From Bore to Ebor: Forget Boris, Let’s Enjoy Some Racing!

Boris & Trump

Credit: Matt Brown (Flickr)

There are worrying similarities between Boris Johnson and Donald Trump, from the far-right views to the scarcely believable haircut they both tend to sport.

There’s a very real chance that BoJo could be prime minister of this fair isle one day, such is the appetite for right-leaning soundbites and ‘celebrity’ politicians, but please do try and sleep tonight regardless of that horrifying piece of news.

Instead, let’s focus on the good stuff: next week’s fantastic Ebor Festival, hosted by York racecourse from Tuesday to Saturday.

Your Guide to the Ebor Festival

The action kicks off on Wednesday with Juddmonte Day, a fantastic day’s racing with a delicious sandwich of the Great Voltigeur Stakes followed by the headline act, the Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes.

The Juddmonte is part of the British Champions Series, with former winners including the excellent Sea the Stars, Declaration of War, Ulysses and the incomparable Frankel. It’s a race with obvious links to the Epsom Derby and the Eclipse Stakes, so make sure you’re making notes of who runs well at York on Wednesday.

There’s plenty of pride at stake in Thursday’s feature race, the Yorkshire Oaks, which features a purse of some £350,000. Open to fillies and mares aged three and over, this 1m 3f affair was won in fine style 12 months ago by Frankie Dettori on board Enable.

There’s another British Champions Series outing on Friday, this time with the Nunthorpe Stakes. This Group 1 renewal has an open format, so two-year-olds can take on their elders, and at just 5f long it is something of a dash for the line.

That said, there has been just a single two-year-old winner of this renewal in the past 25 years, so don’t be too hasty in backing the young guns!

The standout race on the fourth and final day of the festival is the Ebor Handicap, a 1m 5f handicap that offers an eye-popping purse of some £500,000.

The Horses to Watch

Horses Racing

The Juddmonte is one of the highest rated renewals in UK racing, and with the prize pot being enhanced to £1 million in 2018 you can forgive many of the best trainers for pointing their best horses at the race.

Noted saddler John Gosden has got three high-profile fancies lined up, including Roaring Lion, Without Parole and Cracksman.

But the favourite comes from Sir Michael Stoute, and what a horse Poet’s Word is turning into. He has already bagged dual Group 1 success this summer in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the Prince of Wales’ Stakes, and the five-year-old tends to run well on any going.

He may or may not win the Juddmonte, but one thing that is for sure is that backers will get a decent run for their money.

Prior to that race, the Great Voltigeur Stakes looks wide open. It’s a renewal that tends to identify the stars of tomorrow, with Postponed, Idaho and Cracksman all taking the honours in recent times, so again have your notebook handy!

Kew Gardens is the bookies’ favourite, but Aidan O’Brien will be praying for plenty of sunshine to firm up the ground in the coming days for his charge to stand the best chance of emulating his winner here in 2016, Idaho.

One horse that really catches the eye there is Wells Farhh Go, a three-year-old with plenty of converging trends to savour.

He’s already won at York – last year’s Acomb Stakes at this very festival, and while sixth in the Dante Stakes o this track he was only six lengths or so back from Roaring Lion, a horse primed for greater things.

A winner last time out at Newmarket, Wells Farhh Go ticks plenty of the right boxes.

Another fancy who really excites is Battaash, who will go off as a mild odds-on favourite in the Nunthorpe Stakes.

Charlie Hills’ horse has won two and finished second in his trio of outings in 2018, with impressive victories in the Qatar Stakes and another Group 2 at Haydock Park.

Softer ground will appeal should the weekend rain come as forecast, and revenge will be sweet for a horse who lost to a rival here, Blue Point, in the King’s Stand Stakes at Ascot.

Finally, the last word must go to Stradivarius, who could earn connections a cool £1 million if he lands first place in the Lonsdale Cup on Friday.

The Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers’ Million is dished out if a horse can win one of one four recognised prep races as well as the Gold Cup, Goodwood Cup and the Lonsdale Cup.

Stradivarius is well on the way….nice work if you can get it!