The final day of the York Ebor Festival is the main draw for this week’s ITV Racing coverage. The fourth day of the meeting features some very good action, headlined by the Ebor Handicap itself, the race that gives the meeting its name.
Elsewhere, a couple of Group 3 races at Sandown provide a very good support act to the action from the Knavesmire. It promises to be an entertaining day and has the potential to be a profitable one with some very good value to be found in this week’s Saturday Racing Tips. Six races and, we hope, six winners!
1:50 Sky Bet And Symphony Group Strensall Stakes
Group 3, 1m1f
When Real World won the Royal Hunt Cup against 29 opponents on his turf debut at the massive price of 28/1 it had the whiff of fluke about it. That whiff was completely blown away next time out when Saeed bin Suroor’s four-year-old won the Listed bet365 Stakes at Newbury. That performance was better than you’d expect for a Listed horse and connections are very excited about the future.
Like the big winner of the opening day of the Ebor Festival, Mishriff, Real World handles dirt and will be targeted at some big races around the world in the next couple of years. He’s not at Mishriff’s level but he should prove too good for the competition in the Strensall Stakes. It’s proven difficult to beat horses who get out in front so far this week at York so Real World’s keenness will be a benefit rather than a drawback over this 1m1f trip. In our eyes that helps make him very much the right favourite and at 5/4 he is decent value here.
2:05 Betway Solario Stakes
Group 3, 7f
The Solario Stakes has been a good race for favourite backers to farm in recent years. Each of the last five renewals have gone the way of the market leader and that trend can continue on Saturday with Reach For The Moon remaining strong in the betting. After a good performance on debut he was then beaten only by Point Lonsdale – one of the brightest two-year-old prospects around – in a Listed race at Ascot.
Reach For The Moon, who is owned by the Queen, lost his maiden tag last time out as readily as you would expect of such a talented horse sent off as the 2/9 favourite for a Class 4 race. The Solario Stakes is clearly a big step up in class from that. However, it would take a big improvement from the likes of Austrian Theory and Great Max to stop Reach For The Moon winning at odds-on once again. His price of 4/6 is short enough but this is a horse who looks as though he is going places and Reach For The Moon will be many people’s idea of a good thing on Saturday.
2:25 Sky Bet Melrose Handicap
Class 2, 1m6f
Winning from the front will be much more difficult in the Melrose Handicap than in the first ITV Racing contest from York. Races over this staying trip of 1m6f tend to go to those who travel off the pace and are produced at the right time to win. That said, it makes sense to have a couple of options for this competitive handicap and if you are looking for a front runner then Golden Flame is tempting at 20/1. His draw should allow Adam Kirby to send Golden Flame to the front early on and if he is allowed to control the pace then he has every chance of holding on for a place and possibly a very, very profitable win.
Dhushan better fits the profile of a Melrose Handicap winner. He has not been missed by the market but is the right favourite at 7/1. He’ll get the stronger pace that he was desperate for when narrowly missing out in his bid for a hat-trick last time out and is sure to come on strong in the final furlong. Whether he can do enough to win rests largely on how lucky he is in terms of traffic in running. Add to that the fact that many bookies paying four places, the each way play on Golden Flame is the more appealing option.
2:40 Betway Atalanta Stakes
Group 3, 1m
ITV Racing’s second and final trip to Sandown takes in a wide open looking renewal of the Atalanta Stakes. Indigo Girl is the pick at the weights and the odds but her first run of the season last month was very disappointing. It’s now for her to prove that she has trained on from some good displays as a two-year-old but at a general price of 11/4 it would take some faith to part with your money finding out.
Saffron Beach is another horse who performed well as a juvenile but who has tailed off. She looked a long way from the horse who finished second in the 1,000 Guineas when flopping in the Falmouth Stakes and although this is a drop down in grade she’s another who has plenty of questions to answer. Too many questions in our view.
In such an open renewal, the price of last year’s winner Maamora catches the eye at 13/2. Like most of those ahead of her, the five-year-old’s form has been disappointing this season but she’s had excuses including a poor scope at Goodwood and then an unsuitably undulating track at Epsom. The return to a course where she has run before could well bring out the best of Maamora which would be enough to win this.
3:00 Sky Bet City Of York Stakes
Group 2, 7f
Racing fans are used to hearing trainers and jockeys come up with excuses when their horses run poorly. It is important from a punting perspective to work out when those excuses are valid and you’d have to say that Ed Walker is within his rights to claim that Primo Bacio has been unlucky lately. The trainer thinks an awful lot of the three-year-old filly and is talking up her as a potential Group 1 horse in the coming year or two.
Connections agree as they have supplemented her for the City Of York Stakes. After she encountered traffic in both the Falmouth Stakes and Prix Rothschild in her last two outings, Primo Bacio is due a bit of good luck. Space Blues is a worthy opponent but the younger horse gets weight for age and sex allowances and can take advantage at the nice prie of 5/2.
3:35 Sky Bet Ebor Handicap
Class 2, 1m6f
The Ebor Handicap is the feature race of the whole four day festival at York and one of the biggest betting races of the year. What it lacks in class compared to some of the Ebor’s other highlights, it more than makes up for in excitement – not to mention prize money. As ever, a full field of 22 are set to do battle over the staying trip of 1m6f and it takes a very big performance to win.
There has been just one winning favourite of the Ebor in the last decade. That horse, Fujaira Prince, is back in the field to defend his title one year on. That he has taken up his entry is interesting in itself as Roger Varian said he would assess the strength of the competition at York before deciding whether to run him in the Ebor or in a Group level race. That’s the quality of this seven-year-old but the flip side is that he has to carry 6lb more compared to last year.
The other main challenge for the front running Fujaira Prince is that he has to try and win from a wide draw. That is a big ask but he is a very good horse – second only to Euchen Glen in the ratings – and he has a very big heart. If he is still out near the front in the closing stages, Fujaira Prince could prove to be difficult to pass and he can hang on for at least a place at the very tidy odds of 12/1.