York Ebor Festival Preview - Day 4
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York Ebor Festival Preview - Day 4

It's the fourth and final afternoon of action from York on Saturday and, of course, the headline act is the Ebor Handicap itself at 3.35pm - one of Europe's most treasured and valuable Flat handicaps. The Strensall Stakes and City Of York Stakes are amongst the supporting acts, with racing at York from 1.50pm-5.20pm on Saturday, and the Racing Post previews all the Knavesmire action.


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1.50pm - Sky Bet And Symphony Group Strensall Stakes (Group 3, 1m1f)

Mighty Ulysses looks the likeliest winner here for the Gosdens and Frankie Dettori. He's on the up this season and still has only six races under his belt (three wins) scoring last month with an all-the-way performance at Newmarket over a mile in Listed company - with today's rival Alflaila back in second spot. Owen Burrows' charge has since won in Listed grade at Pontefract.

Prior to that, Mighty Ulysses ran a blinder in the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot and this extra furlong should be within his range.

The aforementioned Alflaila clearly is a danger, while Cadillac can have a say too, though both Listed races at Royal Ascot and Newbury appeared more winnable since he joined Kevin Philippart De Foy. He drops back in trip here.

If there's to be an upset, perhaps BASHKIROVA can provide it for William Haggas and Tom Marquand. The Pivotal filly was on the up when she won the Group 3 Princess Elizabeth Stakes at Epsom in June and perhaps her run at Royal Ascot in Group 2 company a mere 11 days later caught her out.

That Duke Of Cambridge Stakes was a warm race - the winner won a Group 1 next time in France and the second routed Listed rivals at Pontefract - and it's fair to say Bashkirova never really looked at ease in the contest. She did, though, plug on late and after a short break could have more to give over this extra distance.

Selection: Bashkirova

Next Best: Mighty Ulysses

 

2.25pm - Sky Bet Melrose Handicap (Heritage Handicap, 1m6f)

It seems William Haggas has a contender everywhere we look this week. Soulcombe has improved since moving into handicaps this summer - winning at Haydock and Ascot - and he was an eyecatcher at Glorious Goodwood on his most recent start. He was in the rear and outpaced at one stage, before coming home strongly for a close fourth. He goes up in trip here, with Hollie Doyle on for the first time, and looks a key player in first-time tongue-tie in a tight Melrose Handicap.

Inverness was a place in front of him that afternoon, he travelled well into the race and perhaps couldn't pick up as expected dropped in trip there, so he's one to keep close tabs on back up in distance now.

Adjuvant, meanwhile, was behind the pair that afternoon but isn't crossed off at chunky odds here upped in distance with Callum Hutchinson's 5lb claim in his favour.

Charlie Appleby's pair, Wild Crusade (top-weight) and Al Nafir (handicap debut), are much respected, with the former's Glorious Goodwood win boosted since by the second but AIMERIC might snare this for Roger Varian.

The Frankel colt came good in a Chester maiden (1m4½f, good) last month on his third start, seeing out the trip well under a patient ride, and while the handicapper hasn't exactly missed him (92), there should be further progress to come.

Selection: Aimeric

Next Best: Inverness

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3.00pm - Sky Bet City Of York Stakes (Group 2, 7f)

Sandrine bagged a first win of the season when edging out Kinross in the Lennox at Goodwood last month over this trip, last year's Lowther second and her beaten rival can both be expected to figure here.

Sacred represents that man Haggas and was behind the pair at Goodwood to the tune of a length-and-a-half. She was second in the 2020 Lowther here on her only previous visit and remains a very solid performer.

Pogo was in amongst them at Goodwood too, another improved showing from Charlie Hills' runner, but he'll need to quickly banish memories of a fading effort in the Hungerford Stakes at Newbury last Saturday if he's to have a major say here.

That race was won by Jumby, with Eve Johnston-Houghton's charge entitled to go well again if this rapid turnaround isn't a problem.

ART POWER has been off since running fourth in the Champion Sprint Stakes at Ascot in the autumn. Tim Easterby's charge is a dual Group 3-winning 6f star and will have his first attempt at this new trip here. He has won first-time-out before and, now aged five, he could be very interesting here at a decent price as connections look to stretch him out.

Selection: Art Power

Next Best: Sandrine

 

3.35pm - Sky Bet Ebor Handicap (Heritage Handicap, 1m6f)

The centrepiece of the four days in York, the Ebor carries a top prize of £300,000 and remains as one of the most sought-after Flat handicaps in Europe.

