York in August is a wonderful place. The sights of revellers across the Knavesmire enjoying the atmosphere, with the sounds of hoof beats as racehorses flash past the grandstands. As a racing fan, this has everything. For the purists there is top quality racing. And then there is a carnival spirit that makes the experience magical. Enjoy it if you’re going.
Two men to look out for across the week, if you weren’t already – Ryan Moore and William Haggas.
Moore has a good book of rides and it would not surprise me at all to see doubles and trebles from him across the week. It’s often worth siding with Mr Haggas too. His yard are also in solid form, so he should be amongst the winners.
Turning our attentions to the first day and we’ll zone in on two races in particular.
The Great Voltigeur at 3pm may go the way of Cracksman. Sometimes you have to consider what value is. Because it is the start of the festival, firms will try and go bold on Cracksman and prices of odds-against are probably worth taking. He’s got close to winning both the English and Irish Derby and he looks like he has more progression in him.
Before unloading on him though, it’s worth noting Aidan O’Brien has any number of horses to choose from and he’s pitched three in to this one contest. It’s Venice Beach who I think has the most realistic chance of causing an upset. He won the Chester Vase, beating subsequent Epsom hero Wings Of Eagles and despite flopping in that race himself, Venice Beach bounced back with a much better effort in France last time. He’s the choice of Ryan Moore and the harder I look, the more I like the look of him – he is definite value. Mirage Dancer is unexposed and could be the one to complete the tricast.
The Group 1 Juddmonte International is regularly amongst the top-rated races in the world for sheer quality and this year is no exception.
Cliffs Of Moher is one to note at a slightly bigger price. He was runner-up in this year’s English Derby before being hampered in the Eclipse. I think he’s got a better run in him.
Decorated Knight is having a strong year with two Group 1 wins but he has had a long season and didn’t impress in the Eclipse. Ulysses won that race at Sandown and was by no means disgraced in the King George at Ascot, where he just came up against a horse in Enable who had all the allowances and a lot of ability. He has a decent chance in this.
I think Churchill is a very good horse over a mile, but the distance is a slight doubt and he is legitimately held by Barney Roy on the St James’s Palace Stakes form. Basically, it is a very wide open race, but I have to stick with Barney Roy who I think is a class act and can improve beyond his rivals here.