The Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival: Horses are coming...



TRAINER George Peckham hopes that the progressive two-year-old Semoum can complete a career hat-trick with victory in the Group 2 Al Basti Equiworld Gimcrack Stakes, being staged as part of the Friday card at York, this year.

The son of Bernardini has won his last two starts – a novice event at Ripon and a head success in an Ascot nursery.

If 90-rated Semoum is to complete a three-timer, so landing the majority of the £225,000 pot, he will have to step up considerably on what he has shown so far on the racecourse

But Peckham said: “He is a colt we have always liked. He is a good looker and his homework from the beginning has been very good.

“I thought he’d win more impressively than he did at Ascot but they went no gallop which didn’t really suit him.

“He has won his last two and deserves to be stepped up in grade. The sharper track should suit him – he has a lot of pace and I think he’s the type to run better in a better race.

“It’s fantastic prize money and this is where we want to be competing. Malih (Al Basti) sponsors – he is a good friend of the yard – it’s a great meeting and we are really looking forward to coming.”

With a prize fund of £225,000 it is the richest Group 2 for two-year-old colts held in the UK. And it is a race with a fine tradition. Even, in recent times it has been won by subsequent Group 1 stars Blue Point (2016) and Muhaarar (2014).

The Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival runs for four days: from Wednesday, August 22 to Saturday, August 25.




TRAINER William Haggas will be hoping Sea Of Class can land a blow for the three-year-olds when she takes on her elders in the Group One Darley Yorkshire Oaks at York on Thursday 23 August.
Sea Of Class lived up to her name with a Darley Irish Oaks success last month, that completed a hat-trick for the progressive filly.

Now she has been primed for the £350,000 British Champions Series contest,  in which eleven fillies and mares stood their ground, at today’s latest entry stage.
The only factor that may prevent her from running on the Knavesmire would be if there was substantial rainfall.

Skipton-born though Newmarket-based Haggas said: “Sea Of Class is very well. She moved beautifully on Thursday morning in her final bit of work, so I don’t really want to run her on soft ground. But if the ground is good or better then I look forward to it.

“As I said after the Irish Oaks we’ve got nothing to lose now – we’ll just enjoy her, though obviously we want to win everything we run in. I’m pleased with her condition.”

Asked if his comparatively lightly-raced charge is still open to further forward steps, Haggas replied: “That’s what we all hope. She’s a late May foal and has only just got her act together recently. She’s been in a maiden and Listed races and that was a big step up to the Irish Oaks and she won quite well actually, but not very far. So we’re up to Group 1s now and why can’t she improve? I think she has got a good brain. So we hope she will – we’ll see.”

One of the most intriguing elements of the Darley Yorkshire Oaks is that it sees the three-year-old middle-distance fillies taking on their elders at championship level.

Assessing the race, Haggas added: “I’ve been rather sceptical about this year’s three-year-olds – I’ve not been too sure. I’m slowly being proved wrong of course,  but that’s normal!

“So I hope that the fillies in the Yorkshire Oaks will be better than the four-year-olds. Coronet is a very useful filly but there will be others.”

Twenty four hours earlier, Haggas could also be represented in the two biggest races of the opening afternoon.

He has Addeybb – not seen since contesting the Lockinge Stakes in May – in the £1million Juddmonte International Stakes and Chester Vase winner, Young Rascal, in the Group 2 Sky Bet Great Voltigeur.
Haggas said: “Addeybb needs very soft ground to have a chance and, I think, soft ground to run.

“We’ve put Young Rascal in the Voltigeur – that has always been the plan. His most recent work was at Chelmsford and he didn’t impress me as much as I was expecting. But I’ve always been very keen to run him in the Voltigeur and probably still will, but I’d just like to see him over the next few days to decide. If not he’ll wait for the Prix Niel.”

Haggas has other horses pencilled in for the four days of the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival – including Muthmir in another British Champions Series contest, the Group 1 Coolmore Nunthorpe.

Champion Trainer on the Knavesmire in 2017, he said: “I love going there, I love competing there and I like to win there. So I am looking forward to it very much. It also clashes with my birthday every year – this year is no exception.”

Haggas will be 58 on Thursday. A victory for Sea Of Class in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks would be the perfect way for him to mark the occasion.



GODOLPHIN trainer Saeed bin Suroor plans to be double-handed in the Juddmonte International Stakes, with Thunder Snow and Benbatl, lined up to appear at York next Wednesday, 22 August.

Thunder Snow will be having his first run in almost five months after a brilliant start to the year that included an emphatic victory in the Dubai World Cup.

Benbatl was also successful at Meydan on World Cup night, triumphing in the Group 1 Dubai Turf. The four-year-old Dubawi colt has since been campaigned in Europe and won a Group 1 in Munich last month.

Handler of the pair, bin Suroor, said: “They are ready but will have a last piece of work tomorrow – just to blow out before the race. But so far I am happy with them.

“I know the race is going to be very tough – the best quality horses are going to run. But both of them are doing well.”

The race is part of the Qipco backed British Champions Series and will see jockey Christophe Soumillion renew acquaintance with Thunder Snow. But bin Suroor explained how the £1 million York showpiece will be the first of three intended races for the Helmet colt.

He added: “Hs last race was the Dubai World Cup and we made a decision with Sheikh Mohammed just to give him a break – because he’d had four races in Dubai.

“Since the horse came to Newmarket he’s doing well and working nicely. Oisin Murphy rode him last week – on the Limekilns in Newmarket – and the horse is improving all the time and now he’s fit, but he’ll need the race and will improve for it.

“He needs the race before we take him to America. The target to start with is the Group 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup over a mile and a quarter at Belmont Park on September 29. After that we’ll take him to the Breeders’ Cup Classic in Churchill Downs.

“Whatever happens in the Juddmonte will make him fit and ready for the future.”
His top-class displays in Dubai early this year were on dirt, as will be his upcoming US targets.  According to bin Suroor it is his preferred surface even though he has recorded Group 1 victories in France on grass over both seven furlongs and a mile.

The trainer explained: “I know he has won two Group 1s in France on turf but on the dirt his action is much better.”

Benbatl will be making his second visit to York, having finished runner-up to Permian over course and distance in the Dante Stakes of 2017.

“The horse has really improved physically this year,” said bin Suroor. “The key for him is that it has got to be good ground, really. He doesn’t like fast ground or soft.  He is doing well. Oisin Murphy rode him last week and he worked really nicely.”

In other running plans at the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival, bin Suroor intends to send both Prize Money and Game Starter for the now £500,000 Sky Bet Ebor on Saturday 25 August, while Natural Scenery is likely to contest the two-mile Sky Bet Handicap on the opening day of the festival.


TRAINER John Gosden is set to bring a team brimming with stars to next week’s Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival at York.

He put several of his key contenders through their paces on the Newmarket gallops this morning ahead of the four-day meeting, which starts on Wednesday, August 22.

Tomorrow marks the latest entry stage of the Juddmonte International Stakes and Gosden plans to leave three Group-1 winning aces in the £1million race, which will be run on the opening afternoon of the Festival.

Eclipse winner Roaring Lion, Champion Stakes hero Cracksman and St James’s Palace Stakes victor Without Parole all remain in line for a shot at the prestigious extended mile and a quarter-race, which has so far eluded Gosden in his glittering career.

But the master of Clarehaven Stables explained that the weather will have a key part to play in deciding which of his charges lines up on the Knavesmire next Wednesday.

Asked whether he could be triple-handed, Gosden said: “It’s very much ground dependent. I’ll just leave them in the race and then we’ll just see what the weather does.

“Anything can happen this time of year – you can get thunderstorms. So let’s just assess it – we’ll probably have to go quite close to the race to work it out.

“Roaring Lion is in good form. He did a public workout at the July Course on Saturday. We are happy with him going into the race.

“We’ve finally had some rain here at Newmarket and Cracksman worked nicely on the Limekilns this morning, just getting his toe in which he appreciates.

“Without Parole did a breeze. Obviously the Sussex Stakes (in which Without Parole suffered a first career defeat) was a somewhat muddling affair to say the least and we have him in mind for the race. But then he does not want to see much rain. He likes top of the ground.

“It is looking like a very interesting race. We’ve plenty of respect for the opposition. Saxon Warrior and Roaring Lion have met before, bringing the three-year-old form there and then you’ve got some very good, rock-solid older horse form.”

Stradivarius will bid to land the Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers Million by virtue of a victory in the Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup on Friday, August 24.

The seven-figure incentive was launched at the start of the season, offered if a horse could win one of four recognised prep races before going on to land the Ascot Gold Cup, the Goodwood Cup and the Lonsdale Cup.

Stradivarius has proved the staying star of the season, starting out with a triumph in the Yorkshire Cup and then recording Group 1 glory at Ascot and Goodwood. Now the bonus appears to be within touching distance for the four-year-old colt, who stretched out on the Al Bahathri polytrack this morning.

But Gosden explained: “It’s not been the be-all and end-all of his year. It’s just happened those races have fitted him well and he has come out on top in all of them. So we’ll see. Nothing is simple as it seems; certainly not that with horses running in races. But we’re happy with him at the moment.

“He ran a valiant race in the Ascot Gold Cup and he ran a very tidy race in the Goodwood Cup. He has won nicely at York this year – the Yorkshire Cup – so it’s a track he likes. We’re pleased with him at this stage.”

Coronet is another key Gosden-trained runner at York – she is heading towards the Darley Yorkshire Oaks on Thursday, August 23. On the same card talented two-year-old Angel’s Hideaway is in line for a shot at the Sky Bet Lowther Stakes.

Gosden said: “Coronet is pointing for the Yorkshire Oaks. It looks like it could be a very good edition.

There will be some very smart three-year-olds and she brings the four-year-old form there. Angel’s

Hideaway is looking towards the Lowther. She won the (Group 3) Princess Margaret last time.”
The final day of the meeting, Saturday, August 25, could see Gosden double-handed in the £500,000 Sky Bet Ebor.

