very interesting should she step aside for the unbeaten Althiqa who as yet could be anything.
The Yorkshire Oaks is the feature race on day two and this is all about Enable. More to the point perhaps, it’s all about Johnny G. Gosden could have run not one but two 2019 Oaks winners in Star Catcher and Anapurna as well as Group 1 winner Coronet. Unfortunately for him he may have to rely on Lah Ti Dar and Enable which almost makes you feel sorry for him!
This was the right race for Enable to go for; staying at the mile-and-a-half trip in a race she really should win for the second time before heading off for her attempt to win an unprecedented third Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
Sprint Stars Clash
Friday could see a potentially awesome clash in the Nunthorpe Stakes between three sprinting stars in Battaash, Ten Sovereigns and Mabs Cross. The latter will have to go some to make it close with the three-time King George Stakes winner and the current July Cup champ, but she is definitely capable.
Battaash hasn’t run well at York in the past, but there is no logical reason why he shouldn’t and the fact is when it all goes right, he is still the quickest thing on four legs. This is a “win and you’re in” race for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint so it would be interesting to see if connections of the eventual winner are tempted by Santa Anita afterwards.
There are potential early 2000 Guineas clues on offer in the Gimcrack, with Aidan O’Brien able to choose between the likes of Monarch Of Egypt, Royal Lytham and Armory while Threat remains solid and Boosala could be anything, though may have wanted the seventh furlong when winning easily here last time out.
The Ebor Rounds Off the Week
The Ebor Handicap can now handle 22 runners and is worth £1million in prize money, so for once in the modern day the handicap is truly worthy of its “feature race” title.
King’s Advice, Baghdad and Gold Mount are among the principles in the betting but look out for John Gosden’s Royal Line who has a great profile, is still improving and comes here for the yard who had the 1-2 in the race last year and has allowed First Eleven, who had a guaranteed spot, to drop out.