Ebor Handicap Preview 2019

By Samantha and Luke

Saturday is the final day of the ‘Welcome To Yorkshire Ebor Meeting’. We’ve seen some scintillating performances all week – an excellent clash in the Juddmonte; Mums Tipple making a new meaning to the phrase ‘hosing up’; later on Enable rounding out her English career; Stradivarius became a million bonus winner for the second time and Battaash proved he’s the fastest horse in the world in the Nunthorpe.

The Ebor definitely won’t be as fast as the Nunthorpe but it has attracted an incredibly top class field due to the new incentive of a £1MILLION prize fund. Top weight is rated 113 and bottom weight is 105 so only 8lbs splits them on official ratings. £600,000 goes to the winner and twenty two take their chances.

The John Smiths Cup Stakes is a form line that links a few of the top-rated horses – Red Verdon won, Raheen House came third, Weekender fourth and Kelly’s Dino was fifth. Red Verdon was gelded before running this season and he won a handicap at Doncaster over one mile four before getting beaten in group races. He won over course and distance in that race on the last day and is an established group horse. Raheen House moved from the Brian Meehan yard to William Haggas. He’s ran creditably in good company all through his career and wasn’t beaten far at York last time. Weekender ran in this race last year and led the field at the two furlong pole but Muntahaa caught him entering the final furlong. Since then, he ran in the Irish St Leger and came third. That was a really good run but it took the son of Frankel three more tries to win, which came in a four runner contest at Chelmsford. Kelly’s Dino has a good record with runs-to-wins. He won each side of the York defeat in the Old Newton Cup and in a Handicap, beating a horse who was only beaten narrowly on day three of the meeting.

Frankie Dettori has abandoned Weekender for Ben Vrackie. That horse is lightly-raced but has followed in Baghdad and King’s Advice on the last two occasions. Baghdad won the Duke Of Edinburgh by a short head with him. Very little split them on that day – they were off level weights but in this Baghdad carries 1lbs more. He was a good third in a group three at Glorious Goodwood last time. King’s Advice has been a revelation since beginning his career in the UK in March 2019. He’s ran nine times, winning eight of them, and climbing up the weights from 71 to 108. 37lbs. That’s some training performance by Mark Johnston. On the last day, he had joint top weight with Desert Skyline hasn’t won since landing the Doncaster Cup in 2017 and followed in Stradivarius for the majority of last season. He’s 2lbs lower than that mark now but he has a total of nine lengths to make up with King’s Advice. Visored for the first time.

The Grand Visir and Cleonte won at Royal Ascot. The former won the Ascot Stakes over two and a half miles really well and he’s won at this trip before but it seems he likes further. Sandwiching this win was defeats behind Red Galileo at Newmarket and Withhold at Newbury. Also, in the latter contest was Making Miracles, who’s previously won the Chester Cup, in fourteenth. The Grand Visir gets weight from all of those rivals apart from Cleonte. They go off equals. Cleonte won the Queen Alexandra Stakes over two mileqs five, beating Max Dynamite. He won over this trip in France at three and won the Shergar Cup Stayers over two miles last season. Last time, he was behind the tailed off last Flacon Eight in the Lonsdale Cup and one of his rivals today Mekong. Ryan Moore rides this Frankel son. (Cleonte, The Grand Visir and Mekong are three of six Frankels). He was just under two lengths behind Dee Ex Bee on seasonal debut and ahead of Making Miracles. He was evens in a trail for this but finished last with Raheen House, Desert Skyline and Making Miracles ahead. That was a weird run.

Red Galileo won really well, going away, over this trip in June at Newmarket, with The Grand Visir behind. He ran in the Northumberland Plate last time with Making Miracles seventh and King’s Advice sixth. Desert Skyline was eleventh. He’s got a 5lbs claimer on again in the form of Cieran Fallon, who’s making a name for himself. Withhold is the top weight. He’s ran just three times since October 2017 and all three were winning ones in the Cesarewitch 2017, Northumberland Plate 2018 and the Marsh Cup at Newbury in July. He’s gone from 87 to 113 in that time but, because he hasn’t ran much, the handicapper may not have a hold of him. No horse has won off 9st9 or higher since Sea Pigeon in 1979.

