Friday 9 August


ED BETHELL is ready to aim debut winner, Oviedo,  at the Group 3 Tattersalls Acomb Stakes on Wednesday, the opening day of Sky Bet Ebor Festival at York Racecourse.

Owned by Ms Fiona Carmichael and Ballylinch Stud, the well-bred colt by Lope De Vega out of a Galileo mare looked a smart prospect when he loomed up and delivered by a length and a quarter in a seven-furlong novice at Doncaster three weeks ago.

Middleham-based trainer Bethell said: “He took it all in his stride. He always worked like quite a nice horse but you just never know until they go and kind of do it on the racetrack. He quickened up like a nice horse – hopefully the future looks bright for him.”

Oviedo has since pleased at home and Bethell is hoping the two-year-old’s next assignment will be the £150,000 Group 3 on the Knavesmire.

He is one of an eye-catching 19-strong entry that includes Nostrum, another who made an exciting debut when triumphing at Sandown, and fellow first-time-out winners such as Godolphin’s Local Dynasty and the Peter Chapple-Hyam trained Defence Of Fort. 

Bethell said: “He has come out of the race at Doncaster really well. He worked last Saturday against a couple of horses. He worked really nicely, a lot better than he had done prior to his novice. And he’s in good shape, I think.

“We’ll really find out how good he is on Wednesday if we decide to run him. It looks a fancy race, on entries anyway. I hope that there might be a little bit of rain forecast on Monday and Tuesday.”

Bethell has a couple of other entries on day one of the Festival in the shape of Sandbeck and Rock Of England. The David Armstrong-owned Sandbeck has been most progressive this season, winning three of her four starts. She was last out at Doncaster on July 1 when landing a five-furlong handicap by a length and a half. The three-year-old Ardad filly is now on course for the Celebrate ITM’s 200th IRE Voucher Winner Fillies’ Handicap over the same distance as her last two outings.

Bethell said: “She’s been working really well and this has kind of been her summer target since her last run. She goes nicely. Hopefully it will be nice ground for her.”

The trainer has others to run during the week and had a positive word for Reel Rosie, who – all being well – will contest the mile and a quarter Assured Data Protection EBF Fillies Handicap next Friday.

Like many Yorkshire-based trainers Bethell is keen to have horses to run at the Sky Bet Ebor Festival. And he added: “I just hope one of them hits the bullseye!”


Thursday 11 August


BRILLIANT Baaeed is on course to take his place in next Wednesday’s Juddmonte International Stakes at York after he was one of 8 entries to stand their ground at today’s confirmation stage.

The unbeaten superstar who carries the famous Shadwell colours, is nine from nine ahead of York’s £1million Group 1, which forms part of the QIPCO British Champions Series.

Next week’s engagement will see the four-year-old Sea The Stars colt step up to an extended mile and a quarter distance for the first time.

Trainer William Haggas said: “I think he’ll stay it, no problem. Whether he’s better, I don’t know.

“We planned to go to the Juddmonte very early on. A four-year-old miler of his quality, the programme is very straightforward in the early part of the season. It’s Lockinge, Queen Anne, and then the Sussex.

“And then it’s sort of do you go for the Moulin or the Jacques Le Marois or do you go up in trip? We put him in the Irish Champion just in case he needed more time between the Sussex and the Juddmonte. And I’m pleased to say everything is on schedule to go on next Wednesday.

“He’s had lots of publicity recently. He’s had lots of cameras this week and he takes it in his stride, much better than his trainer!

“He’s got a good temperament. Most of the good ones are a bit tricky. He’s just a nice person to have around.”

The new distance for Baaeed will bring in fresh rivals to test him and his jockey Jim Crowley. But Haggas is positive about his stable representative’s prospects of performing well on the long home straight of the Knavesmire. He added: “It feels right to me. You’d think that he can just sit and wait and let it all unfold and then if his turn of foot is there…

“I think Jim has a lot of confidence in the horse and trusts the horse to quicken. It’s really exciting; it’s strange to talk about it because he just does it and he’s done it every single time.”

Newmarket-based Haggas hails from Yorkshire and loves to have winners at the Sky Bet Ebor Festival.  But he said: “Everyone makes a big deal of me wanting to win at York – I want to win everywhere.

