Charlie McCann of BetVictor.com previews the opening day of the 2017 Ebor meeting
The highlight of today’s opening day of York’s flagship Ebor meeting is the mouth-watering Group 1 clash of the generations in the £1m Juddmonte International over ten furlongs.
I am surprised that Godolphin or Ballydoyle have decided not to use a pacemaker in the contest, however, and I am concerned about the draw in stall seven for Barney Roy (3.35) who could easily get trapped wide around the long home bend if there is no pace in the race. The selection finished a nose behind Ulysses in a vintage Eclipse Stakes at Sandown last month and meets the winner on 3lbs worse terms with the revised weight-for-age.
That was the colts first start at ten furlongs and only his fifth career start, so he is open to significant improvement with his trainer suggesting he was the best horse he had trained in the build up to the race. The Richard Hannon-trained colt pulled hard when landing the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot on his penultimate start and James Doyle faces a difficult task getting cover if it becomes a tactical event. That said he is a horse of rare potential although he is not guaranteed to beat his Sandown conqueror Ulysses who gave the great filly Enable a race until his stamina gave way in the King George VI Stakes over 12f last time on soft ground.
Barney Roy is BetVictor’s 11/4 second favourite behind Guineas winner Churchill who heads the market at 5/2 with Ulysses 3/1 and Derby runner up Cliffs Of Moher 6s. Churchill is reported to be working the house down in County Tipperary but I am a big Barney Roy fan although lack of pace and the draw tempers confidence in what is THE race of the season so far.
It is not all about the Juddmonte though with the Group 3 Acomb Stakes a fascinating 7f juvenile contest. Lansky attracted plenty of support at Windsor on debut and it will be interesting to see if the market again speaks in his favour, but we passed on a good word for Dee Ex Bee (2.25) at Goodwood on debut and the Mark Johnston-trained colt again gets the vote.
The selection made all on that occasion and has a good draw in stall one this afternoon although he won’t get as easy a time of it up front with Beatbox Rhythm and Jazeel in the field. The selection is 9/4 to win on the Knavesmire this afternoon at BetVictor and 25/1 to win next year’s 2000 Guineas – the switch to faster ground should not be an inconvenience.
Cracksman (10/11) is a shade of odds on at BetVictor for the Gt Voltigeur and, obviously, sets the standard having finished placed in both the Epsom and Irish Derbies. The lightly-raced Mirage Dancer is fascinating trying 12f for the first time, but I am going to give an each way shout to Atty Persse (3.00) who was never travelling at Newmarket last time having had a very hard race to win at Royal Ascot on his penultimate start.
That success was only gained in handicap company, but he had looked a most progressive colt prior to Newmarket and I will always forgive horses a bad run on the July course. At 18/1 (3 places) with BetVictor he is an each way recommendation.
My two against the field in the concluding nursery are Green Fortune and Tathmeen (4.50) with marginal preference for the latter who could not have been more impressive when scoring at Newbury last time. That 6L success was gained on soft ground but he is bred to be as effective on fast ground – note he still holds entries in many of the big end-of-season juvenile Group races.
The Geegeez Geegee (5.00) carries a 6lbs penalty for scoring at Newton Abbot last week but that is offset by the 10lbs claim of Fergus Gregory. The Olly Murphy trained gelding has been raised 13lbs for that success so it extremely well handicapped this evening, and he is taken to give his young conditional a first win over fences.
The 2m Handicap Chase is a cracker with many chances, but back on fast ground I hope to see Vosne Romanee (5.30) return to winning ways having chased home a progressive Paul Nicholls novice at Newton Abbot last time.
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