Racing Expert & Columnist
Alex Hammond Blog
Last Updated: 20/08/19 9:58am
Prince Of Arran is weighted to have a big say in Saturday's Sky Bet Ebor, according to Alex Hammond - check out her York thoughts.
There's a star-studded renewal of the Juddmonte International on Wednesday - who do you fancy to come out on top?
I touched on this briefly last week and haven't changed my mind. Crystal Ocean is favourite for the Juddmonte International, but has a tough task with John Gosden's King Of Comedya genuine contender.
Granted, the latter has 11lbs to find on paper with Crystal Ocean (who is controversially) the officially highest rated horse in training, but only 4lbs when you take into account the 7lb weight for age allowance that King Of Comedy gets off his older rival.
Fellow three-year-old Japan is no mug either while stablemate Circus Maximus is no slouch! This race is potentially one of the finest of the season as it combines the best horses (officially) and some fine equines who are knocking on the door of greatness.
If the race were run over 12 furlongs it would play more into the hands of the favourite and Aidan O'Brien's King Edward VII Stakes winner Japan, but over a couple of furlongs shorter, I think Gosden's runner will have the edge.
I don't think the step up to this trip will inconvenience him either and he's a three-year-old very much on the up.
So, I'm hoping the combination of John Gosden and Frankie Dettori will be a potent enough power to topple Crystal Ocean over the mile and a quarter of the York Group 1 with King Of Comedy who is a 100/30 shot with Sky Bet.
Enable is in action in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks, while it's Battaash v Ten Sovereigns in the Coolmore Nunthorpe. How do you see those two races shaping up?
Enable will win. I think if her younger stablemate Anapurna runs, the Oaks winner can finish runner-up and is 10/1 with Sky Bet, so I'm happy to go with that duo for the forecast.
Battaash is an enigmatic horse who has yet to show his best form at York, so you always have that niggle in the back of your mind if you fancy him to win Friday's Nunthorpe.
However, Charlie Hills' star sprinter has a chance to redeem himself in the five furlong Group 1 and he truly seems a reformed character nowadays.
Aidan O'Brien's July Cup winner Ten Sovereigns has got the hang of sprinting and will be a tough opponent, but the three-year-old has to crank things up another gear on the drop down to the minimum trip, which he has never raced over.
Let's not forget Mabs Cross who was just chinned in this last year and her trainer Michael Dods is in good form. At the prices she appeals the most (9/2 third in with Sky Bet) and I'm happy to take a chance on her for that reason.
She also seems to have been forgotten slightly in the run-up to the race. It's a shame for Paul Mulrennan that he has lost the ride to Gerald Mosse, but the Frenchman has won on her before and she won't lack for assistance in the saddle.
Easy one to end with... the winner of the first £1million Sky Bet Ebor will be?
Well, the exceptional prize money for this already ultra-competitive handicap has taken the race to a whole new level and despite the complexities of finding the winner, I can't wait to watch this mile and three quarter heritage handicap.
Sponsors Sky Bet are paying five places, so I think it makes sense to try and find something that can finish in one of those places.
Withhold is definitely on my shortlist, but at 7/1 he doesn't scream each-way value. I can't leave Roger Charlton's runner off my list, though. He isn't the easiest to keep right as he has his bleeding issues, but he's had a wind operation and it seems to have helped him. He has a huge amount of talent and the yard are in great form.
If I like Withhold, then I should also have Prince Of Arran on my list and he's the one I'm going with at a bigger price, although he's now shortened into 20/1 with the sponsors.
He finished second to Withhold in last year's Northumberland Plate and is only 1lb higher in the handicap now (the winner runs off a stone higher mark on Saturday than when winning at Newcastle last summer).
Trainer Charlie Fellowes sent Prince Of Arran down under to run in last year's Melbourne Cup and he ran a blinder to finish third. He had a spin at Goodwood recently, which should have blown any cobwebs away and I think he's capable of running a big race for his Royal Ascot winning trainer.