Wells Farhh Go is really lightly raced having ran just eight times. He won on debut and in the Acomb. Three starts later, he won the Bahrain Trophy. He won on 2019 seasonal reappearance over one mile two, beating Barsanti. He completely blew out over two miles in the group one Goodwood Cup and ran off like a nutter. He will probably stay and has a good chance. Barsanti has won twice at this course in 2016 and won a listed race at Ascot in May 2018. That was the last time he won. He’s placed in high company the last few times. Slipping down the handicap from a peak 116 rating.

Raymond Tusk won a listed race in July last year but has been beaten on all starts since. His best run was finishing second in the Sagaro Stakes with Cleonte and Weekender behind. He’ll be a big price. Prince Of Arran was second to Withhold in the Northumberland Plate 2018 and then placed fourth in a group two at Meydan. Since then, he’s been well beaten. The only mare is Dramatic Queen. She won the Bronte Cup over course and distance in May. The second placed horse has since beat her twice and last time’s run was pretty bad. She could go well though.


Mustajeer is a rare runner for Ger Lyons in England and Colin Keane travels over to take the ride. He ran well in this race last year carrying nine stone and eight pounds. This year he carries nine stone and five pounds and comes into the race in good form. He was last seen finishing fifth in the Group 2 Curragh Cup in June. He finished a neck behind Southern France, who has since won the St Ledger Trial. Prior to that he finished third behind Magical in the Tattersalls Gold Cup over an inadequate trip. He sees out the trip well and I think he will go close at a double figure price.

Willie Mullins sends over two runners, True Self and Max Dynamite. Of the two I prefer Max Dynamite with Ronan Whelan in the saddle. This nine year son of Great Journey won easily last time out at Killarney in July. I think he could run into a place at 25/1.


8/10 finished top four last time.

Rules out- Wells Farhh Go, Raymond Tusk, Prince Of Arran, True Self, Red Galileo, Ben Vrackie, Mustajeer, Desert Skyline, Making Miracles, Dramatic Queen, The Grand Visir

8/10 5 or 6 years old

Rules out- Max Dynamite, Baghdad, Barsanti

7/10 12/1 or bigger

Withhold, King’s Advice, Raheen House

7/10 Drawn 15 or higher

Rules out Red Verdon, Mekong, Cleonte

LEAVES- Weekender and Kelly’s Dino


Luke and I are in agreement. We really like MUSTAJEER. He had an amazing chance last year and scraped into fourth at 33/1. He has a lower weight this time and has followed in some really good horses this year so my faith is in him. King’s Advice is the most amazing horse and will be there at the finish. Wells Farhh Go is still improving and Dramatic Queen could out-run her odds.
Lois fancies the chances of Baghdad.


Sky Bet and Symphony Group Strensall Stakes

Zaaki and Space Traveller ran against each other in the Lennox Stakes at Glorious Goodwood last time with the latter coming out on top. Zaaki is already a winner over this trip and Space Traveller is trying it for the first time. The latter is second highest rated to WISSAHICKON. He’s running off a 127 day absence but goes well fresh. He could be pigeon holed as an all weather horse but he’s won twice on this ground so should run very well. Bangkok finished one place better than Forest Ranger in the Sky Bet York Stakes and Bangkok seems to have more scope as he’s only three. Escobar is stepping up from handicaps. He’ll come late and fast.

Sky Bet Melrose Handicap

First In Line has won his last two and has Frankie on board so will have lots of market support. Land Of Oz is a typical Sir Mark Prescott horse and is looking for a five timer but I like the tried and tested EMINENCE . Luke explains his chances…


Eminence runs for Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore takes the ride. This son of Sea The Stars didn’t show much as a two year old, but since coming back this year he hasn’t been out of the placings. On seasonal debut he won at Leopardstown with King’s Vow back in fourth, who also turns up here. Eminence ran a good race at Royal Ascot to finish third in a competitive handicap. He has since been second at Fairyhouse and been third at Goodwood. I think he will run another good race here and at least be in the placing.

