With Royal Ascot, The July Festival and Glorious Goodwood now in the books, this year’s summer flat season meanders into its final month this week and to a meeting now considered one of the biggest on planet racing. Ladies and gentlemen, raise a glass to the Ebor Festival 2022.
As four days of elite racing take place on the Knavesmire at York from Wednesday, the big names and thronged fields have assembled.
The crème de la crème of not only British and Irish stables but also a sizeable international presence will vie for the big prizes of the week, most notably the Juddmonte Stakes, the Nunthorpe and of course, the Ebor on Saturday.
So how are the favourites shaping up?
Sky Bet Great Voltigeur Stakes, Wednesday, 15:00
On paper, the first favourite of the meet looks to come in the shape of heavyweight duo of Charlie Appleby and Will Buick on Secret State.
In the colt’s maiden track season, the 3yo lost his first race at Newmarket back in May but has not looked back since, going on a run of four wins in a row.
Here, Secret State goes over 1m4f, the same winning trip from the King George V and last month at Goodwood when victorious over Maksud by over a length.
A horse that simply goes from strength to strength, Buick’s main rival looks to be Deauville Legend who seeks revenge for Royal Ascot, however, Secret State looks good at 2/1 to make it five from six.
Juddmonte Stakes, Wednesday, 15:35
Of the four days in Eboracum country – the name the festival takes from – there is surely no bigger favourite than arguably the best horse around right now: the mighty Baaeed.
Still undefeated in nine, the Juddmonte will be the 4yo’s tenth outing but interestingly, a first at York for William Haggas and Jim Crowley.
Untouchable over 1m, the slightly bigger trip of 1m2f will be Baaeed’s first big test up against resilient stayer Mishriff but won relatively comfortably in the colt’s three races in 2022. The last time pushed was some 10 months ago by Palace Pier at Ascot when Baaeed won by only a neck.
At 4/9 also, Baaeed has gone off at a shorter price before and that might prompt a little more caution from punters given the last two races at Goodwood and Royal Ascot, where late efforts were required. With that said though and even at the longer distance, surely Baaeed will be top of multiple bet slips this week.
Yorkshire Oaks, Thursday, 15:35
Thursday big draw from a punter’s point of view looks to be with Alpinista.
Looking to join a pantheon of legends to have won both this and The Oaks at Epsom – most recently last year with Ryan Moore on Snowfall – Sir Mark Prescott’s ride holds one of the biggest winning streaks of any horse this week, having won the last six races over 1m4f. Even in the two races prior Alpinista came runner-up and before that won comfortably at Salford in August 2020.
Unbeaten since April of last year then, the 5yo again looks a force to be reckoned with and at 15/8 will go off a well-backed favourite.
Lonsdale Cup, Friday, 14:25
Could this finally be the perfect swansong for Stradivarius?
Beaten by Kyprios on the last two occasions, the 8yo came home ahead of Trueshan at Goodwood last month. With no Kyprios in sight here, it looks to be a two-way scrap.
Looking to win the Lonsdale Cup for a remarkable fourth year on the bounce (Ebor was cancelled in 2020 due the pandemic) Stradi has dominated this race since beating Count Octave in 2018.
His last win came here back in May, on a Knavesmire he holds no less than six wins on; York is arguably this horse’s favourite track. But a word of caution.
Trueshan has come out on top three times before – twice last October. Furthermore, before Goodwood, the 6yo gelding had won five on the spin. After such a dry and hot summer the ground will likely be firm, but rain is expected to soften the going – music to the ears of Hollie Doyle.
With that said, it will have to pour buckets for Trueshan to be in his element. With Andrea Atzeni keen to prove the Gosdens correct in their choice to replace Frankie Dettori, Stradivarius currently at evens is surely still one of the bigger favourites this week.
Nunthorpe Stakes, Friday, 15:35
Finally, of the fillies to take note of at this year’s Ebor, The Platinum Queen might be the standout favourite to claim Friday’s main event.
Now into just the third month of her career, Richard Fahey’s 2yo was hugely impressive at Goodwood only weeks ago, bouncing back from something of a no-show in the Queen Mary.
Winning on debut at Ripon, Oisin Orr rode to victory at York back in June by a similar margin of victory by almost 4l but for the first time here however, Hollie Doyle will take over.
The Platinum Queen’s pedigree and reputation is building rapidly and with another win this week at 5/2, her star will rise further. Royal Acclaim is currently priced shorter but may have to play second fiddle.