The Ebor Festival at York begins on Wednesday 23 August, with seven races taking place between 2.25-5.20.
I’ve got four tips for the first of four days, including one against red-hot favourite Paddington in the Juddmonte International – while the NAP goes in the finale.
2.25 – Ballymount Boy @ 9/4
Qatar’s Wathnan Racing have proved they’re not afraid to splash the cash and, so far, have hardly put a foot wrong.
I think the acquisition of Adrian Paul Keatley’s Ballymount Boy is another shrewd one that can see instant rewards after the G3 Acomb Stakes on Wednesday afternoon.
What’s not to like about this two-year-old son of Camacho? He’s improved with every run this season, culminating in a brilliant second in the G2 Richmond Stakes at Glorious Goodwood the other week.
That form got an almighty boost when Vandeek, who was only a length ahead of the selection who had the rest of the field over 5L behind, won the G1 Prix Morny at Deauville last weekend.
He shapes like this step up to 7f will really suit, connections have been waxing lyrical about him being a 2000 Guineas type for next season and, frankly, this doesn’t look the strongest Group 3 of all time.
What price would he be if he was trained by Aidan O’Brien, and all that…
3.00 – Gregory @ 11/8
John & Thady Gosden’s Gregory puts his Betfred St Leger credentials to the test when he takes in the G2 Great Voltigeur Stakes – and I suspect he’ll pass with flying colours to hopefully land a quickfire double for Wathnan Racing.
Racing is almost never this straightforward, but lines through both Circle Of Fire and Saint George give me good reason to believe the three-year-old son of Golden Horn can see off Charlie Appleby’s Castle Way, especially given the selection has significantly more scope for improvement having only raced three times to date.
Continuous has to be respected given connections, but he still has a fair bit to do on form – while I can’t see Artistic Star or Canberra Legend making a splash in this company.
3.35 – Mostahdaf @ 9/4
I’m not one for making bold claims just for the sake of it. I’ll only do so if I genuinely believe it – and I genuinely believe Aidan O’Brien’s Paddington is vulnerable in the Juddmonte.
The three-year-old son of Siyouni, a four-time Group 1 winner who’s unbeaten in his last seven starts, is plenty short enough coming into what I deem the toughest test of his career so far after a slightly underwhelming performance in the Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood.
It’s been a long season for Paddington – a testament to his outstanding attitude – which could now be catching up to him. I certainly think so after his latest showing anyway.
For me, John & Thady Gosden’s Mostahdaf is his toughest rival to date and well worth a bet at current prices.
The five-year-old son of Frankel has raced over 1m2f on good ground, which is expected on Wednesday, four times, winning three of them. Those three performances represent the highest RPRs of his career at 119, 122 and 128.
The latter was his most recent effort, when beating King George fourth Luxembourg and former Derby winner Adayar with ease. If that Mostahdaf shows up, he can do more than give the favourite something to think about.
5.20 – Starlust @ 11/2
Last but certainly not least, I’ve got Ralph Beckett’s Starlust – my NAP of Day 1 – for the finale.
These nursery handicaps, especially over sprint trips, can be extremely tricky, but this colt has so much going for him that he just has to be advised.
I think 6f on good ground is optimal, and a mark of 92 may yet underestimate him. The form of his novice win over Array at Newbury has been well-advertised since, and I think he was worth a lot more than the official margin when second in a similar event at Glorious Goodwood earlier this month.
That combined with the first-time booking of Ryan Moore and the fact the Beckett yard is operating at an impressive 28% strike rate makes this a straightforward pick to end the day.