All the waiting is finally behind us as the first day of the York Ebor meeting is here.
Paddington vs Mostahdaf, competitive handicaps, and the return of Gregory will all be on our TV screens throughout the day, an exciting prospect to look forward to.
With last week’s best bet for The Top Three, Arrest in the Group 3 Geoffrey Freer Stakes, proving to be a successful one, here are my three fancies for day one of the York Ebor meeting.
Group 2 Great Voltigeur Stakes (3:00) – Continuous @ 11/4 with BetVictor – 2pt Win
The Group 2 Great Voltigeur has only attracted a field of five to the race, yet it is still a contest I want to bet in and it’s Aidan O’Brien’s sole representative, Continuous, that I’m on the side of at 11/4.
The Heart’s Cry colt has been an interesting prospect for Ballydoyle since his debut victory over seven furlongs in August 2022 as the prominent team has raced him in France twice already; once when victorious in the Group 3 Prix Thomas Bryon as a two-year-old and the other time when a disappointing eighth in the Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club this season.
🇫🇷 The perfect start to Arc weekend! Aidan O'Brien's Continuous stays on nicely to take the Group Three Prix Thomas Bryon at Saint-Cloud under Ryan Moore…pic.twitter.com/Ha3YeImAbz
— Sky Sports Racing (@SkySportsRacing) September 30, 2022
However, it’s his two runs over in the UK that appeal the most on form, as he began this season with a promising third in the Group 2 Dante Stakes at York over 1m2f where he travelled well into the race and maintained that momentum through the line.
Two starts after that, he moved over to Royal Ascot for the Group 2 Queen’s Vase, a race that saw him fall victim to the monster King Of Steel who would subsequently finish third in the Group 1 King George VI Stakes on his next start.
— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) June 23, 2023
Both of those performances were promising in defeat and his form behind good horses certainly stacks up.
Due to Gregory’s three-pound penalty, Continuous is best at the weights on official ratings and thanks to his solidity in form, he gets my vote of confidence.
Class 2 Fillies’ Handicap (4:45) – Designer @ 5/1 with William Hill – 1.5pt EW
Although it’s not the most common thing to see horses win the same competitive handicap two years in a row, Designer is attempting to do that for John Butler in the fillies’ handicap at 4:45.
By Pearl Secret, she was a two-length victor in last year’s renewal of the five-furlong sprint handicap when defeating Pink Crystal, a horse who has improved 15 pounds since.
Wins Irish Thoroughbred Markets 200th Voucher Winner Fillies Handicap at York for John Butler and David Egan pic.twitter.com/t2AikQACen
— Grant James Thomas🧲 (@Grant_Some92) August 17, 2022
Following that success, she positively finished last season with a close fifth in the Listed Rous Stakes – a contest that included top sprinters Manaccan, Annaf, and Korker – before a good effort when runner-up to Fast Response, now rated 103, at Doncaster in October.
This season, the four-year-old was slightly disappointing in her first three efforts of the year, however, she returned to somewhere near her best at Goodwood last time out when fourth in the Coral Handicap won by Lord Riddiford.
During that race, she had traffic issues until the one-furlong pole, but when she saw open space, she stayed on behind the well-handicapped winner.
What a training performance! 😱
Lord Riddiford (8-1) wins the five-furlong @Coral Handicap – the first race of the 2023 Qatar @Goodwood_Races Festival – for a 𝐓𝐇𝐈𝐑𝐃 year on the spin 👀@johnquinnracing's speedster absolutely hoses up under @Atzenijockey pic.twitter.com/v97Dp4HxlV
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) August 1, 2023
Although some of her best form is on softer ground, her victory in this race last year was officially on good, and she ran a huge race in the Palace Of Holyroodhouse Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2022 on a good-to-firm surface.
Good horses act on any ground and I’m hoping today is the correct day to catch Designer.
Class 2 Nursery Handicap (5:20) – Ziggy’s Queen @ 11/1 with William Hill – 1pt EW
Finally, in the concluding race on day one of the York Ebor festival, I’m inclined to take a chance on a Richard Fahey runner, however, it’s not the shorter-priced Blue Prince, as Ziggy’s Queen gets the nod at 11/1.
By Invincible Spirit out of an Exceed And Excel mare, the handicapper gave her an opening mark of 80 after three promising runs so far this season.
The first of which came at Nottingham on June 7th where she had a good educational experience under Oisin Orr to finish a staying on third.
— Cheveley Park Stud (@CPStudOfficial) June 7, 2023
The winner that day, Beautiful Diamond, would go on to finish third in the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot, while the fourth, fifth, and sixth have all come out and won since.
Furthermore, she showed the same level of encouragement on her next two starts at Ripon and Beverley to finish second.
We open at @Beverley_Races with Rocket Money and @CliffordleexLee beating the favourite in a photo finish to win for @karl_burke and owners Curran, Fitzwilliams, Newton, Railton! Rocket Money also lands a @GB_Bonus for that success! pic.twitter.com/ImXX7aqQ3B
— Hannah Ali (@thehannahali) July 7, 2023
Both the third and fourth from her Ripon race have franked the form while the winner of her Beverley performance was successful on her next start at Thirsk.
On handicap debut off what seems like a lenient opening mark, hopefully, today’s step up in trip can see Ziggy’s Queen at her best.