The York Ebor Meeting gets underway this Wednesday with the feature race on day one of the four day meeting being the Group One International Stakes, a race which is supported by the Group Two Great Voltigeur Stakes. There is also three handicap races plus the Group Three Acomb Stakes for two year old colts over seven furlongs to look forward to.
The International Stakes has been dominated by Irish trained horses for the last three years, with the Duke Of Marmalade and Rip Van Winkle winning for trainer, Aidan O’Brien in 2008 and 2010, while in between those victories came Sea The Stars in 2009.
This year’s renewal looks a straight fight between O’Brien and Henry Cecil who, between them, account for five of the six runners in the race. O’Brien saddles three runners including the 5/6 favourite, Await The Dawn, whilst Henry Cecil runs both Midday and Twice Over, who are second and third in the International Stakes betting and whilst Await The Dawn, who has won his last four starts is justified favourite, it would be no surprise to see either of Cecil’s runners upset the odds.
O’Brien also has the favourite for the Great Voltigeur Stakes in Seville, who is Ballydoyle’s principle challenger to win the Doncaster St Leger next month. He was second in the Irish Derby in June and also finished second behind Meandre in the Group One Grand Prix de Paris last month. His main challengers appear to be the much vaunted but lightly raced Sea Moon from the yard of Sir Michael Stoute and the Queen’s Vase winner at Royal Ascot, Namibian, who is trained by Mark Johnston. All three are being aimed at the St Leger for which the Great Voltigeur is a well known trial but 5.4 jolly Seville looks the one to beat.
The Group One Yorkshire Oaks is the feature race on Day Two whilst juvenile fillies will look to impress in the important Group Two Lowther Stakes over 6 furlongs, also on Thursday.
The Yorkshire Oaks is one of the best Fillies races of the season and sees the best three year old fillies go up against older rivals and this year’s race looks set to include 2011 Irish Oaks and 1,000 Guineas winner, Blue Bunting, who will take on the Jim Bolger trained, Banimpire, who finished second a short head behind in second place in Ireland to the Godolphin horse in July. Also lining up will be Misty For Me from the O’Brien stable, who will also run Wonder Of Wonders, who was third in Irish Oaks, while another Irish Raider in the form of Jessica Harrington will be taking on the first three home that day with the fourth placed Laughing Lashes. English Trainer Ed Dunlop intends to take them all on with his dual 2010 Oaks winner, Snow Fairy, who is said to be in great form after her last run at Goodwood but will have to concede weight to her younger rivals.
There will be no more popular winner on Day Two should Angels Will Fall win the Lowther Stakes for trainer Barry Hills with the legendary trainer retiring on Thursday before handing over the reins to son Charlie.
The Group One Nunthorpe Stakes over five furlongs is the feature on Day Three and has the Mick Easterby trained Hoof It at the head of the market. He will be making his Group One debut after winning the Stewards Cup at Goodwood last month and is a two time winner this season on the Knavesmire course and looks certainly the one to beat despite the huge step up in class.
The fourth and final day sees the running of York Ebor Handicap, the race which lends its name to this ever popular meeting. This race often sees the wits of the flat trainers pitted against those from the National Hunt and although National Hunt trainers have landed the spoils for the last two years, this year’s renewal is dominated by runners from flat stables with the antepost favourite currently the Saeed Bin Suroor trained, Lost In The Moment, second in the Group Two Goodwood Cup last time out and on a favourable mark sets the standard.