York Ebor Festival tips: Side with Ghaiyyath on day one

The York Ebor Festival is here and the in-form Steven Dowler has runs the rule over the opening day with a Boosted £7,000 Place 6 at stake. Check out his York Ebor Festival tips and join his Syndicate.


York Ebor Festival tips


13.45 – Class 2 Handicap – 5f

A tough handicap to get our York Ebor Festival tips underway. It might pay to have a few runners on side in the opening leg.

Although I am very mindful of the fact that low-drawn numbers will probably hold the upper hand during the week, I can’t help but feel ARECIBO is well-treated to play a significant role in the finish. He needs an awful lot of luck-in-running, but he’s gone close to winning a sizable handicap previously off tougher marks in contrast to today’s, and his proven back-class with course form makes him an appealing contender.

MUBAALEGH also has a high draw to contend with, but he could be the Group horse in the race having shaped beautifully on debut for connections which came in a tough sprint-handicap at Ascot under top-weight 9-10, and the handicapper has provided him plenty of respite by dropping him 3lb while carrying nearly a stone less than last time. Jim Crowley takes the ride again, and the nature of this race will really suit Marcus Tregoning’s diminutive, strong-travelling sort who will get a good pace to aim at when push comes to shove.

David Allan has made the preference to ride HYPERFOCUS rather than course specialist Copper Knight, and that could prove significant with his mount balancing on an attractive mark that he’s definitely more than capable of exploiting if bouncing back to form, while taking into account, that he’s nearly bottom of the weights. He went close to winning three times last year off higher marks, and the drop back to the minimum trip could work the oracle given he’s a fast-action sort, who handles all ground conditions.

Finally, MAGIC J and SOLDIER’S MINUTE complete the list of five for leg one, based on the mere fact that they will relish this truly-run contest and if they go too hard up front, there is every chance either one of these two useful sorts will be pick up the pieces late in the day.



14.15 – Acomb Stakes – 7f

Another tricky race with plenty to consider, but CLOUDBRIDGE was an impressive-winner on debut for the boys in blue, and on the face of it, looks more than capable of making his presence felt entering pattern-company for the first time. Any normal improvement from his debut success would no doubt see him extremely hard to beat in a bid to remain unbeaten.

You need a good horse to win at Chester at the first time of asking and Marco Botti’s PRAISE OF SHADOWS did exactly that – winning by an easy three lengths despite being badly hampered leaving the stalls. He hit the line so strongly that day which indicated that connections could have a very smart horse on their hands, therefore, he’s the most overpriced horse in the race with a good each-way chance.

Clive Cox’s ROYAL SCIMITAR beat a subsequent winner on debut (Line Of Departure) who had the benefit of experience and bolted up at Ascot next time out. This two-year-old did everything right that day, always holding the runner-up having travelled sweetly throughout the race before winning mostly under hands and heels having only been given one tap of the whip. With plenty more to come, he certainly can’t be dismissed at a fair price.



14.45 – Great Voltigeur Stakes – 1m3f 

A typically-competitive renewal of the Group-2 Great Voltigeur at 14.45. Firstly, i have to mention John Gosden’s Darain – who has been impressive in both victories to date, albeit at a lower level, and it’s interesting to see him pitched into this sort of company. He has obvious claims, but his latest win hasn’t worked out well with the runner-up being beaten convincingly at Wolverhampton next time out, and based on his potential over proven collateral form, I’m going overlook him in favour of Aidan O’Brien’s MOGUL – who got his career back on track in a Group-2 at Glorious Goodwood nearly three weeks ago. He was a fair sixth in the Derby prior to that victory, and is only one of just two proven winners at this distance. I’m expecting this expensive purchase to kick on again now with more improvement to come, and he’s the one they all have to beat.

The other one I want on side, who seems to have been overlooked in the market is BERKSHIRE ROCCO for Andrew Balding. He doesn’t have a lot to find with the market leaders based on official ratings, and since winning at Chester, his three runs in defeat have been rock-solid. He wasn’t far behind English King at Lingfield before chasing home Santiago at Royal Ascot. The slight drop back in trip here looks a good move, and with William Buick booked to ride, I’m convinced he represents decent each-way value with an actual chance of taking top honours given he’s chased home an Irish Derby winner and a horse who was strongly supported for the English equivalent.



