York Ebor Handicap Preview With The Snout
The Ebor Handicap takes place on Saturday as the centrepiece of what is a fantastic four day festival on the Knavesmire. The race is ran over 1m6f, and is currently the most valuable handicap in Europe, so it is no surprise for the big yards to really target this race, such as Tony Martin did last year when the late Heartbreak City powered away to win at odds of 15/2. There are a huge amount of variables that make this one of the toughest handicaps to piece together of the year, such as the all important draw, and the fact that there are just the 20 runners going to post. We talk through the main contenders below.
The current favourite is the lightly raced FLYMETOTHESTARS, best priced at 13/2. This horse ran a big race in the Northumberland Plate when pulling Luke Morris’ arms out the whole way around the Newcastle track and still managed to finish 3rd off a mark of 100. Up 2lb here, on that run he would have a chance, however he has the widest draw to contend with as well as the fact he is unraced on turf. That for me makes the price look far too skinny, and with plenty of bookmakers offering enhanced place terms we have to look elsewhere.
Second favourite is IVAN GROZNY, who is available at 8/1. Trained by Willie Mullins who has won this race previously, he hasn’t ran on the flat since bolting up at Galway last year. Since then, he has some mixed form (albeit in a high grade) over hurdles. He should be a significant pace angle however he looks a risky type considering his price.
DUBKA is third in the market at 8/1 and she could go very well for Josie Gordon. She has been competing at Listed and Group level the past 5 runs without success, however the form is strong, and she looks a very interesting up and coming stayer. She was narrowly beaten over this trip at Goodwood last time out in horrible conditions behind Endless Time, and what is also interesting is that she is 3 from 3 in handicaps albeit off lower marks. She would have to be on any shortlist.
Two at bigger prices do interest me. NAKEETA is a very consistent stayer who should go well off his mark of 103. He was beaten into 2nd at this meeting last year off a 6lb lower mark in the staying handicap on day 1, but since then he has finished 2nd at Leopardstown in a valuable handicap hurdle there, and has ran 2 fine runs this year when 2nd to Dal Harraild at this track, and then 4th of 14 at Newmarket back in a handicap. With the talented Callum Rodriguez taking 5lb off he should run well.
Another that is very interesting from a wide draw is STAR STORM. He has ran twice this year – 2nd to the Eclipse 3rd Desert Encounter in a Listed race at Ascot and then 3rd at Royal Ascot in the Duke of Edinburgh when not having a great passage through in the home straight. The booking of James Doyle I certainly like and he comes from the yard that won the Northumberland Plate earlier in the year.
With a huge amount of value around the main advice would be to a) certainly look for horses at a big price, b) ensure you take enhanced place terms where possible and c) wait until tomorrow for when we have a better picture of the likely ground conditions.