York’s Ebor Festival: 5 Things we are looking forward to finding out

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The flat season may be passing it’s mid-way point and there may be just one Classic to look forward to, but that doesn’t mean a shortage of quality action to enjoy, and this week it’s the Ebor Festival at York that is set to get the pulse racing.

With a bumper week of action in store on the Knavesmire, there are plenty of storylines set to unfold and questions to be answered.

Here’s what we are looking forward to finding out in the coming days…

Can Joseph cope with a drop down under nine stone on Australia?

The last time Joseph O’Brien carried 8st12lbs in a race was back in May 2012, such is the challenge for a relatively tall jockey. But that is the allocated load that Australia will have to have on his back in the Juddmonte International.

With a weight-for-age allowance coming into play the Derby winner will be receiving 8lbs from older rivals Telescope and Mukhadram, but will the 4/7 favourite really need it?

He looked imperious at Epsom and followed up with a stroll round the Curragh to land the Irish equivalent, and seems to have struck up a good working partnership with the 21-year-old.

But with Joseph not getting any smaller, his ability to weigh out at such feather weights, and therefore compete in the best races, could be dwindling.

Can Kingston Hill warm up for the Leger in the style?

The final Classic of the season is the obvious target for last season’s Racing Post Trophy winner, but first he must navigate a tricky looking field in the Great Voltiguer stakes, for which he is a 13/8 shot.

A step back up to a mile and a half is sure to suit Roger Varian’s colt at the venue of his biggest career win to date and he should take all the beating.

Do so and his current odds of 9/2 on following up in the Ladbrokes St Leger in September will surely collapse.

The well worn double – 13 have completed it – was last picked up by Lucarno in 2007, and would be a welcome success for a trainer who is certainly going places.

Will Sole have the Power for another Nunthorpe success?

With a solitary victory around the all-weather track at Dundalk to his name, a three-year-old Sole Power lined up for the 2010 Nunthorpe Stakes as a 100/1 no hoper.

Or so we thought.

An explosive turn of foot and a hardy temperament saw Edward Lynam’s charge kick start what would turn out to be a stellar career.

He will be much shorter than his three-figure price if he lines up on Friday (currently 7/2), but as long as the north of England avoids substantial rainfall will surely be bang there.

His biggest threat could come from a stablemate of his in Anthem Alexander. Being a two-year-old filly, the Royal Ascot winner would receive a mammoth 27lbs from her elder rival and could be the one to take the spoils over the minimum trip.

Is Pallasator a silly price for the Ebor?

If he were to deliver in the week’s big handicap at the Knavesmire, it is likely Sir Mark Prescott’s charge would be the shortest priced winner of the race in recent history.

Currently a 3/1 shot, the lightly-raced five-year-old has been a real consistent sort, finishing out of the first four just once. And with that a fifth placed finish in the 33-runner Cesarewitch, I think we can forgive him that one.

But with three 25/1 winners and a shock 100/1 victor in the past eight years, he needs to be pretty good to justify his current price.

Can Richard Fahey regain his stranglehold on the meeting?

David O’Meara had the audacity to steal Richard Fahey’s crown as leading trainer on the Knavesmire 12 months ago.

The Musely Bank trainer had topped the charts in each of the previous seven festivals and will be gunning for his title back.

But he failed to land a single blow last year, and doesn’t have any stand out candidates to tot up the winners.

The handicaps will, as ever, be very competitive, but with the likes of Angel Gabrial in the Ebor and the hat-trick seeking Dolphin Village taking his chance on Wednesday, the chances will come.

All odds and markets correct as of the date of publishing

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.