THE Ebor meeting at York is a week away and one of the most eagerly anticipated races of the season lies in wait. The International could see Churchill, Barney Roy and Ulysses lock horns. Throw in the Great Voltigeur and Cracksman v Capri and next Wednesday’s opening day will be graced with a stellar cast. I’m also looking forward to the possibility of a locally-trained victor in the shape of Ulshaw Bridge who would be a popular winner.
Wensleydale, and Middleham in particular, is this writer’s favourite part of the world. The impressive medieval structure of Ulshaw Bridge lies two miles south of Middleham near East Witton and takes traffic over the River Ure. Trainer James Bethell is based near Middleham so success for Ulshaw Bridge would be fitting. And the horse has a serious chance. He has already won at the Knavesmire on his second start when taking a decent quality maiden. He then went to Chester where he was woefully outpaced on the tight track and found himself stone last turning into the straight. However he fairly flew in the final two furlongs to finish a close third. He appears to be crying out for seven furlongs so the £90,000 Tattersalls Acomb Stakes looks the race for him although he also has an entry in the richest nursery in the land, the £70,000 Betway-supported contest over six furlongs that concludes the same card. The The Ebor Festival is the highlight of the racing and betting calendar in August. Only those who play dirty dancing will have as much fun.
Bethell said: “I think that just the course [Chester] being so sharp just caught him out a bit. But when he hit the straight he flew very fast. Another half a furlong – well, even less than half a furlong – he’d have won, I think.”
We think he’d be better suited by seven furlongs but I’m possibly going to put him in the six-furlong nursery as well – just in case there’s something very smart in the Acomb. But we’d like to go for the Acomb if we can.”
The colt, owned by Geoffrey Van Cutsem and Partners, is in good shape ahead of whichever opening day assignment he contests at York.
“He is well now and won’t do a lot of fast work,” said Bethell. “He’ll probably have a little spin towards the end of the week and that’s it. But he is quite an easy horse to train.”
Barney Roy appears a decent punt at 10/3 to gain revenge on Ulysses for his Coral-Eclipse defeat while Irish Derby winner Capri seems overpriced at 8/1 in the Voltigeur.
The clash between Lady Aurelia and Battaash on the Friday is mouth-watering while in the Ebor itself Desert Skyline (20/1) and Seamour (25/1) might be worth an each-way punt.