York Ebor Festival Preview Friday 22nd & Saturday 23rd August
Racing tipster Alan Kelly completes his preview of York’s Ebor festival with a look ahead to days 3 and 4 featuring the Group 1 Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes and Betfred Ebor
YORK’S EBOR FESTIVAL – DAY 3 FRIDAY 22nd AUGUST
1.55 Sky Bet Stakes – Handicap
2.30 Weatherbys Hamilton Insurance Lonsdale Cup – Group 2
3.05 Sky Bet City Of York Stakes – Listed
3.40 Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes – Group 1
4.20 Sky Bet Convivial Maiden Stakes
4.55 Nationwide Accident Repair Services Stakes – Handicap
Europe’s leading sprinters take centre stage on day 3 of York’s Ebor Festival courtesy of the Group 1 COOLMORE NUNTHORPE STAKES at 3.40. The five furlong speed test is worth £265,000 and is named after an area of York located to the north of the racecourse and was run in it’s present form for the first time in 1922 when won by Two Step. Between 1976 and 1989 under bookmaker patronage it was run as the William Hill Sprint Championship since when the original title has been reinstated although it has seen several sponsors, the latest being Coolmore Stud who have supported the event since 2007. Part of the British Champions Series the race been involved in the Breeders’ Cup Challenge since 2011 – the winner receiving an automatic invitation in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint in the same year. Unlike most Group 1 sprints the Nunthorpe is open to two-year-old’s and upwards and was won by a juvenile for the first time by High Treason in 1953, with the most recent being Lyric Fantasy in 1992 and Kingsgate Native in 2007. Tag End won the race three year’s running in it’s formative days between 1928 and 1930, a feat repeated by the Jeremy Tree-trained Sharpo in 1980-81-82.
37 Horses are currently entered for the 2014 renewal including four two-year-olds – Mind Of Madness, Anthem Alexander, Patience Alexander and the American winner Royal Ascot’s Windsor Castle Stakes Hootenanny, although none have yet been confirmed a definite runner. 2010 Winner Sole Power currently heads the ante-post market due to an impressive victory in Royal Ascot’s King’s Stand Stakes under new pilot Richard Hughes and is no bigger than 3-1 to win the race for a second time after failing by half a length when third behind shock winner Jwala and Shea Shea 12 month’s ago. The latter could bid to go one better this year but has not been seen since failing to give his running behind Edward Lynam’s charge at Ascot but would be overpriced at a general 10-1 if able to show his best later this month on the Knavesmire. The three-year-old Hot Streak looked a potential sprinting star after winning Haydock’s Temple Stakes but has been slightly disappointing since but it would be dangerous to write off Kevin Ryan’s charge ( 12-1 with Sky Bet ) just yet. The 1-2-3 in Goodwood’s King George Stakes are likely to renew rivalry once again with the winner Take Cover ( 16-1 Betvictor ) hoping to comfirm form with runner-up Extortionist ( 20-1 888.sport ) and Moviesta ( 25-1 Boylesports and Betfair Sportsbook ). Two-year-old Anthem Alexander is a possible runner and a best price 10-1 with Coral and Betvictor while other interesting entries are Music Master, Due Diligence and Undrafted.
DAY 4 SATURDAY 23rd August
2.05 Betfred Strensall Stakes – Group 3
2.40 Betfred Melrose Stakes – Handicap
3.15 Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Gimcrack Stakes – Group 2
3.50 Betfred Ebor
4.25 Julia Graves Roses Stakes – Listed
5.00 Betfred The Bonus King – Handicap
5.35 Qipco Future Stars Apprentice Stakes – Handicap
With prize money of £265,000 the BETFRED EBOR is the richest handicap run in Europe and one of the biggest betting races of the Flat racing season. Open to horses ages three years or older and run over one mile six furlongs the race is named after the shortened term for Eboracum, the Roman name for York, and was inaugurated in 1843 when it was known as the Great Ebor Handicap. 19th Century trainer Tom Dawson and jockey Lester Piggott both won the race a record five times and only one horse, Flint Jack in 1922/23, has managed to win the race twice. Between 1991 and 2001 the race was won by three-year-olds on six occasions but such is the competitive nature of the race these days that the Classic generation are finding it harder to make the final handicap. At present there are 103 entries for the 2014 renewal yet one has to go down to Andrew Balding’s runner Scotland at number 47 to find the highest-rated horse of that age group in the race. Six of the last ten winners were aged five, and with ten of the top twenty in the handicap as it now stands of that age group that trend could well continue again this year.
With a maximum field of 20 the 2014 renewal is almost certainly going to be a tightly-knit affair with well under a stone covering the entire field. Of the 103 current entries 34 are weighted between 9st and 9st 10lb and 58 covered by a stone. For that reason it is unlikely that several fancied horses will make the cut, one example being possible Irish challenger Quick Jack ( as short as 10-1 with Coral and William Hill ) who stands at number 84 in the pecking order. One horse who is guaranteed a run is 6-1 ( Betfred and Paddy Power ) favourite Pallasator who shot to the head of the market after Sir Mark Prescott’s gelding ran out an easy winner of Ascot’s Brown Jack Stakes last week. Next in the betting at a general 10-1 is the Luca Cumani-trained Havana Cooler who, although looking a far from straightforward ride, ran a good trial when finding only Van Percy too good at Glorious Goodwood, but handicapped to carry 8st 13lb the four-year-old is far from certain to make the final 20. Another horse set to carry that weight, Mighty Yar, is next best at 12-1 with a number of firms including Bet365, Stan James and Ladbrokes, the same price as Northumberland Plate winner Angel Gabriel who was far from disgraced taking on Group 2 company when fifth in last week’s Goodwood Cup. Clever Cookie, De Rigueur, Bold Sniper and Wadi Al Hattawi are other potential leading fancies but until the five-day declarations are known on Monday 11th August the final make-up of the race is difficult to predict.
Named after one of the most successful racehorses of the 18th century the Gimcrack Stakes, a Group 2 contest for two-year-old colts and geldings, was first run in 1846 and was at one time a leading guide to the following year’s 2000 Guineas but it’s popularity has been on the wane for some year’s now although multiple Group 1 winner Rock Of Gibraltar did win the race in 2001. Northern trainer Kevin Ryan has supplied the last two winners in Blaine and Astaire and is likely to be well represented again in 2014.
Of the 52 entries that currently stand for the £200,000 contest Kevin Ryan is responsible for eight in an effort to win the race for a third consecutive year, one more than Richard Hannon and four more than Tom Dascombe and Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien. The Wow Signal is the only entry from the John Quinn stable but if allowed to take his chance the Coventry Stakes winner would be a leading contender but at this stage the likely turn out is impossible to predict.