York’s Ebor meeting is always one of my favourites. Not only have I had some memorable days there in the past, there’s always such a lovely, relaxed atmosphere. They call it the ‘Ascot of the North’ and I totally get that as the racing is always first class too. This year will be particularly special as we were behind closed doors 12 months ago. They are completely sold out so it really will be a case of business as usual. I’ve got three rides to look forward to on the opening day, so here are my thoughts on those and the other feature races…
2.25pm Tattersalls Acomb Stakes
No ride for me in the Acomb Stakes which appears to have attracted a small but select field. Dubawi Legend was really impressive on his debut but meets two smart colts in Noble Truth and Ehraz. There won’t be much between the trio with marginal preference for Charlie Appleby’s colt. He was really good at Newmarket and is bred to be top class.
3.00pm Great Voltigeur Stakes
Aidan O’Brien saddles three in the Great Voltigeur Stakes and it will be interesting to see how High Definition gets on having disappointed in Ireland last time. Frankie rides Sir Lucan who is likely to step forward again from Goodwood in first-time cheekpieces. However, they are all likely to struggle to beat Kemari who was so good at Royal Ascot. He has to carry a penalty, but I think he is up to that.
3.35pm Juddmonte International Stakes
There was a late shuffling of the pack in the Juddmonte International as Aidan O’Brien now saddles Love in place of the injured St Mark’s Basilica. The race now has a more open look with Mishriff now looking the one to beat. That said, the presence of the improving filly Alcohol Free (pictured below) makes things very interesting. If she does stay, she will be very dangerous and she gets my vote.
After watching the first four races from the weighing room, I get my first chance in the two mile handicap aboard Scaramanga for Paul Nicholls. He won nicely for me at Newbury last time (pictured below) and should be competitive again despite the 7lbs rise. He won with a little in hand that day and I’m hoping of a good run. Obviously Irish raider Arcadian Sunrise catches the eye and don’t rule out the ultra-consistent Elysian Flame.
VENTURA FLAME 4.45pm
I’ve never ridden Ventura Flame before, my mount in the fillies’ handicap. Looking at her form she is really consistent and five furlongs on a decent surface looks right up her street. She has won off a higher mark in the past and I’m looking forward to riding her. The top two Tweet Tweet and Tenaya Canyon look the two to beat.
I’M A GAMBLER 5.20pm
It’s always nice to pick up a ride for Mark Johnston at this meeting and I ride I’m A Gambler for him in the finale. He’s been busy having won at Catterick on Monday and slips in here with a penalty. This will obviously require plenty more, but he comes here on a hat-trick. Hopefully he will be over those exertions from earlier in the week and can take his chance. Richard Hannon’s Bosh sets the bar pretty high.