A field of 24 have been declared and they are headed by top-weight Get Shirty for David O'Meara. He backed up his Copper Horse win at Royal Ascot by taking the Old Newton Cup at Haydock last month and, 5lb higher, he cannot be dismissed totally but being drawn into stall 24 under his big burden is no help.

Euchen Glen is nine now, but is rated a stone lower than last year and back on the mark from which he was a good fifth in 2020. He was a length third behind Trawlerman at Goodwood last month as the Gosden inmate won the Summer Handicap over this trip. Allowing for claims, Euchen Glen is 14lb better off today.

The market is headed by Irish raider Earl Of Tyrone for Paddy Twomey. He has won his last three, backing up his Curragh win at this distance with a Listed victory at Limerick in June over slightly shorter. This has been the target ever since and a mark of 103 looks fair as the Irish look to continue a strong recent Ebor record.

Equally promising is Gaassee for William Haggas, winner of four from six so far and possibly unlucky when third behind Get Shirty at Haydock last time.

Ger Lyons won this in 2019 and he has a good contender again in LICENSE now in the Juddmonte silks. He's 0-3 this season but has been plying his trade in very strong races over in Ireland. He kept on encouragingly at Leopardstown in the Group 3 Ballyroan Stakes recently and could have plenty more to come upped in trip now making his move into handicaps. The unexposed Frankel colt is worth a shot.

Selection: License

Next Best: Gaassee

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4.10pm - Sky Bet Constantine Handicap (Heritage Handicap, 6f)

From the stayers to the sprinters. Mums Tipple never quite managed to deliver on the enormous promise of his 2YO demolition job here in 2019. He did win a Listed race on the Tapeta at Wolverhampton over 7f last spring, but flattered to deceive a bit over the summer.

This season was following a similar pattern but a recent return to this 6f trip at Newmarket yielded a three-length win under Frankie Dettori and the Italian stays on board now. He's gone back up 6lb but is still on a good mark relative to his best form.

Summerghand is never overlooked in these big-field sprint handicaps and should give a solid account, while Spangled Mac saw his winning sequence end when second at Ascot a fortnight ago, but George Boughey's 3YO essentially took another step forward in defeat and has to be a player again with William Buick on board.

Bottom of the racecard is ALEEZDANCER, carrying 8st 7lb, and Kevin Ryan's last-time-out Ripon winner is a contender. The drop back to this distance aided him there and three of four career wins have now come at this 6f trip. He's still relatively low-miles and a 4lb rise could be tolerable in this tougher race.

Selection: Aleezdancer

Next Best: Spangled Mac

 

4.45pm - Julia Graves Roses Stakes (Listed, 5f)

Rocket Rodney is proving very consistent for George Scott with figures of 21212 so far, backing up his Sandown Listed win by chasing home Trillium in the Molecomb Stakes at Glorious Goodwood. He sets the standard, but has to concede 3lb all round.

Irish raider Treasure Trove has good form but is more exposed than a few of these and ran just last weekend. Similar sentiments for the experienced Rousing Encore, though Richard Fahey's colt will possibly welcome a drop back to 5f.

Bolt Action ran a pleasing race in a Goodwood nursery last month under top-weight, finishing third of 16 and has possibilities back down to 5f but preference is for BRAVE NATION.

Michael Bell's colt made a bright start with his easy win at Doncaster in April and he stepped up on that when fourth in a messy Norfolk Stakes at Ascot in June (suffered interference). He didn't appear to see out the longer trip since in the July Stakes at Newmarket and this could be optimal for him right now.

Selection: Brave Nation

Next Best: Bolt Action

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5.20pm - Sky Bet Finale Handicap (1m2)

Perhaps Frankie Dettori can step up and land the York finale on SPECIAL ENVOY in the Juddmonte silks for John & Thady Gosden. The Frankel colt has two wins in four starts so far and certainly wasn't pushed to the pin of his collar when landing a slowly run Windsor contest over 1m3½f in last month's handicap bow. A drop back in trip should be offset by a more searching gallop now and he looks to have plenty of scope for improvement.

Injazati has been off since April but is another deemed capable of better things for Charlie Fellowes, while recent C&D winner Spirit Dancer should throw his hat in the ring alongside the likes of possible front-runner Forest Falcon and another lightly-raced one, Phantom Flight, for James Horton.

Selection: Special Envoy

Next Best: Spirit Dancer

 

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