We begin this years’ Ebor Festival with 20 runners scheduled to contest the Class 2 Symphony Group Handicap. With the amount of rain that has fallen over the last day or so there has been a big swing in the ground conditions and at the time of writing is now classed as good/good-to-soft in places. This shouldn’t be too much of an inconvenience to early market leader Huntsmans Close who has previously won on heavy and placed on soft ground although it is worth noting his best form overall has been on good-to-firm ground. He boasts a 58% strike rate for career top three finishes and cannot be discounted.
Dutch Masterpiece comes next in the market and has won an impressive six from thirteen over five furlongs. He notched up a hat-trick of wins over todays’ trip on good ground in the summer of 2013 so has to be considered a danger if the rain gives way and the ground dries out a little by race time.
Of the remainder, Tangerine Trees is a previous Group 1 winner and enters calculations as he has won a listed race on soft ground off todays’ mark, albeit four years ago while ten year old Silvanus steps up in grade off a career high mark in in his attempt to make it three wins in a row. He has winning form on good-to soft so cannot be discounted, although has a poor record of no wins from six here at York which tempers enthusiasm somewhat.
In a difficult opener made even tougher with the change in the weather, my tentative selection is Dutch Masterpiece in the hope that the weather improves as forecast.
Dutch Masterpiece (E/W)
The second race live on Channel 4 is the Group 3 Acomb Stakes and looks another competitive looking race with three runners all vying for favouritism at the time of writing. Adventurous is the only one of the ten runners who didn’t win on his last outing, although he wasn’t disgraced when finishing fourth in a Group 2 and was a ready winner under William Buick, who renews their partnership again today, on his penultimate run.
Lieutenant General placed in a Group 3 at Leopardstown last month but was still beaten by five lengths. He ran out a two length winner next time out but that was back in a maiden and was on good-to-firm ground so I feel there are better options elsewhere.
Recorder has to be considered on the back of his win on soft ground over todays’ race distance at Newmarket last month and will no doubt have his supporters with in-form jockey Frankie Dettori on board but preference is for Mohab.
The selection strolled to an eight length victory when last seen at Catterick earlier this month and was placed over course and distance on his racetrack debut in July. The improvement between races was impressive and he is taken to continue to improve again with jockey Graham Lee continuing in the driving seat.
Mohab (E/W if 9/2+)
This race looks to be a battle between two Sea The Stars kids, in Storm The Stars and Tashaar. Storm The Stars has placed in his last three runs, all at Group 1 level, and is undoubtedly the one to follow in terms of achievements. He has won on good ground and placed on both good–to-soft and soft ground so should be at home however the weather turns. However, he has now contested seven races in four months and there is the danger that this might catch up with him today.
Tashaar quickened well to win his last race a lot easier than the official distance suggests as he was heavily eased towards the line. With a perfect record of two wins from two runs he looks one to follow and could be the one to win today on his way to even bigger and better things.
Of the remainder, Bondi Beach was a Group 3 winner when last seen, with the runner up going on to win next time out, so may be the most likely to benefit should the two mentioned above perform below par.
Tashaar (E/W if 9/2+)
If the weather had been kind and the ground remained good/good-to-firm we could have been looking at a potentially classic Juddmonte renewal and a likely duel between the unbeaten Golden Horn and one mile superstar Gleneagles. However, despite the uncertainty surrounding Gleneagles participation due to the ground this should still prove to be an exciting race thanks to the potential of Time Test.
The Roger Charlton trained Time Test has won his last two races, most recently the Group 3 Tercentenary Stakes at Ascot. Although this represents a step up in grade he has previous winning form on good-to-soft ground having won at Sandown last August and has won his last two races over todays’ trip. He has an exciting future ahead and represents the best each way value in the race.
2000 Guineas and Irish 2000 Guineas winner Gleneagles has proved to be pretty much unbeatable over a mile and, despite stepping up in trip for todays’ race and the heavily publicised concern over the ground conditions, he has proven himself consistently at Group 1 level and cannot be completely discounted.
However, despite the short odds I feel it is impossible to get away from the favourite Golden Horn. He has won the Dante, the Derby and most recently the Coral Eclipse and has done so in impressive fashion. I am loathe to tip an odds on shot as it seems the easy option to take but in this instance I think Golden Horn will prove he is the best by adding another win to his impressive tally.
Golden Horn (WIN)