Sky Bet Ebor Preview Interviews
York's four day Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival will reach its climax on saturday when a maximum field will go to post for the One million pound Skybet Ebor, the richest handicap ever run in the Northern Hemisphere.
The race has attracted three runners from Ireland and will be run over the famous one and three quarter mile distance.
The favourite for the race is King's Advice, one of three in the race trained by Mark Johnston.
The five year old goes into the race with a record of seven wins in his last nine starts and Joe Fanning, who has never been beaten on him takes the ride.
He's shared his pre race thoughts with Mike Vince.
40 years after his father saddled Sea Pigeon to one of the great wins in York's Ebor Handicap, Tim Easterby hopes to claim the million pound race with Wells Farhh Go.
A year ago he finished fourth in the Great Voltigeur Stakes at this meeting and was talked of as a big St Leger hope before injury forced him out.
He's been targetted at this race all year and Easterby's stable jockey David Allan will ride.
Tim Easterby believes he has a real chance of landing the big prize for one of racing's great dynasties. Listen here.
KING'S ADVICE TOPS BETTING AS MAXIMUM FIELD DECLARED FOR £1-MILLION SKY BET EBOR
Ante-post favourite King’s Advice faces 21 rivals as he goes for his ninth win of 2019 in the first £1-million Sky Bet Ebor at York this Saturday, August 24.
The historic 14-furlong contest is the richest Flat handicap ever run in Europe and takes place on day four of the Welcome To Yorkshire Ebor Festival.
King’s Advice (Joe Fanning, 9st 9lb including 4lb penalty), the 13/2 market leader with Sky Bet, has met with defeat once in nine starts since joining trainer Mark Johnston and goes into Saturday’s contest on the back of valuable handicap victories at Newmarket's July Festival and Glorious Goodwood.
There has not been a winning favourite of the Sky Bet Ebor since Purple Moon in 2007, while no top-weight has triumphed since the great Sea Pigeon shouldered 10st in 1979.
This year’s top-weight Withhold (Roger Charlton/Jason Watson, 9st 10lb, 15/2 with Sky Bet) posted a front-running victory in Newbury’s March Cup Handicap last month and the six-year-old is no stranger to success in heritage handicaps, having previously landed the 2017 Cesarewitch at Newmarket and the 2018 Northumberland Plate at Newcastle.
Raymond Tusk (Richard Hannon/Jamie Spencer, 9st 8lb, 25/1) is one of two contenders alongside Wells Farhh Go (Tim Easterby/David Allan, 9st 9lb, 14/1) to have competed at G1 level on their latest start.
Raymond Tusk has not raced since finishing seventh in the G1 Gold Cup at Royal Ascot. A G2 winner in Italy on his final start in 2018, the four-year-old’s earlier efforts this season included a second to Dee Ex Bee in the G3 Sagaro Stakes at Ascot and a third behind Crystal Ocean in the G3 Al Rayyan Stakes at Newbury.
Tim Palin, director of racing at Middleham Park Racing, said: “Raymond Tusk has been freshened up since the Gold Cup and his preparation has been good.
“He probably didn’t see out the trip at Ascot and the opposition was probably a bit too hot for him too.
“Stepping back into handicap company over this trip will really suit and he goes there with a fighting chance.
“I think a big-field race like the Ebor could suit and the 14-furlong trip should be ideal.
“It is a wide-open contest, but we are very hopeful of a good run."
Mark Johnston is one of several trainers with multiple contenders. The Middleham handler’s three-strong team also includes Duke Of Edinburgh Handicap scorer Baghdad (P J McDonald, 9st 6lb, 14/1) and Chester Cup winner Making Miracles (Jason Hart, 9st 3lb, 33/1).
John Gosden enjoyed a one-two in the 2018 Sky Bet Ebor and Britain’s champion trainer is aiming to repeat those heroics with last year’s runner-up Weekender (Graham Lee, 9st 8lb, 16/1) and Ben Vrackie (9st 5lb, 10/1), the mount of Frankie Dettori.
Fellow Newmarket handler William Haggas, who has an excellent record at the Welcome To Yorkshire Ebor Festival, saddles G3 winners Raheen House (James Doyle, 9st 8lb, 8/1) and Dramatic Queen (Daniel Tudhope, 9st 4lb, 25/1).
