While this meeting is all about class, there have been some real turn ups in recent years like Mudawin and Sole Power winning the Ebor and Nunthorpe respectively at 100-1 so the first thing I’d say is that if you fancy an outsider, don’t let anyone put you off.

Finish line at York Racecourse

York 1.55

Talk about a difficult start to a fantastic four days racing. Top weight Tis Marvellous won for the first time since his two-year-old days at the Shergar Cup but will find life harder with 5lb more while El Astonaute continues to run well but is surely in the grip of the handicapper.

Copper Knight would prefer a bit more give in the ground while Culturati needs to bounce back having returned lame on his comeback. You can give them all a bit of a chance but it might be worth going with the unknown in FASHION QUEEN. Her trainer David O’Meara targets half his yard at this meeting and it seems interesting that this is her first run in a handicap when she could have stayed in Listed company. She actually won a Listed race at York last May, beating Kyllang Rock, form which reads well in this race. She bounced back to form last time out in a Group race in France and looks an each-way price.

FENDALE is not without a chance, either. Bryan Smart told me that he slipped coming out of the stalls last time out but he had previously won over course and distance in June. A smart juvenile, he is returning to something like his best.

Flat Racing Trainer - Aiden O'Brien

York 2.25

I’d find it impossible to tip an Aidan O’Brien horse at present so it is quite easy to pass over Broome. Hugely impressive at Galway, it is the fact O’Brien’s current strike-rate is down at 10 %, which is as low as I can remember for some time. He is having winners, even a Group race recently, but they have all been expected.

Broome is in here against some promising youngsters and given the doubts about the form of the yard unless they are among the winners early on in the week, I’ll be happy to pass them over until they prove they are out of the doldrums. It just goes to show that despite the attention to detail at Ballydoyle, you cannot stop nature taking its course.

There are some promising types in here but none more so than WATAN. There was a time when you could ignore runners from the Richard Hannon yard at York as his record was so poor but the younger version is working to rectify that. Watan went for his debut at Goodwood with a tall reputation and lived up to it. So much so there was the talk of a Prix Morny bid but this looks a more sensible target for just his second run. The form is nothing special but it was the manner of the victory which struck, while still looking green.

York 3.00

I’m a little perplexed that Aidan O’Brien runs four in the Great Voltigeur and only one in the Juddmonte as I was convinced he would ensure a good pace in the shorter race but it was not to be. He looked to have the standout runner here in Kew Gardens, already a Group One winner and a scorer over the St Leger trip.

However, the aforementioned form of the yard and the Group One penalty make life difficult. I’m personally not all that sure Cross Counter is as good as he looked at Goodwood given how poorly Dee Ex Bee has been running since the Derby and I’d prefer to back stablemate Old Persian at the prices, as the Irish Derby probably came too soon after his Royal Ascot win.

There is nothing not to like about WELLS FARHH GO, though, and back him for the Leger before this. Now connections have worked out how to ride him, he basically just wants to get on with things, not necessarily making the running just not held up, he looked a different proposition at Newmarket. I’m not concerned about the shorter trip as he had the pace to beat James Garfield over seven furlongs in the Acomb last year.

Beaten by half a length or less

York 3.35

This is undoubtedly the race of the season so far and I hope it lives up to expectations. You can give all eight runners a chance, even the rank outsider Thundering Blue who won a Group Two over this course and distance last time out, however, whether I’d have paid £75.000 to supplement is another matter! Fair play to connections for having a crack, though.

When an Irish Derby winner (Latrobe), Dubai World Cup winner (Thunder Snow) and St James’s Palace Stakes hero (Without Parole) are all available at double-figure prices you know you are dealing in top quality opposition. Leading up to the race my line of thinking was that if the O’Brien team sprang back to life then Saxon Warrior would be the bet and his defeats could have been attributed to the yard being under a cloud.

Unfortunately, they still seem cloudy. Roaring Lion was impressive in the Dante here in May but that form hasn’t really worked out and if I believe Saxon Warrior wasn’t quite at his best in the Eclipse, only seven days after he’d run in the Irish Derby, then he may not have achieved as much as it seemed at the time. However, my Newmarket mole tells me he has been absolutely flying at home and has improved since Sandown.

The level of form POET’S WORD has shown, however, is in a different league. He appeared to need all of the mile and a half in the King George but prior to that, there was a doubt about him staying so dropping in trip should not be an issue. The bookies are obviously giving nothing away given he is the second highest rated horse in the world, though, and pushed into having a bet I think I’d back Benbatl and Without Parole each-way, without believing either are good enough to actually win.


Nick’s Best Bets:

Fashion Queen & Fendale – 1:55 York

Watan – 2:25 York

Wells Farhh Go – 3:00 York

Poets World – 3:35 York


Follow all the action from the York Ebor Festival on our Live Blog Here – https://blog.betfred.com/85253/sport/racing/yorks-ebor-festival-2018-live-blog/