Weekend Racing – Ebor Day Four

The feature race on the final day of York is the Ebor Handicap one of the great races of the flat season run over a mile-and-three-quarters. There were light showers forecast for the track on Friday which might negate the need for the racecourse executive to water overnight and the likelihood is that the ground will remain on the fast side of good.

Brighton & Hove Albion owner Tony Bloom is unlikely to be able to take in both the Ebor which starts at 3.40 and the Seagulls’ trip to Anfield this evening which kicks off at 5.30. Bloom owns Stratum (3.40) who has long been my fancy for the race after his impressive win at Newbury last time – albeit from an 8lbs lower mark.

That form is rock solid with the sixth, seventh and eighth all subsequent winners and the hope is that jockey Robert Winston can get a good tow into the race from stall four as one of the likely front-runners Teodoro is drawn just inside him in three. The selection is 7/2 with BetVictor who are paying each way five places, but I feel he will drift out to about 9/2 on the day.

Despite the steadier of 9st 12lbs I feel Weekender (12/1 at BetVictor) should not be dismissed and it would not surprise me to see Frankie Dettori try to get to the lead on the top-weight and then try to stack them up before making his bid for glory at the top of the straight.

The Group 3 Strensall Stakes is a cracker with last year’s winner Mustashry and dual course winner Threading much respected but this, hopefully, will be the day that everything falls right for Lord Glitters (1.50).

The selection is 7/4 at BetVictor and should have the race run to suit with Chief Ironside likely to make it a decent test of stamina. David O’Meara’s five-year-old was, arguably, unlucky not to go very close in the Gp 1 Sussex Stakes last time when not getting the run of the race at a key stage. Any overnight rain would be a positive and he certainly deserves to get his head back in front.

The winner of this afternoon’s Melrose Handicap will automatically be given a place in next year’s Ebor and I hope that spot goes to Berkshire Blue (2.25) who won under “Magic Man” Joao Moreira at Ascot on Shergar Cup day last time from a 5lbs lower mark.

Jason Watson’s 3lbs claim negates more than half that rise, and this lightly-raced colt still looked green when getting up close home last time. Andrew Balding has his string in very good form and this 8/1 shot with BetVictor (five places) gets the each way vote.

Expert Eye (3.00) finished just in front of Lord Glitters when second in the Sussex Stakes, having pulled hard in the early stages of the race. There is little pace in today’s City Of York Stakes which is a concern and I wonder if Frankie Dettori will take the bull by the horns if no one else wants to make the gallop. The selection is 7/4 with BetVictor and is the one to beat as long as the race doesn’t become tactical.

In the last Main Desire (5.20) puts her unbeaten York record (2 from 2) in the apprentice handicap for Michael Bell. Sara Del Fabro is a 7lbs claimer who lacks the experience of several her rivals, but I hope she can get her filly back on track after a couple of moderate runs.

Maid Up is likely to go off favourite for the March Stakes at Goodwood a race in memory of the great John Dunlop. I am a big fan, however, of the lightly-raced Ben Vrackie (3.50) who has 10lbs to find on official figures, but looks a potentially useful staying type and he gets the narrow vote.

I’m looking forward to seeing Atty Persse (3.30) step up to 1m 6f at Newmarket for the first time. The selection finished second off a 3lb lower mark at Ascot last time and James Doyle again keeps the ride.

Beringer is a horse I have a lot of time for but he may struggle to give 10lbs away tomorrow to Hamlul (3.00 Goodwood) who did us a favour at Beverley last time when scoring easily from a 7lbs lower mark.

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