“We beat the prize money drum the whole time and York are actually fantastic at putting their hand in their pocket. Every race is valuable in its own right and the Juddmonte is the £1million race at the Ebor Festival. So,  of course we want to win it.”

Haggas could be triple-handed in the race with last year’s Juddmonte International Stakes runner-up, Alenquer, and July’s Group 2 York Stakes second. Dubai Honour, also standing their ground at the confirmation stage today.

Haggas said: “Dubai Honour wants slow ground. If it’s good or good to soft he’ll run and so will Alenquer. That’s against Baaeed.”

Other potential opponents include Point Lonsdale and High Definition represent Coolmore from the yard of Aidan O’Brien, as well as defending champion, Mishriff trained by John & Thady Gosden.  Another who is due at York is classic winner, Native Trail, successful in the Irish 2,000 Guineas in the blue of Godolphin, handled by Charlie Appleby. The impressive line up is completed by Sir Busker, who won over course and distance in July in the G2 Sky Bet York Stakes for the Kennet Valley Thoroughbred team and trainer, William Knight.


Tuesday 9 August


JAMES Ferguson is hoping Deauville Legend can triumph in the Sky Bet Great Voltigeur Stakes at York, as part of a plan that could include a tilt at the Lexus Melbourne Cup.

Deauville Legend has been a star for the Newmarket-based trainer and is on course to line up on the Knavesmire in Wednesday 17 August’s mile and a half Group 2, that offers record prize money of £200,000.

The gelded son of Sea The Stars was second just under a fortnight ago in the Group 3 Gordon Stakes at the Goodwood Qatar Festival where he gave 3lb in weight to the winner (now the St Leger favourite) as a result of his success in the Group 3 Bahrain Trophy, earlier in July, at Newmarket.

He’d previously run at Royal Ascot with  the Sky Bet Ebor Festival now  his latest destination, on a tour of British racing’s major summer occasions.

Ferguson is positive about Deauville Legend’s prospects in the Great Voltigeur, a contest  in which there are a handful narrowly ahead of him in the ante-post betting with the sponsor, including Godolphin pair Secret State and Walk of Stars.

Ferguson said: “He’s recovered from his (Goodwood) race well – the intention is still to run in the Voltigeur.

“I think he’s in great nick and looking forward to him running. He’ll probably do one more piece (of fast work) – probably on Thursday.

“Two in the betting that will be ahead of him are Walk of Stars and Secret State. He has already beaten Walk of Stars and there’s an argument for him being as good if not better than Secret State – we’ll see.

“He has progressed with every run. I think he’s a nice horse and am looking forward to see what he can do in the future. He’s a gelding so he can’t run in the Leger – this is probably a stepping stone to the Melbourne Cup.”

Deauville Legend’s fine and progressive season mirrors that of his jockey – Daniel Muscutt, as Ferguson added: “Danny is a big part of our team and hopefully we can give him his first Group 2 winner.” 

The Sky Bet Ebor Festival, the glittering showpiece of York Racecourse’s season, commences on Wednesday 17 August and runs through to Saturday 20 August, inclusively. The first three days all contain a Group 1 highlight before the Saturday highlight, the famous Sky Bet Ebor itself.


Monday 8 August


JAMES Tate delivered an upbeat progress report on sprint star Royal Aclaim ahead of her Group One appearance in the £500,000 Coolmore Wootton Bassett Nunthorpe Stakes at York on Friday 19 August.

The unbeaten three-year-old is the current market leader for the five-furlong Group 1 and her Newmarket-based trainer believes she is worthy of that status.

Royal Aclaim has won all three of her career starts, including a two-length triumph in the John Smith’s City Walls Stakes, a Listed course and distance success on the Knavesmire almost a month ago.

Tate said: “The Nunthorpe has been the plan for her since she won the City Walls. And, to be frank, we have just been counting down the days.

“Obviously she had an easy few days after she won and then she has been in full work for quite a while now.

“She’ll do a little bit of strong work this week and then we’ll ease off her in the last few days before the big race. Everything has gone very well so far touch wood.”

Royal Aclaim, rated 108, is among the least experienced in the entry for the race but Tate is not overly concerned about that. He added: “She was by far the lowest rated in that Listed race that she won and she is unbeaten.

