A galaxy of stars are set to line up over the course of York’s four day Ebor Festival. Enable and Crystal Ocean come here after their battle for the ages at Goodwood. Both have a favourite’s chance as they are not set to reoppose. The latter is due to contend for the Juddmonte International Stakes on Wednesday, while on Thursday Enable runs against her own sex in the Yorkshire Oaks. Quirkey sprinter Baatash looks to continue his successful summer on Friday at a course he has not always enjoyed. Also on Friday, Stradivarius looks to make it four from four this season in the Lonsdale Cup. The festival culminates with the Ebor Handicap on Saturday, where £1,000,000 in prize money will be on offer.
One of the many things to like about Crystal Ocean is his relentless consistency. He has not been out of the first two in his last 13 races. He just doesn’t run a bad race. In that period, he has been beaten by some of the best horses around including Enable (twice), Cracksman and Poet’s Word. This year he finally claimed his first Group 1 at Royal Ascot, but history may better remember him for his narrow defeat to Enable in the King George after a mighty battle down the home stretch.
He is justifiably favourite here, but 1m2f may be a little sharp for him these days and others come into this race after much easier campaigns and with more improvement still to come.
One such runner is Japan for Ryan Moore and Aidan O’Brien. Always considered Ballydoyle’s best three year old prospect, his interrupted campaign saw him underprepared going into the Epsom Derby. He still finished third there and has improved with every run since. He will need all of the 1m2f here, but his talent is undeniable and excellent connections seem very happy for him to take his chance.
Last seen finishing a fast closing second in the St. James’ Palace stakes at Ascot, King of Comedy steps up in trip here to take on his elders for the first time. The option to go to Goodwood was swerved in favour of this, and the Kingman colt shapes like an extra two furlongs will suit.
Selection – Japan 5/1
Enable has carried all before her in the past two years, including duel victories in both the King George VI and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. The difficulty of her latest King George win is a possible reason as to why road to a hat trick of Arcs runs through the Yorkshire Oaks instead of the Juddmonte on Wednesdsay.
This is seen as the easier of the two options, but the supplementing of Magical complicates matters. The O’Brien filly has faced Enable twice before, finishing second on both occasions. The plan was to skip this in favour of a midsummer break, but connections are clearly convinced that if she is to beat the mighty Enable, this may represent her best chance to do so. Expect these two exceptional fillies to fight out the finish.
The last two times Enable and Magical met, Enable won by 3/4 lengths. Toals are offering a special price of 20/1 that this exact result happens again!
Selection – Enable/Magical straight forcast
The 2019 Nunthorpe could be billed as a match between Ten Sovereigns and Baattash, with both well clear of the rest in the betting market. Both have questions to answer here though.
Baatash is almost certainly the best sprinter in training at the moment. The only horse to beat him this year is Blue Point, and he has since retired to stud. That’s not an option for this gelding, so connections aren’t shy about running him wherever they think he has a chance. His two previous attempts at the Nunthorpe were unsuccessful, finishing fourth on both occasions. It’s uncertain whether his below par performances here are due to the nature of the test or simply down to his quirky personality. He has been ridden with more patience this term though, and that seems to be getting the best out of him .
Ten Sovereignes began his campaign this year in the 2000 Guineas. Based on his strong showings as a two year old he went off favourite, with Ryan Moore electing to ride him. Having travelled strongly, he faded inside the last furlong to finish fifth. Dropping back in trip to 6f at Royal Ascot saw him surrender tamely again to finish fourth. His season got back on track with victory in the July Cup at Newmarket. He produced one of the sprinting performances of the year that day, and the effort was backed up by testimony from Ballydoyle about his work at home. He is presumably still improving but it’s not guaranteed that the drop back to five furlongs will suit him
Selection – Battash 2/1
Also on Friday, we see the return of superstar stayer Stradivarius. He has won all three of his starts this term, most recently in the Goodwood Cup. That made it eight wins in a row for the five year old who shows no signs of his powers waning. He has faced and defeated most of these rivals before and there is little to suggest there will be a different outcome this time around. One runner of interest is the very talented Falcon Eight for Dermot Weld. Oisin Murphy is booked to ride and while the four year old might not be quite ready to challenge the more experienced Stradivarius yet, he has the ability to ask a different question of the champion.
Selection – Falcon Eight 5/1
The Handicap that give the festival it’s name is the highlight of Saturday’s card, and it looks to be as open an affair as one would expect. King’s advice will be many people’s idea of the winner. He has won seven of his eight starts this year and is very likely to be still improving. The Frankel colt is trained by Mark Johnston, who also saddles top weight Communique. He comes here after victory in the Group 2 Princess of Wales stakes at Newmarket.
John Gosden sent out last year’s first and second in this race and comes here with a stong hand again. Royal Ascot runner up Ben Vrackie may be his best chance, while he also saddles the well fancied Royal Line.
The Irish challenge is headed by 2018 Irish Derby winner Latrobe for Joseph O’Brien. Willie Mullens will look to strengthen his flat training credentials with a number of runners here, including former group 2 winner Max Dynamite and last years favourite for this race, Stratum.
One that catches the eye is Salouen, for trainer Sylvester Kirk. This is his first time in handicap company having previously run Cracksman to a just a head in the Coronation Cup last year and comes here having finished fourth in the King George last time out. If the step up in trip suits, he could go very well.
Selection – Salouen 16/1
Toals are offering some sensational offers across the week, including these: