Al Kazeem and Toronado clash on opening day of York’s Ebor Festival
The surprise decision by Richard Hannon to run Toronado in the International Stakes has set up an intriguing clash with multiple Group 1 winner Al Kazeem. Hannon’s colt finally got the better of old adversary Dawn Approach in a thrilling duel in the Sussex Stakes and now steps up to a mile and a quarter for the first time.
With only six runners, the pace looks likely to be set by Irish Derby winner Trading Leather who has since finished second to the impressive Novellist at Ascot. Hillstar, third on that occasion, is another that is likely to be better suited by a strong pace with Declaration Of War and the outsider Rewarded completing the field.
The Ebor meeting gets under way at 1.55 with a typically competitive York sprint. Above Standard ran well when fourth at Goodwood last time when attempting to complete a hat-trick whilst Cheviot and Doctor Parkes both arrive in winning form.
Sir Michael Stoute doesn’t have many sprint handicappers in training and Ladyship takes a drop in class after running respectably in a Group 3 at Goodwood. She was beaten only three lengths over seven furlongs that day but her running style suggests she may do better at six.
The unbeaten First Flight and The Great Gatsby could fight out the finish of the Acomb Stakes at 2.30. The Great Gatsby ran green on his debut but still holds Brazos on that form and he looks sure to improve.
Stoute believes that Telescope has been harshly treated in the press after his defeat at Haydock last time out and the colt has a chance to redeem his reputation in the Great Voltigeur at 3.05. Aidan O’Brien relies on the unbeaten Foundry but a bigger danger could be Godolphin’s Cap O’Rushes who stuck on well to win the Gordon Stakes.
Mark Johnston’s Broxbourne has a chance to resume winning ways after finishing sixth behind Homeric at the Shergar Cup. She was ridden by Lisa Allpress on that occasion but may benefit from the stronger handling of Joe Fanning.
The stables of Hannon and Fahey each saddle three runners in the closing Nursery at 4.55. Top weighted Coulsty has the best form in the book but Banaadeer and Tanseeb also have strong claims in a wide open race.
Selections: 1.55 Ladyship, 2.30 The Great Gatsby, 3.05 Telescope, 3.40 Al Kazeem (NAP), 4.20 Broxbourne (nb), 4.55 Banaadeer