There was some terrific racing over the four days of the York Ebor Festival with the highlight being Ulysses's victory in the Juddmonte International. Thanks to Cliffs of Moher and Barney Roy, the race was run at a decent pace and played into the hands of Sir Michael Stoute's four year old. Cruising throughout, he readily went past Churchill and Barney Roy to record a two lengths success and set up another possible tilt at the Breeders' Cup Turf. While he stays a mile and a half, his best form is over shorter and he has developed into a top-class four year old. Churchill probably didn't appreciate the easy ground and may prove best over shorter trips, while Barney Roy was given a strange ride. Richard Hannon's three year old would surely have benefited from being held up rather than going head to head with Ballydoyle's 'pacemaker.' He played into the hands of Jim Crowley and Ulysses.
The Nunthorpe was billed as a match between three year olds Lady Aurelia and Battaash but once again the Group 1 event went the way of an older rival. Marsha, who won the Abbaye last Autumn and the Palace House Stakes under a penalty on her reappearance, emphatically turned the tables on Charlie Hills' runner and just got the better of the US trained filly on the line. Sir Mark Prescott's filly travelled supremely well sitting on the tail of Battaash before being unleashed by Luke Morris. Lady Aurelia is arguably a better filly on a sounder surface and she may have peaked at Royal Ascot but it was still a tremendous performance by Marsha. At the moment, Battaash may be hugely talented but hasn't got the temperament to match getting worked up beforehand.
Enable landed her fourth Group 1 win with an all the way success in the Yorkshire Oaks on Thursday. Frankie Dettori sent the Nathaniel filly to the front from the outset and maintained her advantage all the way to the line. The Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe is next. The rain which fell on Wednesday morning didn't do Nezwaah's chances any favours - I am sure she is better than she showed here, while Queen's Trust confirmed the view that she is better over ten furlongs.
I was impressed with Mojito's victory in the one mile three year old handicap on Friday. William Haggas' colt is improving at a rapid rate of knots winning three on the bounce. A step up in class is likely to be next and he ought to make a smashing four year old next season.
As far as the York Update was concerned, it was a good week with 6 winners, although the last day was very disappointing. My two selections in the Ebor were well beaten, although I think Top Tug, who was lame afterwards, was just beginning to mount a challenge when badly hampered in a rough race. Scarlet Dragon was immediately dropped out in an attempt to settle him but he forfeited too much ground in doing so. Making headway in the homestraight, he ultimately didn't stay but was asked to make up too much ground in a short space of time. The ten furlongs handicap on Saturday was a big anti-climax with both Khairaat (also found to be lame) and UAE Prince running poorly. The last named is proving very expensive to follow and patience is wearing thin with Roger Varian's four year old. Mori's run in the Galtres Stakes was too bad to be true - perhaps the ground was too soft even though both her parents handled an easy surface. As discussed earlier in the week, we didn't have the rub of the green with the draw on occasions because I am sure it cost both Hey Jonesy and Suedois in their respective races.
With York now a distant memory, it is time to crack on with One Jump Ahead which I am hoping to take to the printers in a few weeks with a view to it being printed by the end of next month. I will be updating the Publications section with full details of the new edition but want to get the book finished first. The full list for the Talking Trainers section is Brian Ellison, Harry Fry, Philip Hobbs, Malcolm Jefferson, Alan King, Tom Lacey (New), Paul Nicholls, Olly Murphy (New), Ben Pauling, David Pipe and Colin Tizzard (New).
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