Irish trainers have won four of the last 10 editions of Sky Bet Ebor and this year’s challenge is made up of Mustajeer (Ger Lyons/Colin Keane, 9st 5lb, 16/1) and two runners from stable of Willie Mullins.
Mullins, who plundered the Sky Bet Ebor spoils in 2009 with Sesenta, the last mare to win the race, is represented by G2 scorer Max Dynamite (Ronan Whelan, 9st 7lb, 20/1) and multiple Listed-winning mare True Self (Donnacha O’Brien, 9st 7lb, 14/1).
Three-time Sky Bet Ebor-winning trainer Sir Michael Stoute saddles Mekong (Ryan Moore, 9st 7lb, 14/1), while Godolphin handler Saeed bin Suroor, successful with All The Good (2008) and Willing Foe (2012), runs Red Galileo (Cieren Fallon (5), 9st 6lb, 25/1).
Last year’s G1 Lexus Melbourne Cup third Prince of Arran (Charlie Fellowes/Stevie Donohoe, 9st 7lb, 25/1) comes into the race having finished fifth in the 12-furlong G3 Glorious Stakes at Goodwood on August 2.
Fellowes said: “Prince Of Arran is in good form and the Ebor has been the long-term plan - the two races we have focused his year around are the Ebor and the Melbourne Cup.
“I was pleased with his performance at Goodwood over a mile and a half on a track we know he didn’t really like. He is a much better horse in a nice, flat galloping track.
“That race should put him spot on for the Ebor, as he travelled great and just got tired at the end.
“A mile and six is his trip and the big field should also really suit him. A good strong pace will also help as he loves getting in and amongst horses.”
Red Verdon (Ed Dunlop/Shane Foley, 9st 9lb, 20/1) returned to winning ways over course and distance in the G3 John Smith's Silver Cup on July 13, when he had Raheen House, Weekender and Kelly's Dino (Karl Burke/Ben Curtis, 9st 6lb including 4lb penalty, 20/1) in behind.
The 22 runners are completed by Barsanti (Roger Varian/Andrea Atzeni, 9st 4lb, 25/1) and Desert Skyline (David Elsworth/Gerald Mosse, 9st 5lb, 25/1), plus Cleonte (Andrew Balding/Silvestre de Sousa, 9st 2lb, 25/1) and The Grand Visir (Ian Williams/Jim Crowley, 9st 2lb, 25/1), who were both successful in staying races at Royal Ascot this year.
There are two reserves – Cypress Creek (Aidan O’Brien, 9st 2lb, 25/1) and Proschema (Dan Skelton, 9st 1lb, 25/1) – who can come into the race if there are any non-runners by 1pm tomorrow, Friday, August 23.
Michael Shinners, Racing PR Manager at Sky Bet, commented today: “We couldn’t be more delighted with the quality of the first £1-million Sky Bet Ebor, with a superb field set to line up on Saturday.
“King’s Advice continues to head our market at 13/2 as he bids to continue his remarkable sequence and we will be paying down to eighth place, so there are plenty of each-way opportunities in a wide-open race.”
Sky Bet Ebor – Sky Bet odds: 13/2 King’s Advice; 15/2 Withhold; 8/1 Raheen House; 10/1 Ben Vrackie; 14/1 Baghdad, Mekong, True Self, Wells Farhh Go; 16/1 Mustajeer, Weekender; 20/1 Kelly’s Dino, Max Dynamite, Red Verdon; 25/1 Barsanti, Cleonte, Cypress Creek, Desert Skyline, Dramatic Queen, Prince Of Arran, Proschema, Raymond Tusk, Red Galileo, The Grand Visir; 33/1 Making Miracles
KING'S ADVICE FAVOURITE AS 56 CONFIRMED FOR £1-MILLION SKY BET EBOR
Leading ante-post fancies King’s Advice and Withhold are among 56 five-day acceptors for the first £1-million Sky Bet Ebor at York this Saturday, August 24.
The historic handicap takes place over a mile and six furlongs on day four of Welcome To Yorkshire Ebor Festival and, thanks to a 100 per cent prize money increase in 2019, is now the richest Flat handicap run in Europe.
Sky Bet’s 6/1 favourite King’s Advice (9st 7lb including 4lb penalty) has proved a revelation since joining trainer Mark Johnston, winning eight of his nine starts in 2019 including valuable handicaps at Newmarket’s July Festival and Glorious Goodwood.
Johnston is likely to have a strong hand as he bids for his second Sky Bet Ebor victory, following Quick Ransom in 1992. The Middleham handler’s remaining entries also include Baghdad (9st 4lb, 12/1), successful in the Duke Of Edinburgh Handicap at Royal Ascot, and Chester Cup victor Making Miracles (9st 1lb, 33/1).
Withhold (Roger Charlton, 9st 8lb) is a 7/1 chance with Sky Bet after a dominant front-running victory under top-weight in the Marsh Cup Handicap at Newbury on July 20. The six-year-old has the chance to complete a rare treble in staying heritage handicaps, having already landed the 2017 Cesarewitch Handicap at Newmarket and the 2018 Northumberland Plate at Newcastle.
Several horses who ran well in the 2018 Sky Bet Ebor are among the acceptors, including runner-up Weekender (John Gosden, 9st 6lb, 16/1) and the fourth Mustajeer (Ger Lyons IRE, 9st 3lb, 14/1).
Irish challenger Mustajeer has been in excellent form this year, with the pick of his four efforts coming when beaten a neck by Master Of Reality in the G3 Vintage Crop Stakes at Navan in April. On his latest appearance, the six-year-old was a staying-on fifth in the G2 Curragh Cup on June 28.
Ger Lyons said: “Mustajeer is in good form and we have been happy with his preparation.
“He ran very well last year to finish fourth. We rode him to get the trip that day, and we were delighted with his effort and how he saw out the distance.
“We have been really pleased with him so far this season and he ran well to finish fifth last time out, which was a nice stepping stone.
“This year’s renewal has plenty of quality and these staying handicaps are turning into very competitive Group races in terms of the talent on show. We can ride Mustajeer a bit more prominently this year and are hopeful of a good effort.
“The Sky Bet Ebor has been the target this year and it would be a great prize to win. York is a very fair track and there should be no hard-luck stories."
Four of the last 10 renewals of the Sky Bet Ebor have been won by Irish-trained horses. Willie Mullins, who took the spoils in 2009 with Sesenta, is likely to be double-handed with the Susannah Ricci-owned Max Dynamite (9st 5lb, 25/1) and talented mare True Self (9st 5lb, 14/1).
Muntahaa led home a one-two for John Gosden in 2018 and Britain’s champion Flat trainer has another strong hand, with Weekender joined by impressive November Handicap victor Royal Line (9st 6lb, 10/1) and Royal Ascot second Ben Vrackie (9st 3lb, 12/1).
G1 runner-up Red Verdon (Ed Dunlop, 9st 7lb, 16/1) returned to form in the G3 John Smith's Silver Cup, run over the course and distance on July 13. Red Verdon defeated Gold Mount and leading Sky Bet Ebor fancy Raheen House (William Haggas, 9st 6lb, 8/1) in a three-way finish, with Weekender and Kelly’s Dino (Karl Burke, 9st 4lb including 4lb penalty, 20/1) in fourth and fifth.
Kelly’s Dino had won the Old Newton Cup at Haydock Park prior to his run in the John Smith’s Silver Cup and has since landed a 12-furlong handicap in tenacious fashion at Newmarket on August 9.
Karl Burke reported: “We have been very happy with Kelly’s Dino ahead of the Sky Bet Ebor.
"He had a wind op at the end of last year and it has really helped. We just felt he was not finishing off his races well enough and the wind op has worked out brilliantly.
“He has already enjoyed a great season, having won the Old Newton Cup, and he ran really well at York in July before winning at Newmarket.
“He has always shown a good attitude, but when he hits the front he doesn’t always do a lot. He is a horse that travels really well, but he doesn’t want to hit the front too soon.
“He will improve again from Newmarket in terms of fitness. He is going to be racing off a career-high mark and whilst he has never won over the trip, we feel he does get it.
“If Kelly’s Dino could finish in the top four, then we would be delighted. There is fantastic prize money on offer and it is great to have one in the race."
Other notable contenders include top-weight Salouen (Sylvester Kirk, 9st 10lb, 14/1), who has been mixing it with the best in G1 company over a mile and a half, Newmarket Listed scorer Wells Farhh Go (Tim Easterby, 9st 7lb, 14/1) and G1 Melbourne Cup third Prince of Arran (Charlie Fellowes, 9st 5lb, 20/1).
A maximum of 22 horses can line up in the Sky Bet Ebor. Final declarations are made at 10am on Thursday, August 22.
