IT seems five minutes ago that virtual silence reigned across York racecourse after Arabian Queen lowered the colours of Derby winner Golden Horn in the 2015 Juddmonte International. The fairy-tale success of Mecca’s Angel and the immense training performance by Joseph Tuite to prepare Litigant for Ebor glory were other highlights of last year’s terrific York Festival. The stature of this meeting continues to grow. It is the highlight of a packed August racing diary and, thankfully, the Knavesmire looks set to be graced by decent weather this week. So, good fast ground, and no excuses.
The International has attracted the outstanding older horse in training: Postponed, a real 1m 4f specialist who will bid to repel horses with a more natural affinity to go 1m 2f. Coral Eclipse winner Hawkbill and Highland Reel are formidable rivals while Derby runner-up US Army Ranger will add spice if he lines up. I don’t expect another Arabian Queen-style shock but Almodovar (33/1) and Wings of Desire (14/1) do offer each-way value.
IDAHO deserves to win a big prize and should take a sub-standard Great Voltigeur on Wednesday while stablemate SEVENTH HEAVEN at around 6/1 looks a decent price in the £340,000 Darley Yorkshire Oaks to outstay the more fancied Found.
Two daughters of Frankel should dominate the Lowther Stakes. Fair Eva looks pretty special but is too short at 4/7 so QUEEN KINDLY (8/1) is a well priced alternative.
The Nunthorpe looks to be the highlight of the meeting with the possibility of Acapulco and the juvenile Yalta giving the race a different dimension. Take Cover at 12/1 looks overpriced but the brilliant LIMATO has been supplemented and can follow up his July Cup victory.
The £280,000 Ebor, Europe’s richest handicap, is devilishly difficult to unravel. Seamour has been well backed but will not want the ground too firm, ELIDOR won well at Glorious Goodwood and was third in this race in 2014. He represents solid each-way value at around the 14/1 mark and will relish the fast conditions. He has a 4lb penalty but he has a bit of class and was beaten just a length by Dartmouth in the Ormonde Stakes.
The other handicaps at the York Festival are, not surprisingly, fiercely competitive but OCEANE stands out on Wednesday after an unlucky defeat at Glorious Goodwood.