The feature race of the meeting is the Sky Bet Ebor Handicap raced over one mile five furlongs and there is a prize of £311,250 to the winner. Stratum has been the long time favourite but it was touch and go whether Willie Mullin’s charge would actually get in. He has and will carry the saddle cloth with the number nineteen on it for the race. He’s a really consistent horse and he will most definitely stay and handle any conditions. Mullins also has Whiskey Sour in the line-up. He’ll have no issues with the trip as he has won over two miles over jumps but there is question marks about whether he is too high in the handicap as the highest flat winning mark 86 and he’s now running off 103.
Dylan Mouth won over course and distance last time out and has beaten a few of these in the past. Scotland was third behind him on that occasion but seems to be running at a trip entirely inappropriate for him since landing his only victory in a mile race. He looks really high in the weights despite Jason Watson taking off 3lbs and he won’t stay in my opinion. Time To Study was fourth in that race, beaten nine lengths and he has won over this trip before but is 3lbs higher than his last win and may prefer softer ground. Platitude was ahead of Time To Study on that occasion and is a Listed winner over this trip and has ran well over further in the past. Muntahaa beat Dylan Mouth in a Group Three in 2017 and that was the last time he won a race. He has won a Listed race over this distance but has been unplaced over it since.
Blakeney Point was a close second over one mile six furlongs at Glorious Goodwood last year and he has won over two miles so there are no worries about his stamina but he was behind Montaly in the 2017 renewal of the Chester Cup. Montaly won the Lonsdale Cup last year so his stamina is assured as well and seems to be returning to form after some poor runs so Blakeney Point may be able to reverse the form. My Reward is a Listed Handicap winner and has been behind Blakeney Point and Dylan Mouth on a few occasions.
Fun Mac is drawn right on the end of the stalls in 22 and he was third over one mile seven furlongs in a race he won the previous year. He was behind Saunter at Doncaster in November and since Saunter has won his last two starts and is a winner over one mile five furlongs. He has a good chance but would prefer it if it was on the softer side of good.
Mustajeer, Crowned Eagle and Teodoro are the unknown quantities in this race as they are yet to try a trip above one mile and a half. The first mentioned horse is a winner over a mile and a mile and two furlongs and has a good weight and draw and can use Crowned Eagle, who is draw next to him, to get a good passage across to sit behind the leaders as the other horse sometimes leads. Crowned Eagle is a progressive four year old and has a decent weight to help him. I’m quite surprised Teodoro is running in this as there is a Group Three at Windsor which would’ve been suitable. He won a group three last time out by making the running and he has a big chance if he stays but only if he’s ridden more conservatively than then.
Lord Yeats and Nakeeta are the only horses who ran in last year’s edition of this race. Nakeeta won it for Ian Jardine and Callum Sheppard to partners him again in this. He ran really well to finish fifth in the Melbourne Cup but hasn’t figured since. He is coming back to form and is 3lbs higher than last year. Lord Yeats was unplaced behind Vazirabad last time out and was beaten twice by Order Of Saint George before that. He stands his ground usually in good company and is a good each way shot.
Sea The Lion is a very lightly raced seven year old and has won five of his nine life time starts. He is coming her looking for a four timer after wins at Leopardstown, Cork and the Curragh over one mile four. The margins haven’t been the biggest but he’s given suggestions that he’ll stay. Weekender has top weight and won over one mile six on seasonal debut and was beaten six lengths in third by Magic Circle and was a neck behind Marmelo over this trip. He has a good shot on bare form but he will struggle carrying top weight. Mountain Bell is a mare and has barely any weight on her back with Andrew Breslin taking off 5lbs. She won over two miles in December and will stay.
Where will the pace be?
Teodoro (Drawn 3) made the running last time out to win but because of the step up in distance he may be ridden more reservedly. Lord Yeats usually goes from the front too and has a middle draw so if he jumps well he could go and bag the rail. Blakeney Point is drawn on Teodoro’s inside in 2 and sometimes leads so will be able to bagsy the rail from the start to go the shortest way round. Weekender (Drawn 13) has been forced to make the running on some occasions but will probably be ridden prominently.
-Largest weight in past ten years has been 9st9lbs (Rules out Muntahaa, Weekender and Dylan Mouth)
-More often than not two digit draws (Rules out Time To Study, Blakeney Point, Montaly, Teodoro, Saunter, Platitude, My Reward, Stratum and Mountain Bell)
-One seven year old has won in the past ten years (Rules out Fun Mac, Sea The Lion, Nakeeta and Scotland)
-Usually 12/1 or bigger (Rules out Crowned Eagle and Whiskey Sour)
-Fourth or better last time out (Rules out Lord Yeats)
Stratum has the consistency which prepares him well for this race. Willie Mullins is good with his flat horses so both of his seem to have a good chance but Whiskey Sour is on quite a high mark. Muntahaa is a classy horse and has a good shot but I’m a big fan of MUSTAJEER’s chances. He is yet to race over this far but his dam stayed two miles four well and his sire is the same sire of Melon (Rated 165 over jumps) who races over two miles plus. He may prefer softer ground but he has a good weight. He usually runs behind the leaders and is drawn in 20 so I think if Gary Carroll can follow Crowned Eagle, who has a good chance himself, to the to the inside, he’ll be in a perfect position to mount a challenge when push comes to shove. I’m hoping for a big run from him to defy his odds and seems a good each ways shot in an impossible contest to decipher.