Battaash could face a serious challenge in his bid to win back-to-back editions of the Nunthorpe Stakes on Friday with local hero Art Power and the dangerous A’Ali out to spoil the party.
Charlie Hills’s super sprinter has swept aside all before him so far this season, and now faces his biggest battle yet against two progressive rivals who want a slice of the 5f action.
That three-way battle is the highlight on another tremendous afternoon at the Ebor Festival, which also includes the Lonsdale Cup – minus Stradivarius – and the Gimcrack Stakes.
We’ve previewed the three main races in our ITV Racing Tips.
RACE OF THE DAY – NUNTHORPE STAKES – YORK, 15:15
If Battaash is going to get collared this season, this might be the race. That’s not to say it’s going to happen, but in Art Power, he has to face a horse who we think is a genuine top class rival for the first time this term.
Tom Easterby’s inmate has taken giant stride after giant stride this season, starting off with a 5½l win at Newcastle and following up with a Battaash-like success at Royal Ascot before landing a Group 3 at Naas last month.
In short, he looks the real deal. And while he still has 11lb to find with the best sprinter in the business, who has won both the King’s Stand and the King George at Goodwood – the latter in record time – he has a definite chance.
The ground remains in his favour providing it doesn’t dry out too much, while the favourite has fluffed his lines in the Nunthorpe twice before, even if he did win it in impressive style 12 months ago.
Battaash is still the one to beat, but the fantastic Art Power will certainly give him something to think about. Four-time Group 2 winner A’Ali also has the ability to get involved after wins at Sandown and The Curragh.
NEXT BEST – GIMCRACK STAKES – YORK, 14:45
Yazaman has hit the crossbar on a hat-trick of occasions since scoring well on debut at Yarmouth, and now could be the time for him to get his head back in front once again.
The Kodiac colt has twice been touched off by the impressive Tactical in Listed and Group 2 company before finding only one too good in the Richmond Stakes at Glorious Goodwood.
He had a number of those who reoppose here behind him on that occasion, and rates as the one to beat in another hot contest if he can finally get his head back in front.
Elsewhere, Owen Burrows and Jim Crowley team up once again with Salisbury winner Minzaal, while Mystery Smiles and Mohawk King, who won well from a difficult position on debut, will lay down challenges.
Kevin Ryan has won this race three times since 2012 and saddles outsider Seven Brothers, who defied a penalty to win at Ayr and deserves his chance at this level.
ONE TO WATCH – LONSDALE CUP – YORK, 14:45
Stradivarius has won the last two editions of the Lonsdale Cup, but with John Gosden’s superstar skipping this year’s renewal in favour of a tilt at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in October, it’s an open betting heat.
The trainer saddles Lille Langtry winner Enbihaar in his place, and in receipt of a filly’s allowance, we’re expecting the four-year-old to run well at the first time of asking over this distance.
However, she may have some work to do to get beyond Nayef Road. Mark Johnston’s charge has twice finished runner-up to Stradivarius this term and got to within a length of him at Goodwood last time.
He has the relative form in the book over this trip and should take the beating with Andrea Atzeni on-board.
FRIDAY 21ST AUGUST, EBOR FESTIVAL 3 DAY SCHEDULE
13:45 York – Sky Bet Handicap
14:15 York – Lonsdale Cup (Group 2)
14:45 York – Gimcrack Stakes (Group 2)
15:15 York – Nunthorpe Stakes (Group 1)
15:45 York – Convivial Maiden Stakes
16:20 York – British Stallion Studs EBF Fillies’ Handicap
16:50 York – Mile Stakes
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication