One of the highlights of the racing York’s Ebor meeting is also one of the highlights of the flat season and those making the visit to the Knavesmire this week will have a brilliant four days to look forward to.
The 2023 Ebor Festival
Wednesday 23rd August – Saturday 26th August
Live on ITV 1 HD from 1.30pm and Racing TV from 1.00pm
Small fields have been the talk of the first day’s feature races, but the quality on offer cannot be denied and we should still have an enjoyable afternoon’s action.
Ground: The majority of the course, including the five furlongs of the home straight, is good to firm, and there’s good in places from the seven-furlong chute, and the six furlongs down the back straight. With no rain forecast the ground should be quick until Friday at the least.
All eyes are on the Juddmonte (3.35), which has the smallest field of the day but also the highest quality one with four-time Group 1 winner Paddington facing Prince of Wales’s Stakes winner Mostahdaf, three time Group 1 winner Nashwa and Derby fifth The Foxes, who’s unlucky not to be a Group 1 winner himself.
The small field here definitely plays into the hands of favourite Paddington (and Nashwa, to some extent) with a premium likely to be on speed, and it’s not hard to see him being quickest in a dash. However, for all he sets a high standard, Mostahdaf is capable of pushing him closer than the odds suggest now connections have found his ideal circumstances.
We have seen those work to major effect twice this season, the first when demolishing a decent field in the Neom Cup at Riyadh, and the next when taking apart a very strong field in the Prince Of Wales’s at Royal Ascot, when he had the high class Luxembourg, Adayar, My Prospero and Bay Bridge trailing in his wake.
That was his sixth win after a break of 45 days or more (63 days since Royal Ascot), and he bounced off quick ground – which he should get here – for both those wide margin wins, so conditions ought to be ideal, and his Ascot win makes him the top rated by 3lbs. Obviously Paddington gets a hefty weight for age allowance here (7lbs) but he will need a new personal best in form terms if we see a peak form Mostahdaf and 9/4 with starsports.bet could underrate his chances of ending Paddington’s winning run. A slow pace would be a worry, but Frankie Dettori could well be able to set his own pace out in front and he can throw down a big challenge.
Nashwa is respected although a slowly run 1m2f didn’t appear to suit in the Nassau and The Foxes has a few pounds to find on all evidence.
Rest Of Card
The Acomb Stakes (2.25) is often one of the better juvenile contests to follow during the year and this year’s renewal could go to Ballymount Boy. One’s taking a chance on the ground here – it’ll be the quickest he’s faced by some distance – but if he handles it then he’d have a big chance based on his second in the Richmond Stakes behind Prix Morny winner Vandeek. He looked ready for an extra furlong there, and the step up in trip today will suit. With Ballydoyle juveniles carrying all before them, Edwardian will be of interest and needs respect but Cogitate and Loose Cannon made a good impression when winning first time out and could be the main threats, although the whole field need respect.
There’s another small field for the Great Voltigeur Stakes (3.00) where Gregory is a worthy favourite after his battling win in the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot. The Gosdens’ charge will take some beating here, but this is a decent renewal at face value and Continuous can serve up a decent challenge for Ballydoyle.
One of the most promising juveniles they had last season, he ran a fantastic race when third in the Dante on his return and whilst he disappointed in the Prix du Jockey Club, his second in the King Edward to King of Steel (since third in the King George; had Artistic Star behind) at Royal Ascot was an excellent effort and if he repeats that form here then he’s got every chance, especially getting 3lbs from the favourite who drops back in trip.
Castle Way took the Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket when getting a fine tactical ride from William Buick and dropping back in trip a furlong will only boost his chances. He’s a major threat, especially off a slow pace.
In the opening sprint handicap (1.50) class dropper Equilateral was off interest off a mark of 105 although the nature of this course might not suit him as much as elsewhere. Favourites Intrinsic Bond and JM Jungle will take plenty of passing in a typically difficult opener to the meeting.
Aztec Empire made most appeal in the last race on ITV (4.10), although the presence of Irish raiders Grappa Nonino (Saffie Osborne rides for Dermot Weld), Zanndabad (Ryan Moore for Tony Martin), and Tronador (Joe Fanning rides for Gordon Elliott) is worth noting. Robert Johnson won here on John Smith’s Cup Day and now arrives having just been caught in the last stages at Goodwood.
Designer makes the most appeal in the Fillies Sprint Heritage Handicap (4.45) if backing up her fine run at Goodwood, whilst Starlust would have a cracking chance in the closing Nursery (5.20) if she’s able to back up her Glorious Goodwood second on faster ground.
BACK Ballymount Boy 1 pt win in 2.25 York at 9/4 (⭐
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BACK Continuous 1 pt win in 3.00 York at 9/4 (⭐
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BACK Mostahdaf 1 pt win in 3.35 York at 9/4 (⭐
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PROFIT/LOSS (AUGUST 2023): LOSS -10.27 points