It is all about the Yorkshire Ebor Festival this week really with some potentially decent races to be enjoyed on the Knavesmire over the four days. We are into top-drawer action from day one with the Juddmonte International Stakes the main event on Wednesday. They start the week on good ground with the weather forecast pretty dull but hopefully dry for the four days so we should have decent racing ground all week.
Best bets for the racing at York Wednesday 18th August
At 2.25 we have the 7f Group Three Tattersalls Acomb Stakes; only five runners but it looks a warm race. Dubawi Legend was visually impressive on debut at Doncaster but nothing has come out of that race and won so it appears he didn’t beat much. Noble Truth was beaten on debut, third to Lusail at HQ and that looks a fair race with the winner winning the G.2 July Stakes after. I tipped him next time at the July Festival at Newmarket when he won looking like a colt that could make it up to Group level; second, fifth and seventh from that race have all won since. He comes for this rather than the G.3 Solario Stakes at Sandown Saturday. I have the 5-2 that was about on Monday. His trainer Charlie Appleby said on the Godolphin website “Noble Truth progressed from his first start to win his maiden and has done well physically since. This will hopefully tell us the level we will be campaigning him at for the rest of the season.” Ehraz was the horse in second in that race at HQ and he will possibly be the one to chase home the selection again.
The main supporting race on the opening afternoon of the Ebor Festival is the Group Two 1m4f Sky Bet Great Voltigeur Stakes at 3.00, which traditionally acts as a trial for next month’s St Leger at Doncaster. Kemari became a live contender for the St Leger when winning the G.2 Queen's Vase (1m6f) at Ascot. Steps back down in trip here and has to give the opposition 3lb which may leave him vulnerable though there could of course be improvement to come yet after just three runs. A line through Wordsworth gives him the edge over the Ballydoyle runners and he is the pick at 5-2 in what is actually quite a tricky race. One-time Derby favourite High Definition, who ultimately skipped Epsom, was never involved in the Irish Derby last time beaten twenty-nine-lengths, and needs to rebuild his reputation now. I said after the G.2 Dante that he might have a better chance in the St. Leger at Doncaster the way he runs and that has to be the aim for the colt now. He will need to show something here or I am not sure where they could aim him. O'Brien did say in an interview with Racing UK this morning "He will be a horse to look forward to next year and we think he has the class to be a top middle-distance horse yet." Sir Lucan was staying on in the 1m4f G.3 Gordon Stakes at Goodwood, I think Dettori getting him going too late. He had won a Listed heat over 1m5f at Navan prior to that run. Cheek pieces have gone on for this first time and this colt looks the main hope for Ballydoyle with the big question mark about High Definition, I think the long run-in here could well suit.
At 3.35 we have the Group One 1m2½f Juddmonte International Stakes and it is a fascinating renewal. Sadly, St Marks Basilica will not run. Trainer Aidan O'Brien told the Racing Post on Monday morning: "St Mark's Basilica was doing his canter yesterday morning, he lost his front shoe and it caught the front of his near fore hind joint, his fetlock joint.” Love now runs for ‘the lads’, hardly a bad substitute, and she has to be considered. Mishriff, on paper, has the edge over Love on the King George form, but as I said before that race, I am still not convinced he is absolute top-drawer material. Alcohol Free takes a step into the unknown having her first go at the distance. Owner Jeff Smith said earlier this month "Based on the way she was going at the end of her races at Goodwood and Ascot, I really do think she can defy her pedigree. Those runs certainly give us every hope, plus she should get cover around the two bends at York.” She gets the weight allowances from the colts and the older horses and if she gets the trip, and I know it’s a big if, she will be bang there at the finish surely. When I put here in the Dirty Dozen for the season this race was not on mind as one I might be backing her in but that is what I have done at the 6-1. Oisin Murphy rides and he said this week “She came out of Goodwood really well. This is a completely different test – I have massive respect for Mishriff and Love, the Juddmonte International is often the highest-rated race in the world and this is a good renewal. I’m looking forward to it. I was fortunate to win it on a world champion three-year-old in Roaring Lion and it would be nice to win it again. We don’t know (about the trip), but what’s interesting is Arabian Queen ran in the Queen Mary at two and won a championship race over a mile and a quarter later in life. So it’s not impossible. The owner is a brilliant sportsman and I’m sure he’s very, very excited, as am I.”Be lucky