Ebor Festival (York) Results and Report 2017
Last week saw this year’s Ebor Meeting take place on the Knavesmire, and what a meeting it was. With a fair mix of impressive displays from fancied runners, and the odd shock result, here we take a look back at the highlights from each of the four days.
Day 1: Cracksman Too Classy In Voltigeur Romp and Ulysses Imperious In International
Not quite good enough to win an English or Irish Derby, having finished third and second at Epsom and the Curragh respectively, John Gosden’s Cracksman took a slight drop in class in a bid to rediscover the winning trail in the Group 2 Great Voltigeur Stakes.
Year upon year the Derby form proves to be just about the best around. And this son of Frankel gave it a further boost here with an authoritative display. Reportedly having improved at home since that narrow Irish Derby defeat, that certainly seemed to be the case as he simply blew his rivals away to the tune of six lengths. It’s the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe next, with Ladbrokes making him a 9/1 shot for Chantilly glory.
The heavyweight clash of the opening day came in the Juddmonte International Stakes as Barney Roy, Churchill and Ulysses locked horns. Group 1 winners one and all, it certainly wasn’t easy to call who would come out on top. In the end the two three year olds proved no match for their older rival on the day, with Barney Roy burning himself up in front, and Chruchill improving on his St James’s Palace Stakes flop but ultimately being outstayed.
Sir Michael Stoute’s Ulysses seems to be improving at a rate of knots and having previously looked a little reluctant once hitting the front, that quirk seems to have been ironed out now as he powered right away close home. The Breeder’s Cup Turf looks to be his next major assignment, with Bet365 cutting him to 3/1 from 5’s on the back of this display.
Day 2: Enable Adds To Oaks Collection and Threading Weaves Way To Lowther Success
Day 2 saw the undoubted banker of the meeting go to post as John Gosden’s Enable lined up for the 2017 edition of the Yorkshire Oaks. Having already posted utterly dominant displays to win the English and Irish Oaks and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes – each time with a winning margin of around five lengths – this looked something of a formality on paper, despite being a Group 1 affair.
It seems five is the magic number when it comes to Enable’s dominance, as the daughter of Nathaniel was once again five lengths too good for the field here. Simply in a different league to these rivals, she may find things a little tougher in her next assignment, where she will join stablemate Cracksman in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. The compilers certainly like her chances of success though, with Bet365 making her their 11/10 favourite for the race.
Elsewhere on Thursday’s card, Mark Johnston’s juvenile filly Threading built upon the excellent impression she had made when romping away with a maiden contest at Glorious Goodwood. Stepping up into the Group 2 Lowther Stakes was a big ask on just her second career start, but this daughter of Exceed and Excel proved more than up to the task. Value for more than the winning margin here and with the prospect of further improvement to come, there may be a touch of value in the 20/1 available with Ladbrokes for the 2018 1000 Guineas.
Day 3: A Nose Is Enough For Montaly And Marsha As Favourites Are Floored
Fans of heartstopping close finishes were certainly well catered for on the penultimate day. The two big races produced two winners by the narrowest of margins. First up came the unfancied Montaly from the yard of Andrew Balding. Tackling the likes of Thomas Hobson, Dartmouth, Sheikhzayedroad and Dal Harraild, the six year old looked to have a bit of work to do on the book. In the hands of P J McDonald though, this son of Yeats showed all of his sires famous staying power to haul in the Queen’s Dartmouth on the line.
It’s not too often we see a nose winning margin at the end of a two mile trip, but that’s what we had here as Balding added yet another success to what has already been an excellent year for the Kingsclere handler.
The minimum winning margin is perhaps to be a little more expected over the minimum 5f trip, but the result of the Nunthorpe Stakes certainly came as a huge surprise to jockey Frankie Dettori. This was billed as the clash of the sprinting season in some quarters.
Dettori’s mount Lady Aurelia tackled the Charles Hills-trained speedball, Battaash, and the race certainly proved to be a thriller, but perhaps not quite in the manner expected. With Battaash disappointing, it was left to the US star Lady Aurelia to make her bid for glory entering the final furlong.
Hot in pursuit though and closing all the way to the line was the Sir Mark Prescott mare, Marsha. At first glance it appeared that Lady Aurelia had clung on, with Dettori so confident he celebrated immediately after the line. These camera angles can be a little misleading though and upon closer inspection it was Marsha who had got her tenacious nose up for the win.
Day 4: Sands Shocks Them In Gimcrack As Nakeeta Nabs Fesitval Feature
Saturday’s Gimcrack Stakes looked to be one of the toughest Group races of the week to call, with the likes of Headway, Invincible Army, Cardsharp, Nebo and Frozen Angel all showing a broadly similar level of form heading into the juvenile sprint contest.
Spending your time deciding which of this quintet was most likely to prevail would in the end have proven to be a fruitless exercise. We had a shock, as it was the unexposed Sands Of Mali who danced his way to victory at 14/1. An easy 2 ¾l too good for this field, the Richard Fahey runner now looks well worth a crack at a Group 1, with the Dewhurst looking his most likely target.
The big event of the final day was of course the richest flat handicap race in Europe; the Ebor Handicap itself. With such a big pot to aim at it was no surprise to see many of England’s top training centres and yards represented.
However it was Scotland who landed the spoils as Iain Jardine headed back to his Carrutherstown base with his share of the £177,000+ winner’s purse. No doubt his six year old stayer Nakeeta was toasted long into the night, thanks to his battling display which saw him reel in Flymetothestars close home.
Having previously finished second in both a Chester Cup and Irish November Handicap, this success was no more than this admirably tough and consistent gelding deserved. Next stop: Australia and a tilt at the richest handicap run anywhere in the world, the Melbourne Cup. Coral make him a 40/1 shot for that November showpiece.
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