Top level racing continues thick and fast next week as York’s Ebor Festival gets underway behind-closed doors.
There are four fantastic days to enjoy on the Knavesmire, culminating in the Ebor itself on Saturday 22nd August, which this year is worth £250,000 due to prize money cuts enforced by COVID-19.
Before that we also have the Juddmonte International, the Yorkshire Oaks and the Nunthorpe, as the brilliant Battaash bids to continue his season of all seasons in the 5f dash.
It’s all set up to be another magnificent week of equine entertainment, and we’ve previewed each of the main contests based on who we think will be turning up in them.
We still don’t know the full line-up for the Juddmonte, but what we do know is that Coronation Cup and Coral-Eclipse winner Ghaiyyath will definitely lock horns with 2,000 Guineas victor Kameko.
Even without anyone else, that should make for a fascination match-up given that the former has already given Enable a bloody nose this season and could also be en-route to the Arc.
For a long while Charlie Appleby’s inmate was considered something of a talking horse; this season he’s showing us his true credentials and rates as the obvious one to beat.
Rival Kameko has twice been hampered beyond a mile but has drawn comparisons with the late Roaring Lion who won this race in 2018, which bodes well for his chances.
Lord North proved his credentials with success in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, although this is tougher, while Palace Pier and Mishriif will be in the reckoning if they fail to take up engagements in France this weekend.
Day 2 – Yorkshire Oaks, 15:15
Love is all you need for the Yorkshire Oaks. That’s likely to be the view of most punters as Aidan O’Brien’s breath-taking Oaks winner begins her Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe preparation with a spin on the Knavesmire.
The Galileo filly has swept aside all before her as a three-year-old, and it can’t be under-estimated just how devastating her 9l victory at Epsom was last month, irrespective of the standard of her rivals.
It was so good in fact, that it even put the frighteners on the Queen of the turf herself, Enable, who will go to the September Stakes at Kempton rather than take on Enable before their showdown at Longchamp.
That should offer some indication, if it was ever in doubt (it wasn’t) that Love is the real deal. Barring any major catastrophes, she’ll take all the beating and leave herself spot on for a tilt at the Arc, where she’s 11/4.
Day 3 – The Nunthorpe, 15:15
The Nunthorpe is always one of our highlights of the season, let alone the week. And this year there’s even more cause for excitement as the brilliant Battaash bids to follow up his wins at Royal Ascot and Glorious Goodwood.
Charlie Hills’s speedball has long been regarded as the best sprinter on the planet, and this season he’s reached another level by finally winning the King’s Stand and then breaking his own course-record in the King George.
We reckon he’ll probably go off as the odds-on favourite as he attempts to win back-to-back renewals of the Nunthorpe, but this won’t be quite as easy as the two cantering exercises he’s enjoyed so far this term.
The highly-progressive Art Power completed a hat-trick at The Curragh last month and represents a serious threat for the in-form Tim Easterby, while A’Ali is reproducing the same excellent form he showed as a two-year-old.
Then there’s Oxted for Roger Teal, who won the Group 1 July Cup at Newmarket ahead of a whole host of big name rivals including Golden Horde and Hello Youmzain. Golden Pal cannot be discounted either for Wesley Ward.
Day 4 – The Ebor, 15:35
Earlier in the season, all the talk in the Ebor surrounded Goshen. Gary Moore’s star was the moral winner of the Triumph Hurdle, and the suggestion was that his natural pace would lend itself perfectly to a tilt at the Ebor.
The trainer was having none of it, however, and confirmed earlier this month that the four-year-old would not be seen on the Knavesmire, which leaves Fujaira Prince as the favourite following an injury to ante-post fav Hamish.
Roger Varian’s six-year-old is lightly-raced and has an excellent record in big handicaps, winning twice, including at Royal Ascot earlier in the season, and finishing in the frame twice too.
He’ll be there or thereabouts once again if entered, with Trueshan, Verdana Blue, First In Line and Northumberland Plate winner Caravan Of Hope among those rated 20/1 or shorter on our Sportsbook.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing