Stratum among full field of 20 for £500,000 Sky Bet Ebor, the richest Flat handicap ever run in Europe


Favourite Stratum heads a maximum field of 20 going for glory in the Sky Bet Ebor, the famous heritage handicap staged over a mile and six furlongs at York this Saturday, August 25, the fourth and final day of the Welcome To Yorkshire Ebor Festival.


The Sky Bet Ebor, with a total prize fund of £500,000 rising to £1-million in 2019, is the richest Flat handicap ever run Europe.


Stratum (Willie Mullins/Robert Winston, 9st 2lb), the 7/2 market leader with sponsor Sky Bet, has topped the betting since posting an easy three-length victory in the JLT Cup at Newbury on July 21.


Ireland’s champion Jump trainer Willie Mullins, who captured the Sky Bet Ebor with Sesenta in 2009, has another well-fancied contender in G1-winning hurdler Whiskey Sour (William Buick, 9st 3lb, 15/2 with Sky Bet).


Blakeney Point (Roger Charlton/Jamie Spencer, 9st 5lb) is the shortest-priced British-trained challenger with Sky Bet at 7/1. He shaped with promise when a staying-on fourth in the G3 Glorious Stakes over 12 furlongs at Goodwood on August 3.


The 112-rated Weekender (John Gosden/Frankie Dettori, 12/1), who was beaten a neck by Marmelo in the Listed Sky Bet Grand Cup over course and distance on June 16, heads the weights on 9st 12lb. No top-weight has won the Sky Bet Ebor since the great Sea Pigeon defied 10st in 1979.


Last year’s winner Nakeeta (Iain Jardine/Callum Rodriguez (3), 9st 7lb, 10/1) could become just the second two-time winner of the race, following on from Flint Jack who won back-to-back renewals in 1922 and 1923. Nakeeta showed clear signs of a return to form when fifth behind Stratum at Newbury last time out.


Newmarket trainer Marco Botti has two in-form contenders in Dylan Mouth (Gerald Mosse, 9st 10lb, 16/1), winner of the G3 John Smith’s Silver Cup over course and distance on July 14, and Old Newton Cup Handicap second Crowned Eagle (Daniel Muscutt, 9st 7lb, 11/1).


Hughie Morrison is chasing a first Sky Bet Ebor success with Fun Mac (David Probert, 9st 2lb, 33/1). The seven-year-old finished second behind Magic Circle in the Chester Cup in May and was last seen out when a close third in a Listed race at Maisons-Lafitte, France, on July 22.


Morrison said today: ““Fun Mac is in good form at home and has come out of his latest run in France very well.

“He has been running well all season. He is a horse who looks after himself and that is probably the reason he still running at the age of seven.


“He has the ability to compete in this sort of race and he was 10th in the race in 2016.


“Fun Mac wants good ground and I think one mile and six furlongs could be one of his best trips. We are hopeful of another good run.”


November Handicap victor Saunter (Ian Williams/Fran Berry, 9st 5lb, 18/1) has a 7lb penalty following wins at Compiegne and Newmarket, while Teodoro (Tom Dascombe/Richard Kingscote, 9st 5lb, 14/1) has a 4lb penalty after his front-running victory in the G3 Rose Of Lancaster Stakes at Haydock Park on August 11.


The four Irish-trained runners are completed by progressive seven-year-old Sea The Lion (Jarlath Fahey IRE/Ronan Whelan, 9st 4lb, 16/1), successful in all three starts so far this season, and the Ger Lyons-trained Mustajeer (Gary Carroll, 9st 8lb, 25/1), who was a close fourth in G2 company at Naas in May.


Andrew Balding is doubly represented by last year’s G2 Weatherbys Hamilton Insurance Lonsdale Cup winner Montaly (PJ McDonald, 9st 5lb, 33/1) and Scotland (9st 8lb, Jason Watson, 33/1), while Weekender’s trainer John Gosden also runs Muntahaa (9st 9lb, Jim Crowley, 18/1), a staying-on fourth in the G2 Princess of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket last month.


