The Duke’s Weekend Preview – Ebor last day

There’s some good racing across the cards on Saturday, but we’re going to focus in on one race at Goodwood and a couple at York.

Let’s start with the Celebration Mile at Goodwood. I would not be at all surprised to see a better performance from Richard Pankhurst, but you couldn’t back him based on his return run at Newmarket. Hathal ran well enough in Group 2 races at Ascot and York last month, but he might prefer softer ground. The two I’ve narrowed it down to are Lightning Spear and Zonderland, who were first and second in the race last year.

Lightning Spear put in a couple of below par efforts earlier this summer but looked something like his best when third in the Sussex Stakes at the start of August. He clearly runs well at the track and he gets the vote ahead of Zonderland, who has been absent since his runner-up effort in this contest last season.

Turning attentions to York, the Gimcrack Stakes at 3pm is a tricky one.

Nobleman’s Nest and Stormbringer both won nicely in their most recent races and are worth noting as horses with potential. Nebo, Cardsharp and Headway all ran in the Richmond Stakes, but that was on soft ground at Goodwood. I think the Coventry Stakes form, run on quicker ground, may be a slightly better pointer, where Headway finished a fair distance ahead of Nebo. Cardsharp was third in the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot and while respected, it is worth noting this is his eighth race in just four months. Headway remains with plenty of potential though and just edges a narrow vote.

The Betfred Ebor Handicap at 3.35pm is typically competitive. With Ryan Moore required in Saratoga to ride Idaho for owners Ballydoyle, Josephine Gordon gets the ride on Dubka. She’s not without a chance after a decent second in a Group 3 at Goodwood. Magic Circle won earlier in the week and is now 2-2 at York but it would be quite the effort to win such a competitive handicap after his exertions just a couple of days ago.

Willie Mullins doesn’t pitch them in to these kind of races with no reason, so it’s worth noting Ivan Grozny, while Seamour is reasonably handicapped on his best form from last year.

The two that interest me the most are Natural Scenery and Flymetothestars. Natural Scenery has far better form on all-weather surfaces, but she has threatened to win off this kind of mark, including in the Northumberland Plate and I still feel she may be able to improve past her current rating. Flymetothestars has a massive chance. Sir Mark Prescott has clearly been targeting this race and after a very creditable third place in the Northumberland Plate, just behind Natural Scenery, this lightly raced son of Sea The Stars, can emerge victorious. I really do fancy Flymetothestars and at odds of around 8/1, he’s a cracking each-way bet.

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