The Yorkshire Ebor Festival is up there with the very best meetings of the Flat racing season. York’s biggest fans believe it to be the very best and their argument is strengthened by the quality of the racing on the final day of the meeting, the best of which is being shown live by ITV Racing.
As well as big races such as the eponymous Ebor Handicap and the City of York Stakes, the ITV cameras will also be broadcasting four races from Sandown on a packed day of racing. Of course, you can’t go out to the course right now, so stay at home, tune in and hopefully we can all land some winners!
1:50 Sky Bet And Symphony Group Strensall Stakes
Lord Glitters to win – 3/1
The ITV Racing action gets off to a strong start with the Group 3 Strensall Stakes. Punters hoping for a good day on Saturday may well find that things begin nicely as Lord Glitters looks to be the right favourite for this 1m1f contest. David O’Meara’s seven-year-old is a former Group 1 winner and although that win in the 2019 Queen Anne Stakes looks like something of an outlier based on the rest of his form, he has run well enough in two starts this season to suggest he is capable of winning this sort of race.
Lord Glitters certainly improved from his first race in the Summer Mile Stakes when keeping on from the back of the pack to land third place in the Sky Bet York Stakes in July. He’ll like it if they go a good gallop to take the running out of some of his leading contenders so as to utilise his pace and is poised to return to the winner’s circle.
2:05 Betway Handicap
Tenbury Wells to win – 10/3
When Tenbury Wells made his first start at Wolverhampton just after Christmas he was very well backed. That support came thanks to his excellent pedigree and the fact that he cost $1.6 million as a yearling. His backers were left scratching their head after a poor first showing and anybody who supported him next time out could have been forgiven for feeling as though something was seriously amiss as he failed to fire again.
Thankfully, things have picked up impressively for the John Gosden-trained three-year-old who got off the mark at the third time of asking in a novice at Chelmsford at the start of July. He then got it right once again on his handicap debut and should be able to complete the hat-trick at Sandown. His mark of 82 was a serious underestimate of his abilities last time out and he should be much better than the rise of 5lb from the handicapper suggests.
2:25 Sky Bet Melrose Handicap
Dancing Approach each way – 25/1
The first couple of races shown on ITV on Saturday feature favourites who are very easy to back. The same is true in the Melrose Handicap where Favorite Moon is sure to get plenty of support at 10/3 for this 1m6f contest for three-year-olds. William Haggas’ gelding is a strong stayer just like his brother, Fun Mac, and should get the strong gallop that he craves at York.
Whilst the favourite has every chance of winning, there is a more tempting option further down the betting in the shape of Dancing Approach who is available at 25/1, a price we feel offers real value. Roger Charlton’s filly made a very pleasing turf debut in June before doubling up a couple of weeks later. She looked as though she was still well treated by her revised handicap mark when running well enough for third place at Goodwood three weeks ago. Things did not pan out for her that day but on a fairer course with an easier time of it in running, Dancing Approach could land a big win.
2:40 Heed Your Hunch At Betway Handicap
Marronnier each way – 12/1
After one run to blow away the cobwebs, Marronnier headed to Sandown in good shape for a competitive looking handicap last year and won despite not being among the market principles. There is every chance that Stuart Williams’ gelding can do likewise a little over a year later in the Heed Your Hunch At Betway Handicap.
Fourth place last time out was nothing to write home about but the four-year-old actually ran well given that was his first run for almost 300 days and he was carrying more weight than all but one of his competitors (and that horse was pulled up). He should be in much better shape for that run so it’s all systems go for another big run at Sandown at a very worthwhile each way price.
3:00 Sky Bet City Of York Stakes
Safe Voyage to win – 9/2
One Master is the bookies’ favourite for a typically strong looking renewal of the Group 2 City Of York Stakes as the action at York builds towards the day’s feature. Shorter priced winners have a very good recent record in the race with half of the last 10 renewals going the way of the favourite, joint favourite or co favourite. William Haggas’ six-year-old heads into the race on the back of a win at Glorious Goodwood but it’s one who missed out on a win in Sussex who makes most appeal with Safe Voyage available at 9/2.
John Quinn’s experienced gelding probably deserved more than the third place he ended up with in the Lennox Stakes. He probably wouldn’t have caught the winner, Space Blues, but had he not had the door shut on him multiple times then the would surely have at least pressed the leader harder. Given how poorly things panned out for him at Goodwood, it’s fair to say that Safe Voyage remains in good form and his chances will only improve if the rain in the forecast falls early in the afternoon.
3:15 Play 4 To Win At Betway Handicap
Zegalo to win – 8/1
Roger Varian holds high hopes about a number of horses in his yard. Some will compete at the top level while others will scrap away for the most valuable prizes their ability allows them to. Zegalo is in that latter category and has already paid his way with three third place finishes and win from his four starts as a three-year-old. That sole win came at Sandown and he has every chance of improving his record at the track in this 1m handicap, for which Zegalo is a generous and highly tempting 8/1 shot.
3:40 Sky Bet Ebor Handicap
Fujaira Prince to win – 7/1
With a prize fund of £250,000, the Ebor Handicap is one of the most valuable handicap prizes of the entire year. Each season there is a huge amount of competition for one of the 22 places in the race and even in this strangest of campaigns we have a full complement of runners for the 2020 renewal.
Punters love unearthing a value bet from the depths of the betting market for this 1m6f staying handicap. Before picking out the best each way options, the chances of the bookies’ favourite, Fujaira Prince should be highlighted. He justified his billing as the favourite in the Copper Horse Handicap at Ascot and although he’s been penalised 9lb for that win, Roger Varian’s six-year-old has every chance of delivering a repeat dose here at York where he has run well before.
For each way punters, the first place to turn is the 12/1 being offered about Verdana Blue. This versatile performer is capable of winning big, competitive races on the Flat and over hurdles so Nicky Henderson’s charge won’t be easy to shake off. The other horse to consider is Ghostwatch at 20/1 who is a winner over course and distance.
3:55 Betway Fillies’ Handicap
Gilt Edge to win – 10/1
The ITV Racing coverage at Sandown ends with a fairly modest looking fillies’ handicap. The field includes several who always give their best even if that best is not enough to win at a higher level than this.
Gilt Edge is one such reliable option who can build on some good recent performances and is running off the same mark at which she last won.
3:40 Julia Graves Roses Stakes
Mamba Wamba each way – 22/1
Can we end the day with a winner and a big one at that? We can if Mamba Wamba makes enough improvement to land this Listed, 5f contest. Adrian Nicholls’ two-year-old started her career by battling back from a poor start to claim second place on the all-weather at Newcastle. She then recovered from another poor start in the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot to plug on for a decent eighth place in a race that was beyond her capabilities at that time.
Her failure last time out when the 5/6 favourite at Thirsk when tried out over 6f for the first time was a disappointment but a strongly raced 5f race such as this on softening ground could be just what she needs to at least grab a place at 22/1. At that price she’s certainly worth chancing in a contest like this where there are doubts over all her rivals.