Yorkshire is a proud county, and its racing folk will be at maximum chest-puff this week as the eyes of the racing world descend on the Ebor Festival.
And rightly so, as the four Day extravaganza is hitting just about every conceivable sweet-spot.
The Juddmonte International is regularly one of the world’s top-performing races on ratings, and Wednesday’s feature will have to try pretty hard to disappoint.
After much deliberation, the vote goes to Barney Roy. He showed in the Eclipse that he could be fully effective at 10 furlongs, despite still looking far from the finished article.
The suspicion is that the long York straight will suit him perfectly, enabling him to wind up his raking stride to best effect. Connections can now be confident in his stamina and, with no confirmed pace in the race, he may be able to sieze the initiative.
Regular readers will know the esteem in which I hold his Sandown conqueror Ulysses, while Churchill looks a galloping miler who could easily improve at this distance.
Meanwhile, Shutter Speed was considered better than Enable by many close to her early in the year, so needs a second look in a first time tongue tie.
In short, this is no cakewalk for Barney Roy, but everything is aligned for a career defining performance.
The Great Voltigeur looks a good spot for the dual Derby placer Cracksman, but he might face a meaningful challenge from another son of Frankel, Mirage Dancer.
Both are quite unfurnished works in progress, but the Stoute runner may be open to a little more improvement – neither at Chester nor at Ascot was he able to run to his full potential.
The Acomb can go the way of Dee Ex Bee, who posted a slick performance on the clock at Goodwood. He’s bred to be better suited by this faster surface, and can make the most of his inside stall on this tricky 7f course.
The opening race is likely to be influenced heavily by the stall position of the brazen speedster El Astronaute in 1. He’s a terrific animal, but the extra half furlong may allow a horse with a good tow into the race to go by late.
Thesme, Drawn 2, has run some fantastic races here – including in last year’s Nunthorpe. Dropped 9lbs after three tame efforts in the spring, she’s had a break since and can confidently be expected to show more this time under Frankie Dettori.
1.55 – Class 2 Handicap – Thesme
2.25 – Acomb Stakes – Dee Ex Bee
3.00 – Great Voltigeur Stakes – Mirage Dancer
3.35 – Juddmonte International Stakes – Barney Roy
Odds are provided at time of writing, please check your betslip to confirm they have not changed before betting.