The Ebor Meeting is one of the biggest flat meetings in the UK and takes place at the end of August. The event’s feature race is the Juddmonte International, which is open to three-year-olds and above over the distance of 2000 metres.
York’s flagship meeting attracts the best turf horses from around the world, particularly in the sprint races, where runners from Australia and the USA have taken on their European counterparts on the Knavesmire in what are always fascinating contests to watch. Here is a look at this year’s races and the best tips for the meeting.
The entries for this year’s Juddmonte International suggest it could be one of the best editions of the race in a long time. There are a number Group One winners at 2000m and 2400m on the list, while it always makes for a great race when some of the leading three-year-olds take part against the older generation.
Richard Hannon’s exciting colt Barney Roy looks to be the horse they all have to beat at York. Connections opted against running their horse at Glorious Goodwood in the Sussex Cup, where he could have taken on Ribchester and Churchill over 1600m. Instead, they are happy for their runner to remain at the trip he ran on for the first time in the Eclipse Stakes when finishing second to Ulysses last month.
Barney Roy has had an excellent campaign so far. He was second in the opening Classic of 2017, the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, where Churchill just had too much speed for him in the closing stages of the three-year-old race. He did gain revenge over his rival at Royal Ascot, though, in the St James’s Palace Stakes, where he left his challenge late in the contest.
Hannon must believe that his horse is better over 2000m as he took his chance in the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown. Barney Roy was involved in a battle with Ulysses inside the last 200m and just lost out on the victory in a photo with the older horse – but he did improve his reputation despite the defeat.
If Barney Roy improves again at York, he can make the most of the weight allowance that he will be getting with the older horses. As a result, at 3.0 in the betting for the Juddmonte International, he is the best bet in the race.
The Great Voltigeur Stakes serves as a trial for the St Leger next month, the final Classic on the 2017 UK flat calendar. The betting for this year’s race is headed by Cracksman, who has had a consistent season as he finished third in the Derby and second in the Irish Derby. With just four starts under his name, he remains very much unexposed and has been popular with punters ahead of the Doncaster race in September.
The preference at York and in the St Leger has to be with Capri, though, who looked as though he had developed into a strong racehorse who will appreciate a step up in trip when he battled on strongly inside the final 200m of the Irish Derby at the Curragh. The son of Galileo is in a stable full of talent at Ballydoyle and it says a lot about how much Aidan O’Brien thinks of colt that he is set to be his leading St Leger horse this year. The Classic winner is 7.0 to win the Great Voltigeur, while if you want to back him ahead of the Doncaster, he is 4.0 to prevail in the St Leger.
O’Brien is looking for his fourth winner in the Great Voltigeur. Twelve months ago, Idaho, who is a full brother to Highland Reel, prevailed here under Seamie Heffernan. The last horse to run in this York race and win the St Leger was Encke in 2012 who was third at the Ebor Meeting before winning the final Classic of the year.
Recent King George winner Enable could be back in action again in the Yorkshire Oaks, where she will be bidding for her fourth Group One win of the year. John Gosden’s filly was the impressive winner of the Oaks at Epsom back in June where she finished five lengths ahead of her three-year-old rivals on the Downs. The British horse proved that win was no fluke when she travelled across to the Curragh for the Irish equivalent of the race just a few weeks later, where the margin was even bigger on good-to-firm ground.
Gosden did not wait long to take the step up against the older horses with his talented filly as he took his chance in a strong renewal of the King George at Ascot, which featured the likes of Highland Reel, Jack Hobbs, Ulysses and Idaho, all horses with a wealth of experience at the top level. The three-year-old filly received weight allowance against the older horses and the opposite sex but she took full advantage as she stretched away in the closing stages on testing ground.
It is difficult to look past Enable continuing her winning run at York if she returns to action so soon. The last horse to win the Oaks at Epsom and prevail in this contest was Alexandrova in 2006. Gosden will have planned out her path for the rest of the year very carefully and that could include a run in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe where she is now the 2.0 favourite for the French race.
Enable is as short as 0.50 at York, so there will be punters who will be looking for an each-way alternative in the race and that could be with Queen’s Trust who is 10.0. Sir Michael Stoute’s runner won the Group One Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Santa Anita last November. She has already had two runs so far in the campaign and does not usually produce her best form until the second half of the campaign. The four-year-old is very capable of giving Enable a strong test and finishing in the frame for some place money at the very least.
Lady Aurelia was too quick for her rivals at Royal Ascot once again last month as she made all to prevail in the King’s Stand Stakes. Her trainer Wesley Ward has opted to keep his talented sprinter in the UK for the rest of the flat season and that is bad news for the British and Irish horses in the division as it is difficult to see them having much joy with the American filly around.
The 1000m trip in the Nunthorpe is the perfect distance for Ward’s runner so she should be able to notch up her third success of the year. Unfortunately, you are not going to get rich backing the Royal Ascot winner as she is no bigger than 0.80, but she is definitely worth considering in your accumulators for the meeting.
Barney Roy to win the Juddmonte International @ 3.0
Capri to win the Great Voltigeur @ 7.0
Enable to win Yorkshire Oaks $0.50/Queen’s Trust each way in the Yorkshire Oaks @ 10.0
Lady Aurelia to win the Nunthorpe Stakes @ 0.80