“We’ve had a good few sprinters in our time – Far Above winning the Palace House, Invincible Army was a Duke of York winner and Group-1 placed – and we think she’s pretty smart. I would like to think she goes to the Nunthorpe with a favourite’s chance.”

Among those that Royal Aclaim could face is Little Big Bear, a brilliant seven-length winner of the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh last Saturday.

The Sky Bet Ebor Festival, the glittering showpiece of York Racecourse’s season, commences on Wednesday 17 August and runs through to Saturday 20 August, inclusively. The first three days all contain a Group 1 highlight before the Saturday highlight, the famous Sky Bet Ebor Handicap. 

Friday 5 August


Successful at Goodwood for trainer Emma Lavelle, Master Millner is expecting to continue his appearances at major festivals when running at York.

The two-mile Heritage Handicap with £100,000 on offer on the opening day is just too tempting for connections of the six-year-old to pass up.

Already a course and distance winner, sponsors Sky Bet , will be taking note.


Tuesday 2 August


Locally trained, The Platinum Queen could be supplemented for the Group 1 Coolmore Wootton Bassett Nunthorpe on Friday 19 August,  after breaking the juvenile course record at Glorious Goodwood.

The Richard Fahey-trained filly was an impressive winner of the Alice Keppel Fillies' Conditions Stakes, leading from the front to record a comfortable four-length victory.

The result confirmed a step up in grade for the filly but has left owners Middleham Park tempted to throw her in at the deep end.

"The time she clocked was very, very special," said syndicate manager Tom Palin. "Now is the time we can start stepping her up into Pattern company and just starting to have more of a look under the bonnet. She'll definitely go to York. There's the Listed Roses Stakes (on Saturday 20 August) which I imagine she'll be a short-priced favourite for and it's whether we go for the Nunthorpe.

"I would say it's the million-dollar question, but it's not, it's the £40,000 question! We've got Hollie Doyle pencilled in at this stage to ride her. You're not going to find many multiple Group 1-winning jockeys who can do 8st 2lb, which it will be on the day."


Friday 29 July


The Charlie Hils trained Khaadem put his hand up to be a leading sprinter when winning the G2 King George at the Qatar Goodwood Festival. The trainer observed that his charge seems to be getting faster with age. A tilt at the Coolmore Wootton Bassett Nunthorpe was indicated as the next step. Former stable star, Battaashhas dominated both the race andthe division  in recent years but his retirement means a new sprint king can be crowned.

A number of those vanquished in the 5f dash on the Downs could re oppose on the Knavesmire, with Raasell keen to go one better. All will become clear on Friday 19 August.


Wednesday 27 July

The Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup on the Friday of the Sky Bet Ebor Festival at York Racecourse has been earmarked for star stayer Stradivarius.

Retirement had been mooted by Stradivarius's connections, however following his neck defeat to Kyprios at Goodwood on Tuesday, his owner Bjorn Neilsen has indicated that the Group 2 could be his next target.

Stradivarius has won 20 of his 35 races and 18 at Group level, including a record 6 wins on the Knavesmire, with three in the 'Lonsdale'.

Gosden snr believes he retains all his enthusiasm and said on Racing TV:

"He ran a superb race. Our only frustration was we ended up on our own towards the inner and at his age he likes something to run with, but it was a wonderful run.

"As long as he's happy and enjoying his racing and training, there's no reason [to finish]. He's an eight-year-old entire and enjoying his life. We'll let Mr Nielsen know how he has come out of it in the coming days."

Bjorn Neilson, commented on ITV Racing:

"We are not saying goodbye yet after that! He ran today with his normal enthusiasm and there is no point stopping here right in the middle of his season.

It was a great performance by him today. I'd say York would be on the cards, as the long straight suits him, so there's a good chance he could go there".

Tuesday 26 July


Following a powerful win by Baaeed in the Group 1 Sussex Stakes at Goodwood this week, the next stop for the champion miler is a step up in trip to 1mile2 1/2 in the Group 1 Juddmonte International on the Wednesday of the Sky Bet Ebor Festival at York next month (17 August).

Baaeed's trainer William Haggas said via the Racing Post:

"The plan is to step up to a mile and a quarter (at York next month). He's got the speed and the class. I'm looking forward to it as he should enjoy it".