Ebor Festival York

Friday at York features the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes, with the brilliant Battaash turning up to try and follow last years blitz up the Knavesmire, and connections hope it is the 2019 version, and not the one who finished fourth the previous 2 years that shows up.

Last year he put to bed the theory that York isn’t his track with a performance that was right up there with those he has shown every time he has turned up at his beloved Goodwood, and whatever connections did differently, they won’t stray from that now. His 2 wins this season have been achieved with the minimum of fuss, and although in the shape of Art Power he takes on the “new kid on the block”, that rival will have to take a huge step forward to beat an on-song Battaash.

And that is the hope for Art Power and others, because the Prix de L’Abbaye, which came 6 weeks after York last autumn was a total blow out, but that has been the only one in the last 2 years and hopefully, with the wind at his tail at 3-15 he can treat us to another top-notch performance.

Of course, he won’t represent a bet to the vast majority at odds-on quotes, but the “wind at his tail” bit may come into play at York tomorrow if the weather forecast proves correct. The wind is set to get up, and a track that often favours those ridden from on, or near the front, could prove a vital tool to use as a punter.

The closing Mile handicap at 4-50 is one of the most intriguing races of the week, with the long- awaited reappearance of VISINARI who hasn’t been sighted since his fourth at Doncaster close to a year ago.

Now, while in isolation that was a perfectly creditable effort, with those finishing ahead of him since boasting a Jersey Stakes win and a silver medal in the 2,000 Guineas, like the other 2 runs after his scintillating debut, it left us feeling a touch short-changed, with few people thinking that we would have reached August of his 3y-o career without doubling his career tally.

However, it could be that he has now filled his frame and letting him roll at a track like York might just be what he wants. This is a red hot contest of its kind and there has to be a possibility that we have already seen the best of the son of Dark Angel, but first time out could be the time to catch him and a win only play could be the way to go just in case he does blow out.

Earlier in the card the absence of Stradivarius this year opens the door for other stayers to get a look in and bag a big success, and his stable companion Enbihaar heads the market as she steps up to 2m for the first time. The longer trip shouldn’t be a problem and she is as consistent as they come, but this is a tough ask for her and a few others in the field are preferred.

Nayef Road has twice chased home the Champion stayer this summer, and in fact made odds-on backers sweat at Goodwood last time. He is likely to prove hard to pass up the straight at a track that should play to his strengths, and to my mind will probably go off favourite but narrow preference is for DASHING WILLOUGHBY who has looked a better horse this season for being gelded after his 3y-o career fizzled tamely away. Sandown last time showed that not only does he stay 2m, but there could well be more to come at it, and he can prove it here

Elsewhere on the card hugely impressive Salisbury winner Minzaal certainly hasn’t been missed in the Gimcrack market, while it was very tempting to put up Chamade in the Fillies handicap at 4-15. Ralph Beckett’s charge made all at Goodwood and while the switch to this track and 8lb rise may not stop her, there is a slight concern that First Kingdom will hassle her up front so she is regrettably left off at the last minute.

2-15 Dashing Willoughby 2 pts 4/1 (general)

4-50 Visinari 1 pt 7/1 (William Hill)

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