Despite the victories of Lusail (7/2), Space Blues (11/8) and Blackrod (5/1) on Friday and Saturday, I was disappointed with the York Ebor Festival Update. Having looked forward to the Sky Bet Ebor itself for a number of weeks, the race proved a huge anti-climax with the selections failing to get involved. Mirann travelled well and held every chance approaching the two marker but didn't pick up and was ultimately well beaten. The well supported Mt Leinster was slowly away and never looked like getting involved. Willie Mullins' gelding carried plenty of stable confidence but he never left the rear of the field.
Space Blues was arguably the bet of the week and the five year old was always in control in the Group 2 City of York Stakes. The Charlie Appleby trained horse had shaped well at Goodwood last time and confirmed it with an easy success under William Buick. The Group 1 Prix de la Foret is likely to be his main end of season target. Thankfully, Billy Garritty saved our skin in the finale, the five furlongs apprentice race with Blackrod following up his win at Newmarket's July meeting. Needing every yard of the trip, the son of Mayson led close home and is a smart sprinting prospect for next season.
Even though the results weren't particularly favourable, I enjoyed the two days I attended the Knavesmire. The duel between Stradivarius and Spanish Mission in the Group 2 Lonsdale Cup was a cracker with the former protecting his unbeaten record at the track. Now seven, he has been a remarkable horse winning four Goodwood Cups, three Ascot Gold Cups and three Lonsdale Cups, along with a couple of Yorkshire Cups. A seven times Group 1 winner, the Doncaster Cup would be a logical next target.
The Nunthorpe Stakes lived up to the billing with it being fast and furious from the outset. One can't help thinking Golden Pal went too quick and was a spent force by the time he hit the furlong marker. On the other hand, Winter Power produced a terrific performance because she was always in the firing line and had enough in reserve to hang on. Rarely do you see the runners in a Group 1 sprint being strung out so much after a furlong and a half. Que Amoro, who is blessed with blistering pace, was only fourth after a furlong - that's how fast they were going. I was delighted for Tim Easterby because he has always rated Winter Power very highly. He was adamant she would be a Royal Ascot filly last season but she failed to win her first two starts at Newcastle and Wolverhampton and was on the backfoot after that. However, the Great Habton trainer gave her time and she came good in the second half of the season. That progress has continued this term and she became the first three year old filly to win the race since Margot Did ten years ago. It will have given Easterby an enormous amount of pleasure.
The Update had a winner on Sunday with Paul Nicholls steering us in the right direction with Duc De Bourbon (15/8) at Worcester. The multiple champion trainer felt the J.P.McManus owned gelding was in good form at home and so it proved as he hacked up in the two and a half miles handicap hurdle. Lorcan Williams sat motionless for much of the contest as he stretched away to win by ten lengths. With that in mind, I will be concentrating on the forthcoming edition of One Jump Ahead this week, in between trips to Catterick (Wednesday) and Hamilton (Friday).
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