The trainer confirmed: “At this stage we plan to run Weekender and Muntahaa in the Ebor. They seem well in themselves and both breezed this morning.”


Irish master trainer, Willie Mullins, has confirmed Stratum is on track to try and win him a second Sky Bet Ebor at York a week on Saturday- if his charge gets into the £500,000 race.

Stratum is currently number 29 in the entries for Europe's richest flat handicap, with only the top 20 able to take part.

Mullins saddled the 25 to 1 shot Sesanta to win the big race in 2009 and he has been outlining his plans for this year’s race, alongside his other Knavesmire hopes

Ebor Weights

Weights have been revealed for the £500,000 @SkyBet Ebor @yorkracecourse, August 25, including:

Marmelo 9-13
Weekender 9-12
Dal Harraild 9-11
Hamada 9-07
Withhold 9-07
Crowned Eagle 9-07
Nakeeta 9-07
Dash Of Spice 9-06
Stratum 9-02
Chelkar 9-00

See full list here

Sea of Class York Bound?

23 July

The impressive winner of the Darley Irish Oaks Sea of Class may well be heading to York’s Ebor Meeting for the Darley Yorkshire Oaks. The William Haggas trained filly who bypassed the Epsom Oaks on account of the ground is likely to head to York before a possible tilt at the Prix De L’Arc de Triomphe at the end of the season. It is very likely that one of her major competitors in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks will be the locally trained Laurens. The Karl Burke trained filly has already three Group 1 successes on her CV most recently the Prix De Diane at Chantilly.

Karl Burke is likely to be looking forward to the Ebor Meeting as another one of his stable stars Havana Grey is earmarked for the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes on the Friday of the meeting. The 3-y-o appeared to be returning to his best when landing the Group 2 Sapphire Stakes in Ireland and will bid for Group 1 glory in York’s showcase sprint.

Strong entries for the Sky Bet Great Voltigeur

4 July

Entries for the Group 2 Sky Bet Great Voltigeur include Latrobe; winner of last Saturday’s Irish Derby for the O’Brien family, trainer Joseph and his jockey brother, Donnacha.

The colt could face familiar competition for the £170,000 prize money, with Mark Johnston entering Dee Ex Bee, a horse trained locally in Middleham, that was second in the Investec Derby and seventh at The Curragh.

This pair is prominent in the ante post betting market for the final Classic of the season, the St Leger at Doncaster; with nine of the top ten fancies for this September race entered for York. The Sky Bet Great Voltigeur looks set to continue its role in identifying the highest calibre of three year old horses with stamina, some thirteen colts have already achieved the York/Doncaster double.

A winner at Group level at last year’s Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival, Wells Farhh Go, could be another to represent local yards, being trained near Malton by Tim Easterby. A brace of Royal Ascot victors, Old Persian (King Edward VII Stakes) and Kew Gardens (Queen’s Vase) also form part of the fifty-nine strong field at this stage.

Further entry stages and the potential for supplementary additions will add further excitement ahead of the race on Wednesday 22 August, the opening day of York’s feature festival.

Full list of entries as at 4 July for the Group 2, Sky Bet Great Voltigeur Stakes, to be held at York on Wednesday 22 August:

Latrobe, Kew Gardens, Old Persian, Amedeo Modigliani, Aspetar, Astronome, Beringer, Berkshire Blue, Bombyx, Caliburn, Cassini, Corelli, Cross Counter, Crossed Baton, Cypress Creek, Dee Ex Bee, Delano Roosevelt, Desert Fire, Downdraft, Extra Elusive, Family Tree, First Eleven, Flag of Honour, Frankincense, Gardens of Babylon, Ghaiyyath, Ghostwatch, Giuseppe Garibaldi, Global Giant, House Edge, Hunting Horn, James Cook, Loxley, Lucius Tiberius, Masaarr, M C Muldoon, Midnight Meeting, Mildenberger, Ming, Moqarrab, Nelson, Nordic Lights, Platinum Warrior, Raa Atoll, Raymond Tusk, Rostropovich, Saracen Knight, Sevenna Star, Sextant, Sir Erec, Sleeping Lion, Southern France, Stream of Stars, The Pentagon, Victory Salute, Wells Farhh Go, Winner Takes Itall, Young Rascal, Zabriskie

Saxon Warrier heading for the Juddmonte International

2 July

The Aidan O’Brien trained Saxon Warrior, who impressively landed the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket, is almost certainly heading to York for the Juddmonte International after having a short Summer break.

The 3 year old colt, who has run well in both English and Irish Derbys, is expected to drop back in trip for his next race, where he may possibly meet the star filly of last year Enable. She landed the English Oaks, Darley Yorkshire Oaks and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in her stellar 2017 campaign and is likely to make her reappearance at York in August after a small setback in the Spring.

Other possible runners include Poet’s Word, conqueror of Cracksman in the Prince of Wales Stakes at Royal Ascot, and Roaring Lion, winner of the Betfred Dante at the Dante Festival.

The mouthwatering clash is the highlight on Wednesday 22nd August, the first day of the four day Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival at York.