Sky Bet Ebor Handicap 1mile 6 furlongs York Saturday

york eborFirst run in 1843, with the exception of the war years, 1914-18 and 1940-42, it has been run continuously on York’s historic Knavesmire. It was abandoned in 2008 due to a waterlogged track, but a substitute race was run at Newbury. It is Europe’s richest Handicap, and this year carries a prize fund of £1000,000, with £600,000 going to the lucky winner. With prize money of this order on offer, and 22 closely handicapped horses in contention, it is, unsurprisingly, a difficult heat to predict, and only a single
“Jolly” has obliged in the last 20 years. Long priced winners are certainly not a rarity and a 100/1 shot won 13 years ago. The 1958 winner of The Ascot Gold Cup, the great mare Gladness, won the Ebor for the legendary Vincent O’Brien in the same year, and remained the sole Irish trained winner of the race, until Willie Mullins ended the drought in 2009. The flood gates haven’t exactly opened for raiders from across The Irish Sea, but they have won a further 3 times in the last 9 years, and one that catches the eye from that quarter is the Ger Lyons trained Mustajeer.

The 6yo son of Medicean ran well in last year’s renewal where he finished 4th, 5 1/4L behind the winner. Held up in the rear from his wide draw by pilot Gary Carroll, he was left with too much to do but kept on well under pressure in the final furlong. He only raced once more last season, winning a Naas Listed race with consumate ease in November. His 4 runs this term have all been in Group races, and he acquitted himself well last time, finishing 3L 5th in a Curragh Group2 8 weeks ago. He was only a head behind the 113 rated favourite, Southern France and a strict interpretation of that result would suggest that Saturday’s mark of 108 looks very fair. The Lyons yard is going great guns at present, and with Ireland’s Champion Jockey, Colin Keane doing the steering he has plenty to recommend him.

the knavesmire

York’s historic Knavesmire

The Roger Charlton trained 6yo Withhold has won 5 of his 13 starts and considering it was his first run for 269 days, ran a particularly fine race last time making all in Newbury’s Marsh Cup with the steadier of 9-10 on his back,(2m1/2f Gd-Sft). A similar front running performance saw him land last year’s Northumberland Plate in stylish fashion. He is 6lbs higher than last time, and the drop back in trip is a concern, but his relentless galloping style should serve him well and if he gets to the front could be difficult to peg back.

With a win, a second, and a third, from his three course appearances, there can be little doubt that the William Haggas trained Raheen House feels at home on
The Knavesmire. He was only having his second start for the yard when beaten a neck, finishing 3rd, in a group 3 over course and distance 6 weeks ago. He is making his handicap debut on Saturday, off a mark of 111, which seems high enough, but he does meet Saturday’s opponent, Weekender, with whom he virtually dead heated, (got the race in a subsequent inquiry) In an Ascot Listed race 22 months ago on 5 lbs better terms. He didn’t seem to have much left in the locker last time, and there has to be some doubt about his ability to last 14f in a race like The Ebor, but there are some positives from his pedigree as his full brother, Shraaoh, won the 2mile Group1 Sydney Cup at Randwick in April.

Since joining the Mark Johnston operation last February, the ex German/French 5yo, Kings Advice, has won an amazing 8 of his 9 starts, and is now rated 42lbs higher than for his first run for the Middleham yard, at the beginning of March. Last time out he again showed real battling qualities, to get the better of the useful Outbox in a driving finish to Goodwood’s Summer Handicap off a mark of 108. Kings Advice is 5lbs higher on Saturday, but the son of Frankel doesn’t seem to know when he’s beaten, and it won’t come as a great surprise if he lands Mark a second Ebor, to go with Quick Ransom’s win 27 years ago.

Mind you Mark’s second string, Baghdad, is no back number either. Another son of Frankel, he has responded well to the Johnston tutelage, winning 5 of his 10 starts since joining the Middleham Academy, and improving from an initial mark of 74 to 109. He held on bravely at Royal Ascot to land the 12f Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes by a short head from Saturday’s opponent, the fast finishing Ben Vrackie, (has disappointed since). Baghdad has run moderately in his last two races both over 12f and there has to be some doubt about his ability to stay Saturday’s trip but that said, Frankels do stay well, and he has an entry in the Irish St Leger.