Michael Shinners, Racing PR Manager at Sky Bet, commented today: “The first £1-million Sky Bet Ebor is shaping up to be the most competitive handicap of the season following today’s five-day confirmation stage.
“King’s Advice is the 6/1 market leader with Sky Bet after defying the handicapper yet again when winning at Glorious Goodwood.
“Sky Bet is delighted to sponsor six of the seven races on the final day of the Welcome To Yorkshire Ebor Festival and we look forward to another thrilling week on the Knavesmire.”
Sky Bet Ebor – Sky Bet odds (NRNB): 6/1 King’s Advice; 7/1 Withhold; 8/1 Raheen House; 10/1 Royal Line; 12/1 Baghdad, Ben Vrackie; 14/1 Buildmeupbuttercup, Exchange Rate, Mustajeer, Outbox, Salouen, True Self, Wells Farhh Go; 16/1 Cypress Creek, Dubawi Fifty, Red Verdon, Weekender; 20/1 Carlo Biraghi, Corgi, Kelly’s Dino, Mekong, Prince Of Arran, Raymond Tusk, Stratum, Uradel; 25/1 Al Muffrih, Barsanti, Cleonte, Desert Skyline, Desert Wind, Dramatic Queen, Lethal Steps, Max Dynamite, Proschema, Red Galileo, Saroog, Soto Sizzler, The Grand Visir; 33/1 bar
CRYSTAL OCEAN HEADS JUDDMONTE INTERNATIONAL STAKES FIELD
CRYSTAL Ocean will bid to confirm his status as the highest-rated horse in the world when he contests the Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes at York on Wednesday – the opening day of the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival.
The Sir Michael Stoute-trained star ran a mighty race in defeat in last month’s King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.
The five-year-old will be joined in the £1million showdown on the Knavesmire by stable-mate Regal Reality. The pair form part of a nine-strong field that includes Circus Maximus and Japan, two Group 1 winners from Aidan O’Brien’s powerful Ballydoyle operation.
2017 Japan Cup winner Cheval Grand offers an international flavour to a race that is part of the QIPCO British Champions Series, while there are two Yorkshire-trained runners in Lord Glitters and Elarqam – winner of the recent Sky Bet York Stakes over Wednesday’s course and distance, an extended mile and a quarter.
Thundering Blue, third in the 2018 renewal of the Juddmonte International Stakes, and St James’s Palace Stakes runner-up, King of Comedy, complete the field.
Newmarket-based trainer Stoute said: “It’s a tough race. We go there with two nice horses...they’ve prepared well and we hope for the best.”
Crystal Ocean more than played his part in making the King George an unforgettable race. It’s only three and a half weeks since Crystal Ocean’s thrilling head-to-head duel with the outstanding mare Enable but Stoute added: “Obviously we’re happy with him or we wouldn’t have sent him.”
Stoute is keen to see Regal Reality back on ground that’s more to the colt’s liking. He was third to Enable in the Group 1 Eclipse Stakes at Sandown but found underfoot conditions too soft when well beaten in the Sky Bet York Stakes at the end of July.
Stoute said: “He ran very well in the Eclipse – it was a good, solid run actually. The ground was too soft for him last time. The surface will be more suitable (at York) and we’ll learn more about him.”
No trainer has a better record in the Juddmonte International than Stoute, who has won it on six previous occasions. Shardari (1986), Ezzoud (1993, 1994), Singspiel (1997), Notnowcato (2006), Ulysses (2017) have all been successful.
As for other running plans this week at York, Stoute has classy stayer Mekong in the Sky Bet Ebor Handicap and said: “He has been confirmed in the Ebor but we will wait and see what conditions are like. We’ll see what the ground is going to be like because we don’t want it too quick for him.”
Three-year-old filly Vivionn will tackle Listed company for the first time in Thursday’s British EBF and Sir Henry Cecil Galtres Stakes. The daughter of Dubawi was narrowly beaten in a Goodwood handicap three weeks ago.
Stoute said: “We’ll take our chance in the Galtres, upping her in class but we have to have a stab at some black type. The Galtres is always a tough race – a lot of people are after the same thing!”
Derevo is entered in the mile and a half Sky Bet Handicap on Friday but Stoute added: “He is not certain to get in.”
The Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival runs from this Wednesday, August 21 until Saturday, August 24 inclusi