Nick was right to oppose Aiden O’Brien but a frustrating day one at the York Ebor meeting.

John Gosden - Horse Trainer

It was John Gosden’s [above] Roaring Lion that took the spoils on day one of the York Ebor meeting beating Poet’s Word by 3 1/4 lengths in the Juddmonte International, but who will be the punters be roaring home in the Yorkshire Oaks on day 2?

York 1.55

Both the Gimcrack on Friday and the Lowther on Wednesday have really suffered in terms of class this year due to their proximity to the Prix Morny in Deauville last weekend. Form-wise there are two standout candidates for the Lowther, Aidan O’Brien’s Fairyland, who was third in the Albany to Main Edition, a race which has worked out incredibly well, and John Gosden’s ANGEL’S HIDEAWAY.

The Irish runner finished just in front of Gosden’s filly at Royal Ascot but since then there is no doubt Angel’s Hideaway has improved. She was, of course, the horse who cost Frankie Dettori quite a bit of money by hanging right in the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes, resulting in a 10-day ban for the Italian. The winner, Pretty Pollyanna, was a Group One winner on Sunday so that form is decent while Main Edition has notched another decent win too, albeit she obviously didn’t run her race at Newmarket. Since then Gosden’s filly has run at Ascot, winning comfortably at Group Three level, if looking a little wayward again, so as long as Dettori tracks a path to the rail she should be ok.

While all this has been going on Fairyland has been stuck in her box, presumably struck down by whatever has been affecting the Ballyodyle runners and while a couple ran ok on Wednesday, none looked like winning.

Strictly on form, the others have to improve a great deal to get involved.


Four Places EW

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York 2.25

Owner Steve Parsons, better known as the “Clipper Logistics guy” loves nothing more than winners on the Knavesmire and hopefully, SECRET VENTURE can provide him with one.

To be honest the race looks an absolute minefield, with so many falling into the lightly-raced and promising bracket. Secret Venture is surely one of those, having won his sole start to date in impressive fashion. Royal Ascot was mooted after his Leicester win from Blyton (who has won since) but Kevin Ryan tends to take his time with his juveniles these days and doesn’t like to rush them. It also would not surprise me in the slightest if Parsons had indicated his preference to come to York rather than Ascot, too, to give his charge more time to mature.

Strictly on form, he has a good bit to find with a few but Ryan has very few first time out two-year-old winners these days so the fact this one knew enough to win back in May bodes very well indeed.

Ryan’s other runner, Celebrity Dancer, is undoubtedly talented too, and should not be ruled out of the equation but he definitely has a wayward streak.


Five Place EW

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York 3.00

You can file this race in the impossible category. It is fiendishly difficult to have a strong view as there are so many you can make a case for.

I think it’s fair to say AFAAK brings the strongest, recent form to the party and at Goodwood, he certainly didn’t run like a horse with whom the handicapper had caught up. He won a race similar to this at the May meeting before finishing second in the Royal Hunt Cup off a 6lb higher mark. Stepped up to 10 furlongs last time out at Goodwood he ran a typically Goodwood race, meeting plenty of trouble. He did run on, though, suggesting the trip wasn’t a problem, and he’s only 1lb higher than Ascot.

Seniority won the big handicap over a mile at Goodwood and has to rate a major player back up in trip but he’s 6lb higher and wherever he finishes stablemate Original Choice should not be far away.

Throw in John Smith’s Cup third Kynren, the consistent Get Knotted and the frustrating Firmament and you could literally back half a dozen.


York 3.35

It is difficult to pick a highlight of this week but surely the Yorkshire Oaks has to be towards the top of any list.

William Haggas’ Irish Oaks winner Sea Of Class leads the betting after her last-gasp success across the water. James Doyle rightly earned plenty of plaudits for a brave ride at the Curragh, beating the Oaks winner Forever Together, however, while she is entitled to continue improving, it is difficult to know just how good she is.

The same cannot be said of Laurens. Already a three-times Group One winner. The question mark over her is the trip, as she steps up to a mile and a half for the first time. However much horses look like they are going to stay, you never really know. It may be the case that Laurens can just maintain a gallop over 10 furlongs quicker than the rest, without wanting to go any further. There is also the question mark about the form of the three-year-old fillies, which William Haggas has admitted himself might not be the strongest.

With that in mind John Gosden’s CORONET rates as the bet. I remember when she won the Middleton Stakes over 10 furlongs in May, Gosden said this would be her best chance of a Group One, against her own sex at her favourite trip. Since then she nearly beat the smart Waldgeist in France and finished third in the King George, all of which is better form than the two youngsters in the race.

It is difficult to make a case for Magic Wand given how disappointing she was in the Irish Oaks while Dermot Weld’s Eziyra could possibly bounce just two weeks after making her comeback from a lengthy layoff.



Nick’s Best Bets:

Angel’s Hideaway – 1:55 York

Secret Venture – 2:25 York

Afaak – 3:00 York

Coronet – 3:35 York


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Beaten by half a length or less