15.15 – Juddmonte International – 1m2f 

A top-class renewal of this Group-1, despite only six runners going to post.

This looks to be based around Charlie Appleby’s GHAIYYATH – who has won all three races this year including the last twice at the highest-level, which included a career-best performance in the Coral-Eclipse. He will be a short-priced favourite for today’s feature race, but his form is top-class having beaten Stradivarius and Enable the last twice, dominating proceedings from the front each time. The ground will suit, the track should suit (front-runners do well here) so everything looks in place for the 127-rated colt to try and add a third straight Group-1 victory on his impressive CV.

The only real danger I see – who is well worth backing – is Aidan O’Brien’s star filly MAGICAL – who will get 3lb from the favourite and has returned better than ever this season with two Group-1 wins at the Curragh, and on that form alone, brings her right into the mix. This race demands much more, but her form figures over 1m2f reads an impressive 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1 and 1, so having yet to taste defeat over this distance, it’s clear to see that it is her optimum trip. She was second at this track last year behind Enable, so track experience will be on her side. In conclusion, I’m more than happy to back her given her cracking record over the trip, and is the only runner I can see dethroning Ghaiyyath, while Kameko has yet to tackle this distance but could go well.



15.45 – Class 2 Handicap – 2m

The penultimate leg of the York Ebor Festival tips is another tricky race for punters, with the majority of these looking well-treated off their current marks. It’s a race, nevertheless, that Ralph Beckett likes to target having won two of the last three renewals. He saddles a couple in this year’s event starting with MAKE MY DAY – who is a winner of his last two starts including a defeat of Northumberland Plate winner Caravan Of Hope over 1m6f before winning on his stable debut here last time out when comfortably scoring over 1m3f, for which was only his fourth career race. A 6lb rise does make life tougher, but the step up to 2m could easily eke out further improvement, and with the yard operating at a fair 21% strike-rate at the track with 4+ year-olds, this unexposed four-year-old has to enter calculations.

I also like the claims of Tom Dascombe’s only runner that he will saddle at York’s day one meeting RAJINSKY, who remains unexposed over marathon trips and brings a solid, consistent profile to the race. His first attempt at 2-miles came in the Northumberland Plate, and he stayed on nicely to be a never-nearer 7th of 18 runners. His improvement has continued to expand, finishing second the next twice. Firstly, when beaten just a neck at Ascot over 1m6f before a change to positive tactics almost worked the oracle when rallying to be beaten only ¾ lengths when second in the Marsh Cup off a mark of 90.

Meanwhile, the bottom weight TRUE DESTINY has proven form over this trip being a course and distance winner, and the assessor has only put him a couple of pounds for his sixth placed effort at Glorious Goodwood where he was possibly given too much to do. Ryan Moore is a fascinating jockey booking, so if he’s ridden a little closer to the pace today, there’s a fair chance Roger Charlton’s progressive stayer will be thereabouts.

Alan King has won this race before, and it seems likely that JUST IN TIME has been trained for the race. The six-year-old is 3/3 over 1m6f and returned from a fair absence to finish an eye-catching sixth at Glorious Goodwood over 2m where he travelled like the winner before blowing out inside the final furlong, for which he was entitled to do so. His fitness will be assured for today’s race off a 1lb lower mark and the price tag significantly underestimates his chances here given he’s only 2lb above his last winning mark which came at Doncaster over 1m6f, for which he beat the 109-rated Austrian School. There is nothing in today’s race in the same calibre of that horse, therefore, he’s a massively player as far as I’m concerned.



16.20 – Class 2 Handicap – 5f

William Haggas could hold the key to this competitive-looking sprint race with PINK SANDS. She was a close-up third at Sandown when last seen in a race that wasn’t run to suit, along with herself enduring a trouble passage. That was her first race in handicap company, and she left plenty to build on going forward for connections. The handicapper has left her alone on a mark of 82 despite the rise in class, so although this race demands more, she’s unexposed and will have the assistance of Cieran Fallon off bottom weight, who has his only ride on the card.

The top-weight and Karl Burke’s four-year-old LADY IN FRANCE badly needed her reappearance last time out, and she takes a drop down in class for today’s race. She’s only raced four times in the UK, winning twice and placing second once, two of which came at Listed level. Today’s race is arguably easier, so with much more to come from her, she’s expected to go well.



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