The York Ebor Festival continues on Friday with an action-packed card including the return of Battaash in the Nunthorpe Stakes. Here we preview all the big races...
With no Stradivarius in the lineup this year, the first place to look is Nayef Road, who’s got closest to the superstar stayer in his two outings this season, most recently only beaten a length in the Goodwood Cup. The drop back to two miles there made a significant difference and the only real question mark is how well he would cope if the ground was to come up bottomless.
With the aforementioned Stradivarius sitting this out, John Gosden relies on Enbihaar, who made a mockery of the opposition - albeit thin on the ground - in the Lillie Langtry last time. The step up in distance here shouldn’t be an issue, however, like Nayef Road, she’s yet to show that she can put her best foot forward in softer conditions.
There are no such ground concerns for Andrew Balding’s Dashing Willoughby, who won the Queen’s Vase last season in tough conditions with Nayef Road back in third. The son of Nathaniel is two from two this year including victory most recently in the Henry II Stakes. He makes plenty of appeal at around 9/2.
- Dashing Willoughby
- Nayef Road
Minzaal heads the market for Owen Burrows following an impressive victory at Salisbury, however Richard Hannon’s Mohawk King, second in the betting here, did beat him on debut at Newbury and can be expected to come on a lot for that.
Yazaman has been the perennial bridesmaid this season, finishing second in the Richmond, July and Windsor Castle Stakes, he’s by far the most experienced in the field but there’s every chance that Lauded - a neck behind him last time - will get closer here with some expected cut underfoot.
Ubettabelieveit’s victory in the National Stakes was wildly impressive for all that it wouldn’t have been the strongest contest and he has to be high on the shortlist. Whether conditions might go against him here is a definite question mark though - he finished fourth on good-to-soft on debut.
Perhaps the most confident selection is another Balding-trained runner, Mystery Smiles. He went off odds-on on debut at Windsor and while it took some time for the penny to drop, when it did, he wheeled away with ease. His follow-up performance at Chester, beating Zamaani, marked him out as a future Group performer and he looks sure to go well.
- Mystery Smiles
- Mohawk King
A race that - as ever - revolves around Battaash. The 1/2 market leader has carried all before him this season, as he did in this contest last year. He looks a much more relaxed horse in 2020, making it hard to leverage the argument that the extended preliminaries at York will impact his winning chance - it’s incredibly difficult to see him being beaten.
He does face a new foe this time round in Art Power, who looks very much to be the future of the sprint division but he’s only 2lb better off and has a huge amount to find on this steep step up in class. Similar comments apply to the other three-year-old in the lineup, A’Ali, who has impressed when winning multiple Group contests this season but still looks short of matching Battaash.
The remainder of the field are largely all Listed-level sprinters and while the likes of Que Amoro and Moss Gill could run into a place, this really does look like one for the market principals.
- Art Power
*Odds correct at time of publication