The Ebor Festival takes place over the next four days at York Racecourse and will play host to some spectacular racing scenes including the Juddmonte International which takes place on the opening day of the festival. The Group 1 showpiece race is run over one mile and two and a half furlongs and is open to horses three years and older. The eight-strong field is made up of some top group performers which will make for excellent and exciting viewing.
Sir Michael Stoute-trained Poet’s Word runs under James Doyle and is the current favourite priced at 13/8. The son of Poet’s Voice will be bidding to deliver a Group 1 hat-trick at York. His winning performance in the King George showed his courage and the Juddmonte International comes after he fought off a tough contest from stablemate Crystal Ocean at Ascot. Previous to this, the five-year-old landed the Prince of Wales Stakes at the royal meeting. A very versatile horse in terms of trip, he will be many peoples idea of the winner.
On the other hand, there are another seven runners who should certainly not be brushed aside. Poet’s Word will face Eclipse Stakes first and second Roaring Lion trained by John Gosden and Aidan O’Brien-trained Saxon Warrior, Dubai World Cup winner Thunder Snow and Benbatl, St. James Palace winner Without Parole, Irish Derby scorer Latrobe and lastly Thundering Blue, the only horse in the race yet to win at Group 1 level.
Eclipse winner Roaring Lion is priced at 5/2 and may be one of the main dangers to the market leader. With his latest form being 131 the son of Kitten’s Joy will be one to watch closely. Oisin Murphy is set to do the steering and the same pair beat Saxon Warrior by a neck in the Eclipse.
Saxon Warrior is set to represent the Ballydoyle Stables and is another strong contender in the International. The three-year-old son of Deep Impact will be ridden by stable jockey Ryan Moore and is one to watch in the betting market as he is currently priced at a tempting 9/2. Saxon Warrior put on an excellent performance in the Eclipse and missed out on taking the title only by a neck. The Ballydoyle representatives’ will be eager to push past the last narrow defeat to take the title in the showpiece race of the Ebor Festival.
Dubai World Cup winner Thunder Snow will make a return to turf for the first time in ten months with an even more ambitious tilt at the Breeders’ Cup Classic ahead.
The Godolphin-owned colt, who has not raced since his outstanding victory by five and three-quarter lengths at Meydan in March will be all guns blazing to ensure an impressive return to the track is made.
Thundering Blue is the only runner not to yet win at Group 1 level, however, trainer David Menuisier is under no illusion that his five-year-old will be facing exalted company, but after Thundering Blue beat Brorocco and Elarqam in last month’s Group 2 York Stakes the Juddmonte International has been the aim of the Pulborough based trainer.
The Juddmonte International is certainly set to be a very competitive race it will most defiantly not be one not to be missed.
Selection: Saxon Warrior
Among the quality races on day one, the Symphony Group Handicap is the first race to kick off the four days of the Ebor Festival. With 17 runners set to go to post, it leaves the betting market wide open. However, there are some names that stand out.
The favourite is Charles Appleby-trained Culturati who will be ridden by William Buick in the five and a half furlongs contest. The Godolphin-owned five-year-old is lightly raced but will take a step back in trip at the York track.
David O’Meara-trained Fashion Queen may be another to keep a close eye on, as the daughter of Aqlaam enjoyed a win in a Listed contest at this Festival last season. The four-year-old also finished second on her last outing at Deauville Racecourse last month.
It will be an interesting contest and two to keep an eye on in the betting market are Tis Marvellous who will be ridden by Adam Kirby and who is trained by Clive Cox. Another to watch for is the Paul Midgley-trained Final Venture with Oisin Murphy doing the steering. Midgley won this handicap last year with Desert Law. Also, Final Venture made a good effort to finish in third position on his last outing at York last May and certainly has a competitive shout in this handicap.
Selection: Final Venture
Another quality race taking place on day one of the Festival is the Group 3 Tattersalls Acomb Stakes open to two-year-olds. With eight declared runners going to post it will be an interesting contest for the younger horses.
The favourite of the seven furlongs contest is Richard Hannon-trained Watan who will be ridden by Irish man Oisin Murphy. The son of Toronado showed major potential when winning his maiden at Goodwood with ease last month. Although green, he is bound to improve from his last run and will be one to watch at York and in the future.
Ballydoyle trainer Aidan O’Brien is represented here with Ryan Moore aboard Broome. The son of Australia is set to put on a good performance after his impressive win at the Galway Festival at the start of the month. Although at Galway he was upset in the stalls he still pushed along to soon lead and was one length clear halfway to win the race comfortably.
Mark Johnston-trained Persian Moon is another strong competitor in the Group 3 Acomb Stakes. The son of Makfi will be steered by Silvestre De Sousa. He has progressed nicely on his four starts winning on his last two outings both of which were over seven furlongs.
The Group 2 Great Voltigeur Stakes takes place on day one of the Festival and welcomes a field of nine runners. Ran over one mile and four furlongs the race is open to colts and geldings who are three years old. This year’s renewal has some interesting declarations and it is set to be a competitive race.
Aidan O’Brien has four runners in the race but it is Kew Gardens who catches the eye most in the field. The three-year-old will be ridden by stable jockey Ryan Moore. The son of Galileo has won on his last two outings, winning both the Queen’s Vase and the Grand Prix de Paris.
Kew Gardens did himself justice at the Longchamp track in France in great style last month and he may just have the experience to quip the favourite on the betting market.
The favourite for this Group 2 is Charles Appleby-trained Cross Counter who will be ridden by William Buick. The Godolphin-owned gelding has won on his last two starts taking the title in the Group 3 Qatar Gordon Stakes at Goodwood with his ease where he also broke the track record. The three-year-old has always finished in the top four since he started racing. With such an excellent record, he will be the horse others will be striding out to beat.
Wells Farhh Go is the third big contender in the race. Trained by North Yorkshire based Tim Easterby, the son of Farhh will be returning to the York track to try for another victory as he won the Acomb here last year. The bay colt also won the Group 3 Bahrain Trophy Stakes at Newmarket last month. He is set to be steered by jockey David Allan in the Voltigeur Stakes and will be one to keep a close eye on.
Others to watch for include Aidan O’Brien-trained The Pentagon and Charles Appleby-trained Old Persian.
Selection: Kew Gardens