King’s Vow runs for Joseph O’Brien and Donnacha O’Brien gets the leg up. The son of Frankel has ran four good races this year with a blip last time out at Galway. He won at Leopardstown in May over one mile and a half easily. I think he will have to improve to reverse form with Eminence.

Sky Bet City Of York Stakes

LAURENS has her doubters but she truly is a special horse. She’s a six times group one winner and got back to winning form in the Prix Rothchild, putting aside two below par runs. The trip definitely won’t be a problem and I look forward to seeing how she runs. Sir Dancealot is turned around quickly after a defeat in the Hungerford just seven days ago. He was below par that day. Mr Lupton could snatch a place at his beloved York and Cape Byron flopped in the Queen Anne after winning a French group one. Eqtidaar hasn’t been seen for 119 days and he’s never quite recaptured the form of his Commonwealth Cup success last year. Shine So Bright hasn’t been seen for 112 days after coming sixth in the 2000 Guineas. He’s the unknown quantity.


Speak In Colours represent Joseph O’Brien with brother Donnacha O’Brien in the saddle. This son of Excelebration was very unlucky at Goodwood last time out when finishing fourth. He ran into traffic before running on well into fourth. That was his first start over seven furlongs and he seemed to see it out well. He has some very good form beside his name. He was fourth in the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot. I think he will run well and he is one of the best chance of an Irish winner on the day.

In the same race Le Brivido, Gordon Lord Byron and Servalan run. Le Brivido has been somewhat disappointing this season. As a three year old he won the Jersey and since hasn’t won. He returns to seven which may bring him back to his best but he has questions to answer. Gordon Lord Byron makes his trip over for a run. He has competed in more races than the first seven in the market put together. He has run some good races this year but I think he may struggle to get close to these on the quick ground. Serverlan runs for Jessica Harrington and would seem to have plenty to find on ratings to get involved here.

Julia Grace’s Rose Stakes

I really hope Mighty Spirit can break her maiden today as shes ran so creditably in all starts to date but she’s getting frustrating to follow. She’s ran well at this track in class one company before. He’s A Laddie and Streamline are interesting having won both their outings and Wonderwork is one from one. Dream Shot followed in Liberty Beach at Sandown in July and could run well but ALLIGATOR ALLEY got within a length of her at Goodwood…


Alligator Alley was an unlucky loser at Goodwood last time out. This Joseph O’Brien trained colt met interference in running and only went down by a length. The winner has since been placed in a Group 2 earlier this week. Prior to that he won his Maiden very impressively at Naas in July. I think he can return to winning ways here.

Sky Bet Handicap

FOREST OF DEAN looks well-in judging by him being joint highest rated but only carrying 9st3 on his back. He won by two and a half lengths last time and is an interesting prospect. Mikmak and Cockalorum could go well at each way prices but the former would want a lot of rain.


The Galway Hurdle winner, Tudor City returns to the flat for trainer Tony Martin. He finished strongly on that occasion to get his head in front close home . Prior to that he was fifth in a handicap at Leopardstown on the flat over one mile and two furlongs. I think he is on a mark that he can win off and will go close.

Sky Bet Apprentice Handicap

Top weight Recon Mission ran well in the Shergar Cup last time but he’s got a giant weight to carry – even with Cieran Fallon taking off three. However, I’m hoping PASS THE VINO can end this run of seconds. He’s dropping to five furlongs for the first time but I think should be suited to it.


Mild Winster makes the trip over to York for the final race of the meeting. This daughter of Burwaaz is trained by Andrew Slattery and ridden by Ben Coen. She ran a decent race in a Listed contest last time out at Naas. Prior to that she won a handicap at Fairyhouse off a mark of 82. I think she will run well and get into the placings at a double figure price.

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