The 2018 renewal of the Sky Bet Ebor looked there for the taking by leading Irish Jumps trainer Willie Mullins who was responsible for the first and second favourites in long-time ante-post market leader Stratum ( heavily supported at 3-1 ) and 6-1 chance Whiskey Sour. The finish of the valuable 1m 6f handicap was indeed dominated by one stable in particular but it was the two contenders sent out by Newmarket handler John Gosden who took the race worth over 300,000 pound to the winner by the scruff of the neck.
With only 10lb covering all 20 runners it was a case of class rising to the top as top weight Weekender, the mount of the ever-popular Frankie Dettori, proving too good for all of his rivals with the exception of stablemate Muntahaa, a previous Group 3 winner who had to concede weight to all bar Weekender and the Marco Botti-trained Dylan Mouth. Jim Crowley’s mount, a well supported 11-1 chance, could be spotted travelling supremely well as Dettori sent Weekender for home approaching the last two furlongs but it was obvious a furlong later there was only going to be one winner.
The winning margin of three and a quarter lengths did not flatter the grey son of Dansili who may head down under later in the year for the Lexus Melbourne Cup ( with the 40-1 offered by bet365 looking very tempting ), a race yet to be conquered by a British-trained runner. Gosden has enjoyed a particularly successful Ebor Festival this year courtesy of Roaring Lion, Stradivarius, Lah Ti Da and now Muntahaa.
Speaking about tactics regarding the winner who was drawn in stall 21, Gosden said: “ I told Jim I had this Baldrick plan and that it might be a bit mad but I told him to stay out there on his own and then slot across. It worked perfectly. It was rather like he dropped in at the mile-and-a-quarter start. I think it made a big difference to the horse – but Frankie wasn’t pleased as he went past him! It wasn’t a wild idea in the end, it was a good one.”