York’s Ebor meeting reaches its conclusion with the titular 14f handicap forming the betting race of the day.
This distance, on a sharpish course like York, brings together 2-milers stepping back and 12f horses stepping up, with few specialists at this intermediate trip.
Favourite Flymetothestars is one stepping back after a good 3rd in the Northumberland Plate. He has yet to race on turf and looks short enough given the change in distance and under-hoof conditions.
In contrast, no-one can doubt Magic Circle’s effectiveness having won here earlier in the week. He can be as effective at this trip, but this is a stronger race and he will have his work cut out to follow up.
We have been big fans of Top Tug this season, and his 4th at Ascot over 12f last time was still pretty much a lifetime best. We would be surprised if he is out of the frame, but a poor run in this race last year just tempers enthusiasm.
Instead we will opt for jumps maestro Willie Mullins continuing his great run in flat staying handicaps courtesy of useful hurdler Ivan Grozny. He hasn’t run on the flat since two runs last season, a plugging on effort over 12f at Ascot and a romp at Galway, but has been busy over hurdles and is the choice from a stable that had any number of contenders for this prize.
Bet of the day is over at Goodwood. Perilous as it is to back anything on the turning 7f that often features hard luck stories, we can’t resist a good punt on Ultimate Avenue. This promising 3yo ran an absolute blinder from off the pace in a strong 6f handicap at Newmarket last time, and it could be significant that top hold-up jockey Jamie Spencer retains the ride. Well drawn to tuck in, Spencer can be trusted to deliver this fella fast and late for the win.
The biggest danger is Johnny Barnes. He was withdrawn last weekend when we couldn’t choose between him and Bertiewhittle (who then won at 12/1). They re-oppose, but Bertie is worse off at the weights and terribly drawn here. Johnny may have preferred the ground to stay a little softer, and we think a straight course may suit him best.
Ultimate Avenue, (1435 Goodwood), 2pts win, 13/2 William Hill
Ivan Grozny, (1535 York), 1pt win, 8/1 generally available
Ultimate Avenue & Ivan Grozny, 1pt each way double, approx. 66/1
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