York’s Ebor Festival starts on Wednesday with the world’s best racehorse Frankel bidding to extend his unbeaten run to thirteen in the Juddmonte International Stakes. Sir Henry Cecil’s colt will not be a serious betting proposition but he is stepping up in distance to a mile and a quarter for the first time and this represents a challenge in itself. He is facing top class opponents with Group 1 form over a mile and a quarter to a mile and a half and they will be out to test his stamina to the full. The biggest threat may come from Aidan O’Brien’s St Nicholas Abbey, winner of the Coronation Cup and the Breeders’ Cup.
There is also a key St Leger trial on Wednesday as Derby runner-up Main Sequence lines up against top quality opposition in the Great Voltigeur Stakes. David Lanigan‘s colt looked desperately unlucky in France last time out and was runner-up to Camelot at Epsom. He faces a tough rival in Frankel’s younger brother, Noble Mission. The colt is gradually making a name for himself and a brave second at Royal Ascot was followed by a battling win over Godolphin’s Encke at Glorious Goodwood. His Ascot conqueror, Thomas Chippendale, and Encke reoppose with John Gosden’s Thought Worthy and new Godolphin recruit Energiser making up a small but select field.
The Yorkshire Oaks is the feature race on Thursday with Gosden’s The Fugue bidding to follow up her stylish win in the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood. That event was over a mile and a quarter, the same distance as her win here in the Musidora Stakes. Although she was unlucky when third in the Epsom Oaks, she still has to show that she is equally effective over a mile and a half and she faces stiff opposition again here. Oaks winner Was and runner-up Shirocco Star re-oppose along with Sir Henry Cecil’s Wild Coco and Alain de Royer-Dupre’s Shareta.
Friday’s feature race is the Group One Nunthorpe Stakes, a race that could decide the sprint championship this season. Roger Charlton’s Bated Breath needs a fast surface to show his best form and has not been out since a good second at Royal Ascot. He beat last year’s Nunthorpe winner, Sole Power, when setting a course record at Haydock first time out so his lack of a recent outing ought not to count against him. Australian mare Ortensia won well at Glorious Goodwood last time and this is the last leg of her European tour.
Sir Mark Prescott’s Motivado is a hot favourite for Saturday’s Ebor Handicap, carrying only a 4lb penalty for an impressive victory at Goodwood. He faces a tough opponent in John Gosden’s Camborne who swooped from well off the pace to win at Royal Ascot. Jockey William Buick will be at pains to hold him up in this big field and he may need luck in running to be able to deliver that blistering turn of foot.
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