All eyes are on the Knavesmire up in Yorkshire for the next four days as the Sky Bet Ebor Festival gets underway on Wednesday. ITV racing will show five races each day with Racing TV covering the whole meeting. The weather looks set fine until the weekend at least and the going for day one is described as good-frim, good in places.
The stats suggest York favours horses that are ridden prominently, especially over 5f and 6f, and those drawn low also have an advantage historically so that is something to remember over the coming days.
Best bets for the racing at York Wednesday 23rd August
The 1m4f Group Two Sky Bet Great Voltigeur Stakes is due off at 3.00. This race is seen as an ideal stepping-stone to the last Classic of the season and it’s no surprise there are a few in here with an eye on the St Leger. You can’t really be anything but impressed with Gregory to date, the colt is three from three, and confirmed himself a major player for the St Leger next month when winning the 1m6f G.2 Queen's Vase at the Royal Meeting holding off Saint George in the final furlong. There may be more to come yet from the son of Golden Horn but he has to give 3lb to the field under the race conditions which gives Continuous and Castle Way some hope. Of the two the Godolphin owned colt looks the most likely to give the jolly a run for his money with a line through the colt Saint George. Castle Way made a winning seasonal debut in the Listed 1m2f Newmarket Stakes at HQ and then returned there to take the G.3 1m5f Bahrain Trophy Stakes last month; beating the odds-on shot Tower Of London with Saint George third. The team from Moulton paddocks have a small but select team aimed at the meeting and it’s always worth noting when they do that. His trainer Charlie Appleby said on the Godolphin website this week “Castle Way came out of the Bahrain Trophy in good order and it was always the plan to head to York afterwards. It’s a trappy race but we know Castle Way stays well and conditions look there to suit.” At the prices I have taken a chance at 4-1 this morning that the jolly may struggle back down in trip giving away weight.
The big race of the day, arguably the week, in the Group One 1m2f Juddmonte International Stakes at 3.35. Aidan O’Brien stated the race was the plan for Paddington a ten days ago and the colt promptly shortened in the market. The colt is seeking a fifth successive Group One victory having already landed the Irish 2,000 Guineas, St James’s Palace Stakes, Eclipse and Sussex Stakes this season. He proved he can get the 1m2f trip when taking the Eclipse holding off Emily Upjohn and he is clearly the best three-year-old on these shores and of course gets the weight from his older rivals here. Prince of Wales’s Stakes winner Mostahdaf is second in the market and is a very good horse on his day, has had the odd off day, and it is a big ask to give away 7lb to the three-year-old. He will need to be at his very best to take this I would suggest, and possibly also need Paddington to run below par. The three-year-old is odds-on and unbackable for me so it’s a race to watch and enjoy.