A fantastic four days at the Ebor Festival draws to a close with one of the most competitive handicaps of the entire flat season, as upwards of 20 runners battle it out to win the Ebor itself.
Impressive Royal Ascot scorer Fujaira Prince looks likely to be the one they need to beat, but with no SP favourite getting the job done since 2007, could it pay to look elsewhere in the market?
We’ve previewed the big one, along with both the Strensall Stakes and the City Of York Stakes, in Saturday’s ITV Racing Tips.
RACE OF THE DAY – EBOR HANDICAP – YORK, 15:40
The last six winners of the Ebor have been returned at 16/1, 11/1, 12/1, 11/2, 33/1 and 20/1, which goes to show just how open this race can be. The question for us, is whether Fujaira Prince can overcome the favourite’s curse.
Roger Varian’s inmate flew home to win the Copper Horse Handicap at Royal Ascot and has been saved for this ever since. He has a 9lb rise from the handicapper to contend with, but that might not be enough to stop him.
On the downside, he could be drawn better, with 11 of the last 14 winners emerging from stall 14 or higher. Fujaira Prince, by contrast, is almost slap bang in the middle after being drawn in stall 12, which isn’t ideal.
It’s a similar scenario for one who we think could go well at a price, in Ghostwatch. Charlie Appleby’s charge will break from stall 10, but importantly does have form on the Knavesmire after winning the Melrose over C&D in 2018.
The Godolphin hopeful will have been aimed at this following his comeback from a 611-day layoff at Newmarket in June, and having improved with every start since, he could be capable of hitting the frame for a powerful yard.
Others to note include Deja, who finished second in a Royal Ascot handicap on reappearance before landing the Old Newton Cup last time out. He’s lightly-raced, drawn high and should go well up in trip for the first time.
Dual-purpose performer Verdana Blue should also run well under the eye-catching booking of Ryan Moore; Nicky Henderson will have the Scottish Champion Hurdle winner spot-on after his second over 2m 4f at Ascot.
NEXT BEST – CITY OF YORK STAKES – YORK, 15:00
Forget red-hot, this a white-hot renewal of the City Of York, with One Master out in front at the head of the betting.
The William Haggas-trained filly is a two-time Group 1 winner and looked better than ever at Glorious Goodwood last time out when justifying favouritism ahead of the gallant Valeria Messalina.
If she’s in the same sort of form on the Knavesmire, she could prove difficult to beat, although she may face challenges from the likes of Escobar and Threat.
The former ran extremely well to finish third behind subsequent Group winner Space Blues in the Lennox Stakes, and is also a course winner under York favourite Jamie Spencer, who takes the ride again here.
Meanwhile, Threat gained our support for the Hungerford last weekend before being scratched and is more than capable of running well at this level after going down twice in Group 1 company this term.
ONE TO WATCH – STRENSALL STAKES – YORK, 13:50
David O’Meara has won three of the last six editions of the Strensall Stakes and he appears to hold the ace card once again courtesy of 2019 Queen Anne winner Lord Glitters.
The seven-year-old hasn’t been seen in the winner’s enclosure since that 14/1 boil over last summer, but then he has been mixing it with the best of the best in Group 1 company.
His efforts this season have been good, with a fourth-placed finish behind subsequent Group 1 winner Mohaather representing a solid piece of form, while he finished third in a Group 2 over an extended trip last time.
He drops back to Group 3 company here for a race he won in 2018, and he should take all of the beating ahead of the likes of solid handicapper Dark Vision and Pogo for Charlie Hills.
SATURDAY 22nd AUGUST, ITV RACING SCHEDULE
13:50 York – Strensall Stakes (Group 3)
14:05 Sandown – Betway Handicap
14:25 York – Melrose Handicap
14:40 Sandown – Heed Your Hunch Handicap
15:00 York – City Of York Stakes (Group 2)
15:15 Sandown – 4 To Win Handicap
15:40 York – Ebor Handicap
15:55 Sandown – Fillies’ Handicap
16:10 York – Julia Graves Roses Stakes (Listed)
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication