The first £1m Sky Bet Ebor Handicap revolves around Willie Mullins’s Stratum, who was an emphatic winner over two miles at Newbury last time out and is a general 7-2 chance after drawing stall four.
He could well be shorter still if a gamble develops on Stratum, whose owner, Tony Bloom, has won several big handicaps over the last year. Whether Stratum will be seen to best effect at Saturday’s trip, however, is a real concern for anyone taking a short price in such a competitive race.
Nakeeta, last year’s winner of this race, was behind Stratum at Newbury but is 7lb better off and back at the trip that suited him well 12 months ago. He should run well again but may be vulnerable to a late surge from Blakeney Point and Jamie Spencer. Roger Charlton’s runner has some strong form to his name this season and looks to have been prepared with this race in mind by one of the shrewdest trainers in the business.
York 1.50 Lord Glitters has yet to register a win in four starts this season, but he has been in Group One company on two of his three outings and acquitted himself well in both. He was just two lengths behind Lightning Spear in the Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood last time and could have been closer still had Danny Tudhope not been forced to switch around the bulk of the field inside the final quarter-mile. Mustashry, a decisive winner of this race last year, is the obvious danger but this should be the day when Lord Glitters finally gets off the mark for the year.
Goodwood 2.05 Beat The Bank is a winner over track and trip and an obvious favourite after finishing fifth in the Sussex Stakes, but a price of around 5-4 looks short with a potentially top-class performer like Altyn Orda in the field. Roger Varian’s runner returned to her best form to finish second behind the outstanding Alpha Centauri in Group One company last time out and though she is taking on male horses for the first time, 5-1 is too big a price for a filly who also finished fifth in the 1,000 Guineas in May.
York 2.25 Supernova has yet to post a performance that fully justifies his status as favourite for what is often one of the strongest three-year-old handicaps of the season, having beaten four opponents last time out at odds of 4-6. However, his previous defeat of Soto Sizzler in a Goodwood maiden reads well in the light of the runner-up’s subsequent win in a hot handicap at the same track’s big August meeting earlier in the month, beating Making Miracles, Corgi and Proschema, who are all in the field, in the process. He could be a Pattern performer in waiting and 7-1 is a decent price if so, though the list of potential dangers is extensive.
Goodwood 2.40 Several very promising juvenile fillies make the step up to Group company and marginal preference is for Antonia De Vega, whose winning form on debut in a strong race at Newmarket has been franked by the subsequent success of the one-and-a-quarter length runner-up, Zagitova. Dangers abound, however, the most obvious probably being William Haggas’s Magnetic Charm in the Royal colours.
York 3.00 Expert Eye could not quite back up his convincing win in the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot when he lined up for the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood, but he was within two lengths of the winner and seems to be back to something close to his best. This is not the strongest Group Two of the season and while the consistent Suedois will put up some resistance, anything close to Expert Eye’s form at the Royal meeting will probably be good enough and quotes of around 6-4 look very fair.
Goodwood 3.15 The draw has dealt a poor hand to several runners that would otherwise be leading contenders, including Cape Byron, in stall 18, and Mankib, who is wider still in 19 as he attempts to complete a hat-trick. Flaming Spear, another runner in the Tony Bloom colours, has enjoyed better luck in stall nine and can step up on his solid run in the International Stakes at Ascot last time, though as ever at this track, luck in running will still be required.