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Competitive Ebor Handicap on the cards at York Racecourse
11:26am Saturday 25th August 2012 in Sport
THE 169th running of Betfred Ebor Handicap promises to be as competitive and as gruelling as ever on the rain-softened ground at York Racecourse this afternoon, writes Jack Keene.
In this latest chapter of the centuries old story, the stamina-sapping finish could conceivably be fought out by two horses that have snuck in at the bottom of the weights.
Sir Mark Prescott is a genius when it comes to plotting a route to equine glory, and it’s possible the Newmarket based trainer could be on the same path this afternoon with 5-1 favourite, Motivado. The four-year-old comes to York on the back of an impressive performance at the Glorious Goodwood festival, surging clear of the rest of the field over today’s one mile six furlong trip. He is unproven of ground softer than good and wouldn’t want the ground to come up too testing, but nonetheless he could potentially be thrown in off his current handicap mark.
Qahriman managed to gain a place in the field by virtue of another horse dropping out; however he is a strong contender in this group. Trainer Luca Cumani and jockey Kieren Fallon have teamed up with two handicap winners at York this week already. Qahriman won over this trip at York last time out in similar ground to that which he’ll encounter today. That was a strong performance on the face of it and he could overcome his draw in stall one to get involved in the finish today.
At the opposite end of the weights scale, Camborne represents top connections in the shape of John Gosden and William Buick and he arrives in Yorkshire with a strong chance. He absolutely hacked up at Royal Ascot in June over one mile and four furlongs, so the main question mark today has to be whether the extra two furlongs, in what is guaranteed to be a strong pace, will be ideal for the four-year-old. Double figure draws have had the best record in this race over recent years, and Camborne is drawn well in stall 14. He will carry 9st 7lbs today, which in itself is a negative, as no winner of this race has carried more than 9st 4lb since 1979.
French raider Hammerfest could prove a good proposition in these conditions. He will get the one mile six furlong trip having proven himself over further, and soft ground holds no fears for the five-year-old gelding. He chased home Camborne at Ascot, when a mile and a half wasn’t ideally enough of a test for him. His extremely wide draw, in stall 21, could prove problematic for jockey Jim Crowley.
One horse at a big price who would welcome further rain today is former Northumberland Plate hero, Tominator. Reg Hollinshead’s gelding loves soft ground and will gallop and stay all the way down the straight. He has run reasonably well this season and comes to the track after a two month break. If ready to go and in top form, this dour stayer could prove a valuable each-way bet at around 18-1.
With the exception of Qahriman, Crackentorp is the only course winner in the rest of the 19 runner line-up. At 25-1 he runs for Yorkshire based trainer Tim Easterby and could very well enhance his excellent record of three wins at York. He enjoys testing conditions and has won over two miles and three furlongs in a hurdles race, so he has an abundance of stamina. If Crackentorp were to win, it would be a popular result for Yorkshire, who have enjoyed five locally trained winners this week so far.