THE EBOR has always brought York’s big week together through its name, unerring popularity and proud past and now there’s an unprecedented prize fund of £1million up for grabs this weekend.
A couple of years ago this famous old contest dating back to 1843 was turning into just another staying handicap on the Knavesmire, but it’s now entering an exciting new chapter.
Reinvented as Europe’s most valuable staying race, York’s top brass were rewarded last year with a near-perfect outcome as two of the three highest-rated entries dominated the finish.
With a cool £600,000 on offer to the winner it will be the highest class handicap ever run in Britain and, unsurprisingly, looks ultra competitive.
One of the money horses this week has been RAAHEEN HOUSE, backed into 8s from 12s with Carrigill’s and aimed at this contest by William Haggas, who loves to return to his native county to land big spoils.
But he’s only been first past the post twice in 17 starts and, at just 3lb lower than at his peak, punters may want to look for value in this big field 22-runner handicap.
Market leader KING’S ADVICE will bid to maintain his remarkable progress before stepping up to Pattern company.
The five-year-old has won eight of his nine races in 2019, with his rating rising from 71 to 113, and Mark Johnston’s charge heads the ante-post betting with Carrigill’s at 6/1.
Bruce Raymond, racing manager to owner Saeed Jaber said: “He just keeps winning and obviously seems to get better. Joe (Fanning) says when he’s riding him, he’s travelling better in his races now, like a decent horse. Joe’s ridden him to all his wins here.
“The Ebor is a tough race. I wouldn’t like to say he’ll win, but he’s been an improving horse. It’s the first £1million Ebor and it’s quite exciting. I know we’ve got to move him up to Group class soon, but we have to take this on the way.”
Roger Charlton’s WITHOLD surprised many with his victory in the Marsh Cup at Newbury in July having not run since October last year.
Weak in the market beforehand, he looked a sitting duck up the home straight after racing from the front, so it was an impressive effort to carry 9st 10lb to victory.
That run should have him primed him, but one slight negative is that he was forced to miss the Northumberland Plate – his intended early-season target – having had a known bleeding problem.
That did not stop him from producing a career best at the Berkshire venue and, although he has been raised 6lb to a career-high rating of 113, that may be enough to stop him going close.
The step back down to 1m 6f is a potential question mark for a horse with an abundance of stamina, but he is not short of pace and it should not be a hindrance.
The last time BARSANTI ran in a double-figure field, he was a strong finishing half-length second to Idaho in the 2017 Hardwicke and recording a Racing Post Rating of 118, a figure that has been matched by a couple of Saturday’s contestants but bettered by none. He’s won in a big field at York where his form figures are 1212 and Roger Varian’s seven-year-old looks too good to miss as an each way punt at 25/1 with Carrigill’s.
Irish raider MUSTAJEER finished fourth last year, his hold-up style resulting in Ger Lyons’ charge having to navigate his way through the field, but he stayed on strongly for fifth in a Group 2 at the Curragh last time out and looks another each way must at 25/1.