The Ebor Festival at York is one of the biggest meetings of the flat season in the UK, especially up north where the Yorkshire racecourse takes centre stage for the week with four days of high-class racing. Here is a look at what we have to look forward to at the 2017 renewal of the meeting.
Juddmonte International (August 23, 3.40pm)
The Juddmonte International is a Group One contest run over 1m2f and is open to three-year-olds and upwards. It is the richest race held at York each season and it usually attracts some of the best milers and middle-distance horses in Europe in what always proves to be a fascinating contest.
This year’s field is headed by the St James’s Palace Stakes winner Barney Roy who is having his second shot at this 10-furlong distance after coming very closing to scoring at in the Eclipse at Sandown earlier this month.
Barney Roy finished second behind Churchill in the opening Classic of the year – the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket. He did though beat Aidan O’Brien’s star miler at Royal Ascot. The colt was then expected to meet his rival in the Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood but, instead, connections opted to go up in trip and they were almost rewarded in a fantastic run against the older generation at Sandown where Ulysses just got the better of him by a nose. Richard Hannon’s runner is 3/1 in the betting to win the biggest prize of his career at York. If you are having a bet at the meeting, take a look at the Oddschecker racing tips page where you can find expert selections and also sign up offers which may be able to give you free bets across the week.
The field at York could include Barney Roy’s Sandown conqueror Ulysses who is bidding for his third success of the season already. Highland Reel, who won the 1m2f Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot, also has an entry and as long as he comes out of the King George VI Stakes ok later this month, he could also line up on the Knavesmire in what is shaping up to be the race of the season so far.
Yorkshire Oaks (August 24, 3.40pm)
Dual Classic winner Enable has been the star middle-distance three-year-old in 2017 after she claimed the Oaks at Epsom and then travelled across to the Curragh to score in the Irish equivalent of the race. Her next test is set to be the Yorkshire Oaks where she is odds-on at 1/2 to prevail once again in her division.
Enable went into the Oaks at 6/1 in the betting as all the talk was about Rhododendron from the Ballydoyle yard in Ireland. With Frankie Dettori in the saddle, John Gosden’s filly hit the lead with two furlongs to go at Epsom and quickly asserted control of the race where she was five lengths ahead of the rest of the field when crossing the line.
Rhododendron could return to action at York where O’Brien will be hoping she can win for the first time as a three-year-old. Last season’s Dubai Fillies’ Mile winner was expected to improve for a step up in trip; however, we may now see her at 1m2f for the rest of the campaign.
Queens’s Trust could provide the Oaks winner with her biggest test in the Yorkshire Oaks as Sir Michael Stoute’s runner has a lot of experience at the top level. She will be taking on her own sex again after she ran in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot where she came home a respectable fourth place behind Highland Reel, Decorated Knight, and Ulysses respectively. Her last victory came at the Breeders’ Cup meeting at Santa Anita last November in the fillies and mares race on turf. It will be interesting to see the two leading three-year-olds taking on Queen’s Trust who is a good marker for how good they are.
Nunthorpe Stakes (August 25, 3.40pm)
American sprinter Lady Aurelia blew her rivals away at Royal Ascot for the second straight year last month in the King’s Stand Stakes where she made all in the leading 5f contest at the meeting. Connections have already suggested she is likely to stay in the UK for the majority of the summer to tackle some of the biggest sprint races on the calendar, including the Nunthorpe Stakes at York.
The bookmakers have not made the same mistake that they did at the Royal meeting as they have made Lady Aurelia their odds-on favourite 4/5 to win this Group One sprint where, if she repeats her run at Ascot, she will be very difficult to beat.
The leading threat to Lady Aurelia’s chances at York looks to be with Battaash who is a three-year-old who is improving which each run this season. He won a nice Listed race at Sandown last month where he did well to make up from a slow start while, on his latest run at the Esher-track, he produced a career best to land a Group Three over 5f. If he is to topple the American sprinting Queen though, he is going to need to improve again in the Nunthorpe.
All the action from this year’s Ebor meeting will be live on ITV Racing who will be screening pictures from the meeting as part of their broadcasting deal in the UK which they began earlier this year.