York 1.50 – Culturati
A desperately competitive start to York’s Ebor Festival. In a race where the handicapper can be pretty certain of every horse’s ability, Culturati sticks out like a sore thumb. He was disappointing on his comeback here, but that was over 7 furlongs on soft ground, and a drop to 5 1/2 on a sound surface should suit on what we knew of him previously.
York 2.25 – Phoenix of Spain
An Acomb Stakes where this is precious little established form to go on, and in which you’re trying to work out which of these maiden winners has the most potential. Phoenix of Spain probably hasn’t achieved all that much so far, but the way he travelled through a small race at Wolverhampton last time hinted at a bit of star quality, and the comments of his rider afterwards bore out the fact that he appears to be held in pretty high regard. He’s a well related horse closely matched with Persian Moon on their Sandown running, but there’s every chance he’s made more progress since.
York 3.00 – Cross Counter
I’m a big fan of Kew Gardens, but he’ll have to be right on his game if he’s going to concede a 5lb Group One penalty to Cross Counter. The latter smashed the track record at Goodwood on ground that was only just the fast side of good, thumping Derby runner-up Dee Ex Bee into the bargain. By contrast, Kew Gardens was forced to sit out his intended run in the King George, and this is his first step back in to competition en route to a tilt at the St Leger.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see The Pentagon run quite well – that was much more like it in the Irish Derby last time.
York 3.35 – Poet’s Word
There are three very talented three year olds in here, but Poet’s Word should be a shorter price to beat them than he is if you believe he can translate the form and style of his Ascot successes to this track.
Not every horse acts on the Knavesmire, but Poet’s Word is a pretty straightforward, unflustered customer with a long, useful stride that should be perfectly well served by the long York straight.
If the race becomes messy, he is adaptable enough to sit handier than he did in the King George. Of the others, I fancy Saxon Warrior might have benefitted most from a little break, and can reverse Eclipse form with Roaring Lion, whilst a case can made that both Godolphin runners – Benbatl and Thunder Snow – warrant a bit more respect than the market is affording them.
Odds are provided at time of writing, please check your betslip to confirm they have not changed before betting.