Dissecting the big races

Dissecting the big races at this year’s York Ebor Festival

The York Racecourse has established itself as one of Britain’s leading tracks, and it’ll be centre-stage yet again this week for its flagship event – the Ebor Festival. Dating back to 1843, the four-day festival marks the final major flat-race meeting of the summer, and this year’s event will consist of a star-studded line-up that includes some of the premier horses, trainers and jockeys that the UK has to offer.

With such a high calibre of talent descending upon the famed racecourse, let’s take a look at some of the prominent group races that will take place at the meet and who is likely to feature. Additionally, for those who enjoy a punt, read on as we dissect some of the bookies’ racing betting favourites and sleepers in what is a meeting filled with incredibly deep fields.

Juddmonte International Stakes

Arguably the biggest race on the card, the Juddmonte International Stakes will feature the world number one ranked horse Baaeed. Coming off the back of a stellar display at Goodwood, the William Haggas-trained three-year-old will secure ten wins in as many appearances if he is to come away with the chocolates on Wednesday. He won’t be without his fair share of competition however, with Mishriff and Native Trail worthy challengers to take out the Group 1 affair.

As expected, Baaeed is the overwhelming favourite at 4/9, while Mishriff and Native Trail sit as second and third favourites at 4/1 and 15/2 respectively. Although Baaeed has put forth performances that has drawn comparisons to all-time great Frankel, it will be a greater test this time out given he is making the much-anticipated move from a mile to a mile-and-a-quarter. That has provided Mishriff’s trainer Thady Gosden with a quiet level of confidence heading into the match-up, as he believes his thoroughbred’s experience over the distance could ultimately prove the difference.

Baaeed is obviously brilliantly talented,” he said. “He relaxes well and you would be shocked if he didn’t get the trip.

“But he’s taking on top-class mile-and-a-quarter horses and I think it’s fair to say that it’s a stronger division than the miling division at the moment. Mishriff seems to be in similar form to how he was when we went to York last year. He ran a huge race in the Eclipse and was perhaps unlucky there.”

Yorkshire Oaks

In what is yet another incredibly talented field, exceptional five-year-old Alpinista enters the race as the 7/4 favourite for Thursday’s Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks. The Sir Mark Prescott-trained grey mare has been in unbelievable form in the past 18 months, notching up six wins on the trot dating back to her triumph at Goodwood in April of last year. She followed up that victory with wins at Haydock, Hoppegarten, Cologne, Munich and most recently at Saint-Cloud. If Alpinista can put on a strong performance at York, it is tipped that she will feature in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe come October – Paris’ main flat-racing prize.

Magical Lagoon, Tuesday and La Petite Coco appear to be Alpinista’s greatest threats, with the three challengers garnering odds of 7/2, 7/2 and 6/1 respectively.

Nunthorpe Stakes

Taking place on Friday afternoon, the Group 1 sprint will feature a strong 17-horse field that include big names such as the favourite and unbeaten Royal Aclaim (6/4), Alice Keppel Fillies’ Conditions Stakes winner The Platinum Queen (11/4), Arc Prix Maruice de Geest victor Highfield Princess (8/1), and the ever-threatening Khaadem (10/1).

While there are a number of horses who are more heavily favoured to take out the five-furlong affair, a potentially strong value bet could be last year’s Nunthorpe Stakes winner Winter Power – who in spite of her disappointing recent form – always poses a threat at York and could be worth a look at 16/1.

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