John GosdenThe regally bred, Royal Line, (by Dubawi out of a daughter of the fabulous Urban Sea) has yet to live up to his regal pedigree, but did look a talented individual when winning Doncaster’s November Handicap last Autumn off a mark of 105. He gave the impression that there could be more to come over further, and having had a nice pipe opener over an inadequate 10f at the beginning of July, Mr Gosden (pictured) can seriously contemplate the prospect of becoming the first handler in the modern era to train back to back winners of The Ebor, (won last year with Muntahaa).

Selection : Royal Line

EW.          :  Mustajeer
John Gray

Ebor Handicap Betting Tips 1m6f York Saturday

Aidan O'Brien

Aidan O’Brien provides the favourite for this year’s renewal with his 3yo Galileo colt Fields Of Athenry, and judging by his last two runs deserves his position as market leader.

Neither of our selections in last week’s Gp2 Hungerford Stakes got a run in a contest that cut up badly due to ground conditions. As the race was won in a time only four seconds slower than standard the going can’t have been that bad, so perhaps some were over hasty in withdrawing their runners. Having said that the winner, Adday, won in taking fashion, and may well progress to win at the top level. Hopefully there won’t be any dramatic changes to the York surface resulting in a similar mass withdrawal from Saturday’s feature, The Ebor Handicap.

Aidan O’Brien provides the favourite for this year’s renewal with his 3yo Galileo colt Fields Of Athenry, and judging by his last two runs deserves his position as market leader. He didn’t make his racecourse debut until last October, where he finished seventh in a seven furlong Cork maiden. He reappeared on the all weather at Dundalk in May and duly won an 11f maiden easily. Given a rating of 99 and conceding 22lbs to the winner he was beaten 1L in a valuable Down Royal handicap over 1m4f. He started joint favourite for a 1m6f listed race at Leopardstown four weeks later and won impressively, beating the useful Dermot Weld trained filly, and joint favourite, Silwana by ten lengths. Dropped back to 1m4f for a Gp3 three weeks later, he put another useful Weld inmate, the progressive Edelpour to the sword. Three year olds don’t figure in recent renewals of this great handicap, being unexposed they fail to get sufficient weight to qualify, but it is worth noting that O’Brien is the one trainer to have bucked this trend. He handled the last three year old winner, Mediterranean, in 2001,and went close with Changingoftheguard, (2009) the last of the classic generation to get a run in the race. Fields Of Athenry looks a highly progressive animal who will be particularly well suited by Saturday’s trip, and despite his burden of 9st7lbs is short listed.

Tony Martins 6yo gelding Quick Jack showed plenty of pace when winning The Galway Hurdle three weeks ago, and will be well served by, what is likely to be a strongly run race, here on the Knavesmire. He was beaten only 3/4L by the subsequent Ascot Gold Cup winner, Trip to Paris, to whom he was conceding 6lbs, in this year’s Chester Cup. As he went down by a similar distance in last year’s Caesarawich it may be that he has not been quite getting home over these extreme distances and could be suited by Saturday’s trip. A slight reservation would be the poor record of horses older than five but coming from this yard it would be no surprise to see him involved at the business end.

Amanda Perrett, who won with Give The Slip in 2000, and whose father, Guy Harwood won it twice in the eighty’s, fields a likely type in the 4yo Sea The Stars colt, Astronereus. He ran two fine races over 1m4f this year at Newmarket and Royal Ascot, but it was his performance over course and distance in July that really catches the eye. Racing off a mark of 102 he was headed inside the final furlong, but digging deep, he was actually going away at the finish. Last time at Goodwood, (1m6f) a course that doesn’t suit him, he finished a very satisfactory third, beaten a couple of necks, again finding plenty at the finish of a mark of 107. This thoroughly genuine horse would be a most deserving winner if managing to defy the same mark at the weekend, and is another for the shortlist.

Hughie Morrison’s 4yo gelding, Fun Mac has been given an easy time of it since his gallant defeat by Clondaw Warrior at Royal Ascot. He was outstayed by the Mullins horse over the extreme 2 1/2 mile trip going down by 1/2L, and is now 4lbs better off. As Clondaw Warrior went on to collect a valuable 1m4f at Galway off a 7lbs higher mark the form looks good, so expect a top showing from the Morrison horse, who will be well suited by Saturday’s trip.

Luca Cummani’s 5yo Dubawi gelding, Ajman ran well on his first attempt at the trip when finishing a nose behind Astronereus in the Goodwood race. Despite not getting the run of the race he was staying on well at the finish. As he meets the Perrett horse on similar terms on the Knavesmire we can expect it to be close between them, but perhaps Astronereus’ course form may prove decisive.

Selection: Fields Of Athenry

EW: Astronereus