Opinion favourite to land Ebor for Sir Michael Stoute
Sir Michael Stoute’s Opinion is a popular choice for the big race at York on Saturday following an unlucky run at Haydock last time out. The Newmarket trainer has won the Ebor on three previous occasions with Shaftesbury (1980), Deposki (1991) and Clerkenwell (1996).
Opinion won the valuable Duke of Edinburgh Handicap at the Royal meeting this summer and was then sent to Haydock for the Old Newton Cup. He was held up in midfield by Kieren Fallon but could never get a clear run until the closing stages when he ran on strongly to take fifth.
The Ebor has been the plan ever since and a favourable low draw should enable Ryan Moore to settle him nicely close to the pace.
The best backed horse in recent days has been Lady Cecil’s Tiger Cliff who has not raced since finishing second at Royal Ascot. Jockey Tom Queally was criticised for giving him too much ground to make up in the Ascot Stakes and he may again find himself off the pace from stall 18.
Roger Charlton will have been pleased to see the rain ease the going for Bishop Roko and he is well drawn in stall 8.
The card opens at 2.05 with Aidan O’Brien’s Cristoforo Colombo taking a drop to Listed class on his first start since finishing fifth in the 2000 Guineas in May. Glory Awaits finished second on that occasion at odds of 150-1 but looked a difficult ride at Ascot.
Ryan Moore rides Havana Cooler in the Melrose Stakes who stayed on dourly at Goodwood last time whilst the Andrew Balding-trained pair of Debdebdeb and Van Percy have decent claims.
Richard Fahey’s Parbold ran on well at Goodwood over seven furlongs last time but drops back to six furlongs for the Gimcrack Stakes at 3.15. Saayerr and Cable Bay are closely matched on form at the Sussex track but the one to beat could be O’Brien’s Wilshire Boulevard.
Excel’s Beauty put up an improved performance to chase home Wind Fire at Newbury last time and sets the standard in the 4.05. The unbeaten Hot Streak and Outer Space have plenty of potential and could also get involved.
Sennockian Star has been a model of consistency for Mark Johnston and has only been out of the first two twice in his last fifteen starts. He almost defied a 12lbs hike in the weights at Haydock last time and should again go close in the 5.00.
David O’Meara has his string in fine form this week and will be hoping that Lexington Place can provide with a third handicap success of the meeting in the closing event at 5.30. Hoofalong and Angus Og are others with chances in a wide open sprint.
Selections: 2.05 Cristoforo Colombo, 2.40 Van Percy (nb), 3.15 Wilshire Boulevard, 3.50 Opinion (NAP), 4.25 Outer Space, 5.00 Sennockian Star, 5.35 Hoofalong