Every year the York Ebor meeting grows in stature and despite the inevitable drop in prize money this time around, the quality this week is out of the top drawer again with the Juddmonte International Stakes the opening day feature.
Having beaten Enable in the Eclipse Stakes in early July, connections of Ghaiyyath decided to swerve a rematch with the brilliant mare at Ascot in order to come here a fresh horse, and nothing less than victory will do. With the long straight likely to suit the front-runner, I expect William Buick to get the favourite rolling some way from home and take the Group 1 though with the cramped odds, there are better looking bets on the card.
The Sky Bet and Symphony Group Sprint which opens proceedings at 1-45 is a fiendishly difficult handicap with 22 runners, not made any easier with the weather forecast seemingly confusing matters. The ground is currently good, but there are varying amounts of rain expected tomorrow, depending on what your preferred weather site is.
Hopefully, there will be not enough to soften the ground as LAHORE is the first of the recommended bets to give local trainer Phillip Makin his first winner at the festival. He landed a similar contest here on his penultimate start when he had his perfect scenario, namely a lightning fast pace at the minimum trip. On that occasion he had stacks of pace to aim at and it looks as though he has struck lucky in that department as well this time, with the likes of Justanotherbottle, Leodis Dream and Acclaim The Nation regular burn-up merchants, all berthed low, like the selection.
Jawwaal has to be feared as he has so much more to come at this distance, the only negative is the fact that the Ascot race he bolted up in last month could be another example of a “draw” race up the Berkshire straight this summer. Magic J is another who has to be on the short list as he will get the fast pace he needs, unlike last time at Ascot, though the juicy 14’s has not surprisingly disappeared. But if he gets the breaks when needed, Lahore can hopefully het us off to a winning start.
The Sky Bet Great Voltigeur Stakes at 2-45 sees the first 3 from the Gordon Stakes at Goodwood renew rivalry with Mogul taken to confirm the form as he looks the typical Aidan O’Brien improver. However, the Newmarket trained pair, Darain and ROBERTO ESCOBARR, add something different to the mix, and it is the latter who could be the joker in the pack.
Rated just 90, he would be a good thing for any Handicap, but William Haggas has decided to go down the Group 2 route, and the manner of his win in a Novice event here last month makes him of interest. That was a red-hot contest of its kind but the manner, and time of his victory suggested he is worth the quick elevation into this company and he looks worthy of support to justify the bold decision of connections.
For the final bet on day 1, we got to the closing Nursery where PURE DREAMER can take advantage of what looks a lenient opening mark. He never got the chance to show what he can do when third at Sandown recently, but track position counted against him that day and the return to 6f looks certain to suit him. By the time he was pulled out the winner was gone beyond recall, and while he wouldn’t have beaten him, he would have finished closer and while the double figure prices when betting opened yesterday are a thing of the past, the current 8/1 still seems perfectly acceptable.
1-45 Lahore 1pt Ew 14/1 (general)
2-45 Roberto Escobarr 1pt win 7/1 (general)
4-50 Pure Dreamer 1pt win 8/1 (general)