Author: Alan Kelly
Published: 12:15 23/07/2015
With an entry of 115 horses next month's Betfred Ebor at York may seem a lttle daunting in trying to spot the ante-post value for Europe's richest handicap but the £275,000 one mile six furlong contest has a safety limit of 20 which in effect will rule out the majority of the field, possibly those with a rating below 100, meaning that fancied contenders such as Bondi Beach, Clondaw Warrior and Aloft may struggle to make the final line-up.
Offering odds of 16-1 the field bookmakers are finding it almost impossible to find a market leader at this stage with the likes of Fields Of Athenry, Astronereous, Quick Jack and Ajman Bridge vying for early favouritism along with a host of other possibilities but at the 40-1 available with bet365, Betvictor and Stan James the layers' may have underestimated the chances of the Lady Cecil-trained Retirement Plan who was beaten a little over four lengths in last year's race behind Mutual Regard off a 3lb lower mark.
That creditable effort was just the seventh start for the son of Monsun who had previously ran out a comfortable winner of Ascot's Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Stayers ( Handicap ) and the well bred five-year-old ( daughter of the high-class mare Passage Of Time ) looks capable of showing further improvement this season for top owner Khalid Abdullah.
Following that fine effort on the Knavesmire Retirement Plan was sent to Doncaster for the Ladbrokes Mallard Stakes at the St Leger meeting and found only the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Stomachion too good when attempting to give Ryan Moore's mount 8lb. At number 25 in the current listings for York the horse looks guaranteed a run and despite the fact that Retirement Plan has yet to see a racecourse this season a repeat Ebor bid looks to have been the plan for some time and at a huge price is definitely worth an each-way interest.
Others that could prove to become leading contenders in a months time include Mark Johnston's impressive Royal Ascot winner Oriental Fox ( 20-1 Generally ), Willie Mullins' wide margin County Hurdle scorer Wicklow Brave ( 20-1 Betfred and Ladbrokes ) and the John Quinn-trained Great Hall ( 40-1 Betvictor and Ladbrokes ).
1 Point each-way Retirement Plan 40-1 (bet365, Betvictor and Stan James)