York’s premier horse racing meeting, the four-day Ebor Festival, is fast approaching over the summer holidays.
As is the case every year, top trainers are targeting their best Flat thoroughbreds to run on the Knavesmire between 19 and 22 August. Here are three potential Group 1 race clashes between star racehorses that could make the 2020 Ebor Festival extra special.
Ghaiyyath v Kameko (Juddmonte International)
This year’s renewal of the Juddmonte International Stakes over a mile-and-a-quarter is likely to attract a classy field in general. We could see the likes of dual Champion Stakes heroine Magical coming over from Ireland to run at York again, but the main attraction is in-form Godolphin owned five-year-old Ghaiyyath.
Trained by Charlie Appleby, he has always had talent but found it difficult to put a string of results together in the past. It appears as though Ghaiyyath has finally been able to back up a good run with consecutive Group 1 victories this season, first scoring the Coronation Cup at Newmarket before dropping back in trip to land the Eclipse at Sandown.
Appleby immediately named the Juddmonte International as the next target for this front-running horse. However, unlike most years, the Eclipse was only open to older horses, so this race will be the first time Ghaiyyath has taken on any three-year-olds since the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe last autumn.
Leading the young pretenders is 2000 Guineas hero Kameko, who has been unlucky in two subsequent starts. Trained by Andrew Balding, the Kitten’s Joy colt is a half-brother to 2018 Juddmonte International winner Roaring Lion.
Ghiayyath is the 6/4 favourite, but Kameko has come in for support in the ante post betting on the race and is bred for this trip to be optimum. Balding’s youngster has found trouble in-running on his last two starts and was particularly unlucky in the Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, but that just means he trades at a bigger price during in-play betting which you can now get on horse racing.
Enable v Love (Yorkshire Oaks)
The feature race for fillies and mares at the Ebor Festival is the Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks over a mile-and-a-half. This year’s race is widely anticipated to be the history maker Enable against the record-breaker Love. Everyone connected with York will desperately hope that connections of the pair don’t hold off a meeting until the Arc in October.
Enable’s trainer John Gosden has indicated that she will have entries in both the Juddmonte International and Yorkshire Oaks. She has won the latter race twice before and has now won three King Georges at Ascot, but Love is the rapidly progressive dual Classic heroine hailing from the powerful Irish stable of Aidan O’Brien.
Love smashed Enable’s course record for the Epsom Oaks with a scintillating display of speed and stamina earlier this summer. She will also get weight from the older mare, who is twice her age. This is one clash all horse racing fans want to see.
Battaash v Art Power (Nunthorpe Stakes)
In what could be a cracking renewal of the Nunthorpe Stakes over the flying five furlongs, last year’s winner Battaash defends his crowns against a host of challengers. By far the most impressive of the new rivals he could face on the Knavesmire is Tim Easterby’s locally trained Art Power.
Battaash hasn’t always handled the big occasions but looks to have mellowed with age. Like Enable, he is now a six-year-old but better than ever after finally winning the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot and a fourth consecutive renewal of the King George Qatar Stakes at Glorious Goodwood. He remains the sprinter that they all have to beat.
Art Power also won at the Royal meeting, making a mockery of his official rating by bolting up in an age-restricted handicap. He has since taken the step up into Group races in his stride with a follow-up win in Ireland and will be primed for Nunthorpe glory.