Four horses to watch at the Ebor Festival at York

York Ebor Festival: We pick out five horses that could light up the four-day Flat meeting.
York Ebor Festival: We pick out five horses that could light up the four-day Flat meeting.

We are counting down the days until York's Ebor Festival, which kicks off next Wednesday, and pick out four horses that can light up the Knavesmire in one of the showpiece festivals of the entire Flat calendar...

Mohaafeth - Juddmonte International Stakes

Aidan O'Brien will fancy bagging a seventh Juddmonte International Stakes with the superstar colt St Mark's Basilica, who is a red-hot favourite for the Group 1 feature on day one of the Ebor Festival on August 18. However, there could be another three-year-old that shines bright on the Knavesmire and that's the William Haggas-trained Mohaafeth, who is looking to bounce back from a shock defeat last time out.

Hugely progressive this season, Mohaafeth racked up a sparkling four-timer during the first half of the season, which culminated in a fine victory in the Group 3 Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot. But, his winning streak came to an abrupt end when he was beaten by Bangkok in the Group 2 York Stakes at York last month, and he's set to return to the track next week to try and make amends.

In the aftermath of that York event, Haggas was quick to put a line through that run, as he felt the son of Frankel was unable to deal with the slow pace and the colt also found himself well behind. So, with a quick gallop expected in the Juddmonte then Mohaafeth could be seen to much better effect, and at 12/1, at the time of writing, he could be a worthy challenger to the red-hot Ballydoyle favourite.

Wednesday 18th August - Juddmonte International Stakes
Mohaafeth silk



Desert Dreamer - Lowther Stakes

An authoritative 16/1 winner of the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot, Andrew Balding's Sandrine showed that success was no fluke as she bounded to glory in the Duchess Of Cambridge Stakes at Newmarket last month. Now, the unbeaten filly is set to head to York for the Lowther Stakes on day two of the Ebor Festival, but she will have to give 3lbs to all her rivals in the Group 2 contest, and that could leave the door open.

One that could prove to be a thorn in her side is the Stuart Williams-trained Desert Dreamer, who chased Sandrine home in the aforementioned Duchess Of Cambridge, and has been a real top class performer at the highest level this season. Following that Newmarket second place, Desert Dreamer was then just touched off by Zain Claudette in the Princess Margaret Stakes at Ascot a couple of weeks ago, so she will be finally looking to get her head in front in Pattern company in the Lowther.

Available around the 8/1 mark, at the time of writing, Desert Dreamer has proven to be a solid yardstick in premier two-year-old fillies races at Group level, and Williams has spoken of his will for her to face off with her rivals in the closing stages, as she has found herself away from the winner in her last two runs, so she's been unable to get into a head-to-head battle. There's no doubting she has something to find on Sandrine, but she warrants respect, and should certainly be thereabouts in the Lowther.

Thursday 19th August - Lowther Stakes
Desert Dreamer silk

Desert Dreamer


Stradivarius - Lonsdale Cup

There's a real element of intrigue about the staying division following Trueshan's runaway win in the Goodwood Cup a few weeks ago, but the king of the marathons Stradivarius is set to try and recapture his crown of premier stayer at the Ebor Festival, as he lines up in the Lonsdale Cup. Having been set for a heavyweight clash with Alan King's Trueshan at Goodwood, John & Thady Gosden elected to scratch Stradivarius due to the soft going, and it's now York that will welcome the seven-year-old.

A dual winner of the race (won in 2018 & 2019), Stradivarius is bidding for a hat-trick of Lonsdale Cups, but having only finished fourth in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot back in June, the legendary son of Sea The Stars is looking to get back in the winner's enclosure at York. The bookmakers are struggling to split Trueshan and Stradivarius in the betting, with the pair around the 5/2 mark, but the former will have to give 3lbs to his main market rival, and that could prove vital for Stradivarius to get back on the winning thread.

Gosden's team will be hoping the rain stays away from York, as they would be more than happy to declare him a non runner again, should it come up too soft, but here's hoping the rain gods stay away and we can witness one of the most exciting duels of the entire Ebor Festival.

Friday 20th August - Lonsdale Cup
Stradivarius silk



Keep Busy - Nunthorpe Stakes - NON RUNNER

One of the highlights of the Ebor Festival is the Nunthorpe Stakes, as the quickest horses from across Europe congregate at the five-furlong start to battle it out for sprinting glory. Following the retirement of dual winner Battaash there will be a new name on the illustrious roll of honour in 2021, and the star duo of Suesa and Golden Pal are the two fighting it out at the head of the betting.

Spearheading the home challenge is the Tim Easterby-trained Winter Power and the Archie Watson-trained Dragon Symbol, but one that could run a mighty race at huge odds is John Quinn's Keep Busy, who is available at 25/1 at the moment, and the speedy four-year-old could outrun those lofty odds, if taking her chance on August 20.

A fine fifth in the King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot, Keep Busy bounced back to winning ways with a Listed win at Ayr. Unable to land a blow in the Coral Charge at Sandown, she was then no match for Suesa in the King George Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, as she finished fifth. But, it's a return to York that could see her recapture her best form, as she was a gallant second in a handicap event at last year's Ebor Festival, and while she will need a career best to figure in the Nunthorpe, she could be one lurking in the lower echelons of the betting that could be decent each-way value.

Friday 20th August - Nunthorpe Stakes
Keep Busy silk

Keep Busy

Live Your Dream - Ebor Handicap

Back in 2012, Saeed bin Suroor trained Willing Foe to glory in the Ebor Handicap at York, and it could be that time again for the Godolphin trainer to claim staying handicap glory once again with Live Your Dream, who looks tailor-made to run a huge race in the valuable contest. Three wins from four outings this season, Live Your Dream has rocketed up the ratings with some very taking performances, and his last success came in the bet365 Trophy at Newmarket which immediately saw his odds for Ebor slashed in the aftermath of that success at Flat HQ.

Readily pulling away from the classy duo of Global Storm and Amtiyaz in that contest, Live Your Dream was handed a 7lb rise for that victory, but a current mark of 101 still may not be enough to halt his progression up the staying ladder, and while he heads the betting around the 8/1-9/1 mark at the moment, he still looks to be excellent value.

Jam-packed with progressive and proven stayers, the Ebor is one of the showpiece races of the entire Flat season, but in Live Your Dream there could be a real special stayer, who can use this event as a springboard to bigger and better things in Group company later in his career.

Saturday 21st August - Ebor Handicap
Live Your Dream silk

Live Your Dream

Today's Racing Naps
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