The 20 runners are completed by Mountain Bell (Ralph Beckett/Andrew Breslin (5), 9st 2lb, 33/1)), the only filly or mare in the field, Lord Yeats (Jedd O’Keeffe/Graham Lee, 9st 6lb, 33/1), Time To Study (Mark Johnston/Silvestre de Sousa, 9st 6lb, 25/1), Platitude (Amanda Perrett/Daniel Tudhope, 9st 4lb, 20/1) and My Reward (Tim Easterby/David Allan, 9st 3lb, 33/1).


The two reserves are Saigon City (Declan Carroll/Ger O’Neill (5), 9st 2lb, 33/1)), an impressive winner at Doncaster in March, and recent Goodwood scorer Sir Chauvelin (Jim Goldie/Daniel Tudhope, 9st 2lb, 12/1).


Speaking yesterday, Declan Carroll, who trains at Norton Grange Stables in North Yorkshire, said: “Saigon City is in good form. He won nicely at Doncaster in March and he does appreciate give in the ground.


“The Sky Bet Ebor has been a target this year, but because we wanted some cut in the ground, we have been limited in what races we could target due to the warm weather.


“We couldn’t be happier with him at home and it looks like the track may get some rain in the coming days, so we will see how that affects the going.”


Reserves can come into the race if there are any withdrawals before 1.00pm tomorrow, Friday, August 24.


Michael Shinners, Racing PR Manager at Sky Bet, said: “The 2018 £500,000 Sky Bet Ebor will be the richest Flat handicap ever run in Europe and we have been rewarded with a quality field.


“Stratum has been rock-solid at the head of the market since his success at Newbury last month and could still be very unexposed.


“The Sky Bet Ebor is one of the big betting handicaps of the year and Sky Bet is delighted to be paying seven places on the 2018 renewal.”


Sky Bet Ebor – Sky Bet prices:


7/2 Stratum


7/1 Blakeney Point


15/2 Whiskey Sour


10/1 Nakeeta


11/1 Crowned Eagle


12/1 Sir Chauvelin, Weekender


14/1 Teodoro


16/1 Dylan Mouth, Sea The Lion


18/1 Muntahaa, Saunter


20/1 Platitude


25/1 Mustajeer, Time To Study


33/1 Fun Mac, Lord Yeats, Montaly, Mountain Bell, My Reward, Saigon City, Scotland


Each-Way: 1/5 odds for first SEVEN places


Also at York on Saturday, the £125,000 Sky Bet Melrose Handicap (2.25pm) for three-year-olds is the first of three races, all run at York, in which the winner will be guaranteed a start in the 2019 Sky Bet Ebor.


Entitled the “Race To The Ebor”, the new initiative also includes the Sky Bet Jorvik Handicap at the Dante Festival in May and the Listed Sky Bet Grand Cup in June.


The 16 runners in the Sky Bet Melrose Handicap include Corgi (Hughie Morrison), who has finished second in similarly competitive 12-furlong handicaps at Royal Ascot and Glorious Goodwood, plus unexposed pair Mekong (Sir Michael Stoute/Daniel Tudhope) and Supernova (David Simcock/Jamie Spencer).
G1 Sussex Stakes third Lord Glitters (David O’Meara/Danny Tudhope) faces eight rivals in the £100,000 G3 Sky Bet And Symphony Group Strensall Stakes (1.50pm) over nine furlongs.


The opposition includes the Sir Michael Stoute-trained pair of Mustashry (Jim Crowley), successful in Listed company at Sandown Park last time out, and three-year-old Zaaki (Frankie Dettori).


Expert Eye (Sir Michael Stoute/Frankie Dettori), who finished one place ahead of Lord Glitters in the G1 Sussex Stakes, is the headline act in the £180,000 G3 Sky Bet City Of York Stakes (3.00pm, nine runners) over seven furlongs.


Sky Bet sponsor six of the seven races on the final day of the Welcome To Yorkshire Ebor Festival.


The going at York is currently Good to Firm, Good in places. There was 2.8 millimetres of rain on Wednesday evening, making a total of 42 millimetres in August. The forecast for the remainder of the Welcome To Yorkshire Ebor Festival is predominantly dry, with the chance of showers later this afternoon and also on Friday afternoon.

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