It’s the bout we’ve been waiting for in York Ebor Festival week. A big hotshot taking on a huge upstart in a recently arranged bout that has been anticipated on both sides of the Atlantic for many. But just who will prevail in the battle between Lady Aurelia and Battash for Nunthorpe glory today?
The bookmakers just give the American King’s Stand winner the advantage and that appears to be about right ahead of their meeting.
Wesley Ward’s filly announced herself to British racegoers when she took apart the Queen Mary last year at Royal Ascot and then took the Morny at Deauville, before putting in a below part showing at Newmarket in the Chevley Park. However she was always better at five furlongs, and her showing in the King’s Stand was simply remarkable, always sitting close to a fast pace and then simply cantering all over a strong renewal, before she drew away under a hand ride, easing down to beat Profitable and Marsha. Had she been pushed out she would have broke the course record that day, and York promises to suit her more as a track.
She’ll need to be very bit as good as she was there to beat Battash, however.
The new sprint kid on the block, Battash has taken off this season, winning his return at Sandown impressively and then absolutely slaying older sprinters in the Coral Charge – including many of the horses who ran in the King’s Stand. He was upped in class again to face Marsha and Profitable in the King George at Goodwood, this time tackling soft ground, but he was simply too quick for his rivals once again and beat them almost as well as Lady Aurelia did.
The race ought to be between the two if they turn up on their best form, with the slower surface here not set to be a major problem for either of them.
If they produce their best, the rest are playing for second. Profitable, the winner of the King’s Stand last season, has finished second by three lengths to Lady Aurelia and then to Battash (two and three quarter lengths), beating Marsha, Washington DC, Take Cover, Final Venture, Priceless, Alpha Delphini, Golddream, and Cotai Glory on both those occasions. Clive Cox’s five year old looks to be the best choice for third.
The SkyBet City of York Stakes (3.00) could well be a Group 2 in name and it’s tricky to know where to begin but it’s certain that Talaayeb would be a lot shorter than 14/1 had she not run since her fourth in the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket. She finished as if something was amiss in the Ballymacoll Stud Stakes over 10 but it’s worth remembering that she was just behind second favourite Daban there and the form of this year’s Guineas looks top notch through the first two and she is worth another chance in a race where nothing can be ruled out.
Willie Mullins and Rich Ricci have fond Knavesmire memories especially in the Lonsdale Cup (2.25) and they are entitled to think big with Thomas Hobson, who romped home in the Ascot Stakes and then was beaten into second in the Queen Alexandra Stakes at the end of the week. He ought to go well but this is a step up in class here and Dartmouth makes appeal. He found huge amounts for Ryan Moore’s urging to get up and win the Lonsdale Cup here two starts ago and backed that up with a fine third in the Hardwicke when he had Dal Harraild behind him that day. This step up in trip shouldn’t be an issue and he ought to go well.
St Michel, a close second in the Belmont Gold Cup, ought to be a big danger whilst Higher Power could bounce back from a poor run in the Gooodwood Cup; Sheikhzayedroad has been disappointing but holds a lot of form that would give him a very big chance from last season here.
At the time of writing nothing makes enough appeal to put up in the opening Sky Bet First Race Special Handicap (1.55) with Godolphin holding a strong hand in the shape of Game Starter and Red Galileo.
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The Convivial (4.15) will be informative as ever and this season’s renewal looks deep. Strictly, the best form belongs to Laugh A Minute, who was second to Acomb Stakes winner Wells Farhh Go on his debut, and he should take the beating if repeating that literally; He was sent off 2/1 to beat him that day.
Capital Flight met with a lot of trouble on his debut at Goodwood when he was second and would be amongst the pick of the newcomers whilst Gabr would probably have won on his debut at Newmarket had he not blown the start. The son of Intello is out of the fantastic mare Spacious and ought to progress through the ranks quickly with this step up in trip really likely to help.
Doswell was a close second to the well backed Being There on debut when he had two next time out winners behind him and is another who ought to go well for John Gosden.
The Nationwide Accident Repair Services Handicap (4.50) doesn’t make a huge amount of appeal but William Haggas loves the Knavesmire and both his charges, Battered and Mojito, ought to go very well here. The pair are last time out winners with Mojito perhaps the more progressive of the pair.
1 pt win Dartmouth, Yorkshire Cup (4/1 Hills, SkyBet, 2.25 York)
1 pt each/way Talaayeb, City of York Stakes (14/1 general, 3.00 York)
1 pt win Gabr, 4.15 York (7/2 general)
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