Twelve months previously, the appearance of Frankel in the Juddmonte International Stakes attracted a huge crowd to the Knavesmire on the first day of the York Ebor meeting.
Frankel duly obliged that day with a comfortable win in his first attempt at the 1m 2f distance, and while the intended runners in this year’s renewal may not possess the same panache as Frankel, an intriguing race is anticipated as part four days of engrossing racing at the track.
Al Kazeem is ante-post favourite for the International with Paddy Power offering 5/6. The Roger Charlton trained five year old has earned his place at the head of the market with victories in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes, the Coral Eclipse and the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh to establish himself as the leading horse of over 1m2f in Britain and Ireland. His main opponent at York may be Toronado.
Toronado should participate if the going doesn’t soften and his epic duels with Dawn Approach over a mile this season have thrilled the racing public. However, it is only three weeks since his infamous but gruelling win in the Sussex Stakes posing question marks as to whether he will have recovered sufficiently. He can be backed at 11/4 by Sporting Bet to win at his first attempt at the distance.
Hillstar probably needs further while Jim Bolger is represented by Trading Leather who confirmed that his Irish Derby win was no fluke by following home the impressive Novellist in the King George at Ascot. He is available at 11/2 with Coral and is not without a chance as can be said for Epsom Derby winner Ruler of the World, should he take his chance.
If his very poor showing in the Irish Derby is ignored, Ruler of the World would be much shorter than the 8/1 offered by William Hill and he has been given a break by Aidan O’Brien. The Irish trainer has several other entrants in the field, most notably Kingsbarns, who is also declared in the Great Voltigeur on the same day. After a late winter injury, it will be the seasonal reappearance for the 2012 Racing Post Trophy winner and Skybet quote him at 12/1, representing reasonable each way value for the first two places.
Besides the quality field expected for the International Stakes, the Ebor on Saturday always provides a good market for the 1m 6f handicap contest. With an increase of only four in his rating for a six length win over the distance at Goodwood, Harris Tweed appeals as a good each way investment at 16/1 with Bet Victor for this consistent horse.
Stablemate Sun Central races off the same mark when winning the John Smith’s Silver Cup over course and distance in July and odds of 12/1 with Boylesports for the four year old colt represent better value than those for favourite Opinion who has yet to race further than 1m 4f.
In the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes over five furlongs, South African horse Shea Shea bids to return to winning ways after two defeats in England.
There is little to choose between him and second favourite Sole Power on form, but Irish horse Slade Power cannot be ignored. His only disappointing run so far this season was in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes when rearing in the stalls. He is 10/1 at Skybet.
With four days of competitive action envisaged at the Ebor festival, attendance figures should once again be generous at this very popular racing venue.