York’s Ebor meeting is usually one of the most popular, well-attended weeks of the whole racing calendar – but sadly this year, like so many of the big meetings, it will not be quite the same.
The feature, the Ebor Handicap on Saturday, is still a very valuable handicap, but not the £1 million race that it has been in recent years. Having had a brief look at the race a few months ago, it is a shame to see Hamish injured for the season, but in the shape of Trueshan we still have a live one. Especially given the unsettled nature of the forecast for the week, as Alan King’s classy stayer wouldn’t want fast ground.
Day one opens on ground just on the soft side of good, with a band of light rain moving in during racing, so there is the potential for softening of the terrain to slightly muddy the betting waters. The 1.45 is a fiendish looking 5½ furlong handicap – which is defined by the amount of pacesetters in the race. There is pace all over the track, and while there is going to be a slight tailwind down the Knavesmire straight on Wednesday, I do still think it could pay to side with a horse who might sit just off that likely fierce pace.
Step forward many punters’ cliff horse of the last two seasons – Arecibo. At 8/1 each-way with Ladbrokes and Coral, who both offer five places, David O’Meara’s mercurial sprinter has everything right for a big run.
Back Arecibo in the Skybet & Symphony Group Handicap with Ladbrokes!
Arecibo last won in July of last year and is on a winless run of 15 starts, but that is not uncommon for a sprint handicapper. And when you consider that he has turned up to every high quality sprint dance in the interim – including being beaten less than 3 lengths in no fewer than 10 of those assignments – then you have to afford him a deal of respect.
He has had six runs so far under his belt this campaign, and to my eye on four of them he has been better than the bare form for various reasons. With a solid pace to aim at, over the intermediate trip of 5½ furlongs, and at a track that he has run very well at previously (including second in this race last year), then he has to have a massive chance.
The middle of the card is chock full of fascinating races, but none that appealed as a betting proposition. So, it is to the penultimate race on the card at 4.20 (another sprint handicap,) this time over 5f for fillies only, that I turn.
It took all my might not to suggest and/or back Dancin Inthestreet here, and for regular followers, it will be apparent why. Ultimately, she may prove too well handicapped, but I do think she is better over further than 6f, while she didn’t look in love with York last time.
Instead, I suggest backing Our Little Pony at a wild price of 33/1 with Skybet, who offer four places each-way. Again, a feature of this race is the likely plethora of pace-setters, and so it could suit something ridden a little quieter. Our Little Pony caught the eye on seasonal re-appearance at Beverley, and the subsequent runs at Doncaster and Thirsk confirmed the impression that she was very much improving with each run and ready to burst into life.
Back Our Little Pony in the Skybet Fillies Sprint Handicap with Skybet!
Lawrence Mullany’s mare has run well at York previously, and crucially her last two wins came on soft ground – which it could be by the time of this race, if the rain sets in.