WITH the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival just three weeks away, Turf Talk looks at how a selection of the races are shaping up and asked York Racecourse head of marketing James Brennan for his view.
Juddmonte International, Wednesday, August 20
A HIGH quality 24 remain in the running for York's richest ever race - The Group 1 mile-and-a-quarter contest weighing in this year at £800,000.
Australia, the hugely impressive Derby winner, is the big draw and his trainer, Ballydoyle's Aidan O'Brien, has confirmed the Juddmonte is one of two potential targets for the hugely exciting colt.
North Yorkshire hopes are squarely on the shoulders of The Grey Gatsby. Trained at Sutton Bank by Kevin Ryan, the three-year-old has won the Dante Stakes at York this season and, subsequently, the Prix du Jockey Club Stakes in France.
Brennan said: "For all the colour and fury of a big competitive handicap like the Betfred Ebor there remains something special about the grace of the superstars in the most valuable contest of the week.
"Often a tactical affair, the shake of the reins followed by the burst of acceleration from the likes of Sea The Stars and Frankel are what make memories.
"A clash between the generations always adds a little spice and the classic crop look handily represented this year, throw in a realistic chance of the first Yorkshire trained horse of the race in 43 runnings, courtesy of The Grey Gatsby, and we could be off to a metaphorical as well as literal flyer."
Neputne Investment Management Great Voltigeur Stakes, Wednesday, August 20
THIRTEEN horses have done the Neptune Investment Management Great Voltigeur/ St Leger double and Snow Sky is now 10-1 to become the next after connections indicated York could be the target for the colt that carries the same colours as the mighty Frankel.
Victory in the Group 2 contest would be the eighth for Sir Michael Stoute.
Brennan said: “As well as being a great race in its own right, the Neptune Investment Management Great Voltigeur is a race that can herald even greater things, be it classic success on 13 occasions already or a fabulous four-year-old career - as with Telescope last season’s champion.
"It looks likely that the pair at the head of things in Neptune Investment Management Gordon Stakes earlier this week, Snow Sky and Windshear, will meet again at York.”
Pinsent Masons Lowther Stakes, Thursday, August 21
LADIES DAY could be all about Alexander as the two top fillies owned by Noel O’Callaghan that share that name, Patience Alexander and Alexander Anthem, are on track for the Pinsent Masons Lowther Stakes, the richest juvenile fillies Group 2 in the land.
The lightly raced, Bimbo, trained by seven-time York champion Richard Fahey at Malton, would be a popular winner carrying the colours of Lady Halifax.
“The end of this year will see Lord Halifax step down after many years of service on the Race Committee, said Brenann. "So the home team will be cheering for a romantics victory in what is the richest Group 2 race for juvenile fillies."
Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes, Friday, August 21
THIRTY-SEVEN speedballs remain engaged in the five furlong dash including the two-time champion Borderlescott, trained at Cowthorpe by Robin Bastiman, who, at 12, would be by far the race's oldest winner.
Brennan said: "Over in a minute, the thunder of hooves of these sprinters is the audio memory of the week, likely to only be drowned out by the roar from his home crowd if Borderlescott were to become the third horse to land a hat trick after Tag End way back in the late twenties and Sharpo in the eighties”
Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Gimcrack Stakes, Friday, August 21
A STRONG line-up includes Hootenanny along with Baithi Alga, who also won at the Royal Meeting.
Won by Astaire and Kevin Ryan last season, a fourth winner for the Sutton Bank trainer - his others have been Blaine and Amadeus Wolf - could come with Flaming Spear, an impressive maiden winner at York earlier in the season and one of six runners for the yard.
Brennan said: “The Gimcrack dates back to 1846 and is a treasured prize. In the last decade, Kevin Ryan has an unrivalled record but other Yorkshire yards will be as keen to win biggest share of the £200,000 kitty.
"Mick Easterby was quoted as saying it is the race he most wants to win and, nearly thirty years on from Wiganthorpe’s success, Karl Burke, Brian Ellison and Mark Johnston are the other local handlers hoping it could be their year.”