RACING fan Gaurav Chaddah (@GauravChaddah) offers four selections from the opening day of York racecourse's Ebor Festival.
1:55 York | Sky Bet And Symphony Group Handicap | ITV
The Ebor meeting begins with a 20 runner five-furlong handicap which is no doubt a difficult puzzle for punters to solve.
The horses that dominate the front of the betting are the horses who finished at the front of the Shergar Cup Dash a couple of weeks ago. The race was won by Tis Marvellous, (9/1 Bet365) who starts as favourite but looks vulnerable with a five pounds rise.
Joint favourite, El Astronaute (9/1 Bet365), led for most of that Ascot race before fading into fourth.
He comes here off the same mark and has every chance, having won a similar event over course and distance in May off only three pounds higher however has Rossa Ryan in the saddle, with her claiming three pounds, it means technically the five-year-old runs of the same mark but the draw would be the concern.
Gracious John, (16/1 Bet365) however arrives here after finishing second in the same race, comfortably beating El Astronaute and only a length behind Tis Marvellous and races off the same mark.
With no revised mark, there is no reason to suggest why he can’t turn that form around and confirm the form with El Astronaute, with a stands side draw an advantage too.
2:25 York | Tattersalls Acomb Stakes | ITV
There was a lot to like about how Watan (15/8 Bet365) won his Goodwood maiden, having hung rather badly and looked very green throughout the race BUT still managed to win by TWO or so lengths when drawing clear inside the final furlong.
However, I am failing to get confident on the favourite and more taken by the Mark Johnston trained Persian Moon, (5/1 Bet365) who won a novice over course and distance last month, with the second having come out since and won, both who were well clear of the rest.
The year-old certainly seems like a horse with a progressive profile, having also won a Novice race at Yarmouth by five lengths and can gain a group win here.
Broome should also be respected, the sole representative for Balldoyle, however his maiden win came on soft ground and there are no guarantees on whether the quicker ground will suit for an O’Brian stable that is somewhat out of form, so I’ll be siding with the Johnston horse here.
3:00 York | Great Voltigeur Stakes | ITV
The Great Voltigeur is traditionally seen as a trail for next months St Leder and this is quite a strong renewal of the race. Cross Counter is a short-priced favourite here (13/8 Bet365) and would be my most confident bet on day 1 of the meeting.
Kew Gardens is the ante-post St Leger favourite and has been one of the biggest Ballydoyle improvers of the season. The three-year-old, (4/1 Bet365) is the only Group 1 winner in the race however that means he will carry a five pounds penalty, which can often lead to trouble in group races but still has a chance.
I think there is a lot to like about the way Cross Counter won the Gordon Stakes at Goodwood, thrashing Derby second Dee Ex Bee by over four lengths and broke the track record whilst doing so.
He arrives here with an improving profile and with the Melbourne Cup very much on the agenda, I think it’ll take all the beating here and think the 13/8 (Bet365) is worth taking for the bet of the day.
3:35 York | Juddmonte International Stakes | ITV
Never mind the race of the week, this is possibly the race of the season so far, with seven of the eight runners Group 1 winners.
Poets Word, (6/4 Bet365) is rightfully a short-priced favourite having enjoyed a wonderful season so far, winning first the Prince of Wales’ Stakes at Ascot before pipping stablemate Crystal Ocean for King George success.
The five-year-old carries a penalty but clearly is the form horse however a penalty and a busy season suggests he can be taken on.
Roaring Lion has enjoyed an extended break after winning the Coral Eclipse. It has been a mixed season for the John Gosden trained three-year-old but arrives here with every chance, having looked so impressive over course and distance when winning the Dante back at May. He is 11/4 (Bet365) and must be respected.
You might call me mad but in what is an extremely difficult race I am inclined to give one more chance to Saxon Warrior who is 5/1 (Bet365)
Things have went far from right after winning the Guineas earlier on in the season however he was only bean by a short neck by Roaring Lion in the Eclipse after only running in the Irish Derby the previous week.
After a 45 day break his freshness could help him reverse that form over Roaring Lion and getting weight from Poets Word could be crucial too.
Maybe a heart over head selection but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Warrior back in the winners enclosure.