|Thursday 17th August 2017|
5 Horses to Watch for the Ebor Festival
A record £4.4 million total prize pot is up for grabs when one of the last major festivals of the flat season takes place in York on August 23-26. The Ebor Festival has been running since 1843 and is one of the true highlights in the flat calendar, attracting fans from across the UK and further afield. The centrepiece is the Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes, which comes with a prize pot of a cool £1 million, and it is supplement by such prestigious races as the Yorkshire Oaks, the Coolmore Nunthorpe, the Lowther and the City of York Stakes. Here we pick out five horses to watch out for in the festival:
Champion trainer Aiden O’Brien as has picked out this magnificent three-year-old bay colt as his main chance going into the festival. Churchill spent much of 2017 in imperious form, claiming victories in the 2,000 Guineas and then the Irish 2,000 Guineas in May to take his winning streak to seven. However, he was a disappointing fourth behind Barney Roy in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Ascot last time out, so there are question marks over his form and he is not the favourite for the Juddmonte. That honour goes to Barney Roy, who has since gone on to finish second to Ulysses in the Coral Eclipse. Ulysses also runs in the Juddmonte and is third favourite, while Churchill is second favourite at a decent price. But O’Brien can take heart from the 2,000 Guineas, where Churchill comfortably beat Barney Roy. When you check out horse racing spread betting markets it might be worth buying on Churchill to vanquish Barney Roy, Ulysses and the rest as he is a fabulous competitor and one for the big occasions.
Defoe has three wins from three races in 2017 and comes into the Great Voltiguer in great shape, seeming to get better with each run. He is down as sixth favourite at 12/1 in what is a colossal field, full of danger, but he has a great chance. This year he has beaten Time to Study, Century Dream, Appointed, Euro Nightmare and Frankuus, who have all since gone on to win races. The longer he runs the more comfortable he looks and he should enjoy the 1m 4f trip, making him a solid each-way shout.
The Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes is being billed as a showdown between superstars Lady Aurelia and Battaash, who are both priced low in what is seen as a two-horsed race. But horse racing invariably throws up a surprise and at least one of the many runners is likely to muscle their way into the picture given that it is Battaash’s first attempt at a Group 1 race and Lady Aurelia has had to cross the Atlantic for a second time this year. Marsha was third to Battaash in the King George at Goodwood last time out and finished third to Lady Aurelia in the King’s Stand Stakes earlier this year. She already has a win at York under her belt and has a habit of coming good in the second half of the season. The price on her looks attractive for an each-way shot and buying on her on the spread looks a sensible move.
Kevin Ryan has had a couple of winners in the Goffs Premier Yearling Stakes in recent years and returns with a strong showing in 2017. His two-year-old bay colt, Hey Jonesy, put in a fantastic performance to win the Sky Bet Advantage Novice Median Auction Stakes in July. He loves the course and he will relish the trip at the Ebor Festival, so looks a great option thanks to his pace.
The Ebor Festival started with the Ebor Handicap and that great race is still one of the highlights of the meeting. As ever, it has attracted an enormous field of runners and several stand out, from Seamour and Wildhacked to Kidmenever and Clever Cookie. But Star Storm really stands out due to odds of 33/1, making him a great each-way option after he placed in his last two races. He has shown signs of returning to his best and he has saved his greatest performances for trips of a mile and a half, so this is the perfect opportunity for him to make a name for himself.
Martin Green is an experienced sports writer and tipster. He has been covering horse racing for many years.