A mouth-watering card at York this afternoon will sign off another remarkable Ebor meeting. Our hearts were warmed as local father and daughter, Kevin and Amy Ryan, opened their account in the very first race. We’ve witnessed another dominant display from the brilliantly versatile Australia in the JuddmonteTiggy Wiggy showed both class and determination when making all in Lowther Stakes. Then, we were left gobsmacked, when Taghrooda failed to fend off a late challenge from Tapestry in the Yorkshire Oaks. Finally, we saw Richard Hughes produce one of the finest examples of jockeyship you’re ever likely to see as he weaved through the Nunthorpe Stakes field on Sole Power yesterday. With the final chapter still to be written, I can comfortably say that this year’s Ebor meeting will remain one of my fondest memories of the sport. 

Given that 22 line up in the Ebor Handicap, it will hardly come as a surprise to you that I’ve chosen to preview the Gimrack Stakes instead! With The Great War sadly missing out, 10 juveniles go to post in for the Group 2 contest over 6f.   

Tommy Stack doesn’t usually come across the Irish Sea just for a holiday, so he must be expecting big things from his unbeaten raider, Accepted (13/2). Having won on debut at The Currugh, he showed a most willing attitude to take a Listed contest at Tipparary last time over 5f. This longer trip will suit, but he simply hasn’t shown the level of form that some of these have as yet. The other two contenders looking to maintain their unbeaten records are Fendale (9/1) and Glenalmond (20/1), and whilst they have shown clear promise, similar comments can be applied. 

Jungle Cat (8/1) has been a model of consistency for Mark Johnson in his career to date, and since winning his maiden in good style at Goodwood, has placed in Group 2 company on three occasions. He has to be the each way bet of the race at that price, though he may yet again be following home one, or two, of Richard Hannon’s inmates.  

The Wiltshite trainer is a man whose opinion I’m sure you’d love to hear. He saddles both Baitha Alga (3/1) and Beacon (7/2).  With such little disparity in their price, and the fact that Frankie Dettori is retained for Al Shaqab Racing – meaning Richard Hughes has no choice but to ride Beacon – it’s difficult to gauge who the stable fancies most. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Richard Hannon himself wasn’t 100% sure who the more likely winner would be. One thing I am reasonably confident of, is that one of the will win!  

Baitha Alga has not been seen since his ultra-impressive Norfolk Stakes victory at Royal Ascot over 5f. Having already proven himself over this longer trip, he has fewest questions to answer. Though Beacon has never been this far his breeding and form suggest he’ll improve for it. Despite the 3lb penalty, my slight preference is for Frankie Dettori’s mount, BAITHA ALGA. The way he swept past the strong field at Royal Ascot is too difficult to ignore, and having been given a short break, is sure to improve again. Having said that, I wouldn’t discourage anyone that fancied the Hannon pair in a reverse forecast! 

Peter Chapple Hyam’s season has threatened to revive his career; the likes of Arod and Inchilla have come close to landing big prizes that would put the dual Derby winning trainer back on the map. He runs Ahlan Emarati (14/1), who also has the potential to win a big race and a return to 6f should benefit him. Although, there is little to sugest he can reverse the Norfolk Stakes form with Baitha Alga.


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Posted in George Wells
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February 2018
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