Dubai: The British racing juggernaut heads north for the much-anticipated York Ebor Festival which showcases some of the country’s oldest and most famous races against a backdrop of high-fashion and top-class entertainment.
The four-day extravaganza, which kicks-off today with a mouth-watering six-race card highlighted by the £750,000 (Dh4.308 million) Juddmonte International Stakes (G1), has been a happy hunting ground for horse owners from the UAE.
No less than eight Maktoum-owned horses have won the 2,000 metre contest in the last 20 years, with the Godolphin stable being the most success with four victories courtesy Halling (1995, 1996), Sakhee (2001), Sulamani (2004).
Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, lifted the trophy in 2004 when Nayef claimed York’s richest race, while the late Shaikh Maktoum Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, scored back-to-back victories in 1993-’94 with Ezzoud.
The Ebor meeting also features notable highlights like the Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks (Thursday),the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes (Friday) and the Gimcrack Stakes (Saturday).
However, Wednesday’s action looks the strongest of the week with the Group 3 Acomb Stakes and Group 2 Great Voltigeur Stakes complimenting the International Stakes.
Godolphin continue their seemingly unstoppable pursuit of major trophies with several top contenders being rolled out for the event’s principle races.
While they are without a runner in the Juddmonte, which looks to be a clash between the unbeaten Al Kazeem and Toronado, watch out for the stable’s Cap O’rushes and Secret Number in the Voltigeur, a testing 2,400 metre contest which serves as a trial for next month’s English St Leger (G1).
The pair come up against Sir Michael Stoute’s one-time Epsom Derby favourite Telescope who will be looking to atone for his shock defeat to Mike de Kock’s David Livingston in the Rose of Lancaster Stakes (G1) at Haydock.
The Charlie Appleby-trained Cap O’rushes, who comes into the race on the back of a confidence-boosting victory in the Group 3 Gordon Stakes at Goodwood, can maintain his ascent to the upper ranks with a victory at York under Mickael Barzalona.
Secret Number, who represents Saeed Bin Surour, was fifth on that occasion, but has a bad trip to blame for his performance.
A decisive winner of the Listed al Bastakiya at Meydan in March, the son of Raven’s Pass will be ridden with a lot more confidence by Silvestre de Sousa as he bids to secured for Bin Surour a fourth victory in the Voltigeur after Rule of Law (2004), Stowaway (1997) and Sea Waves (1998).
A total of seven horses have been declared for the race including the Eve Johnson-Houghton-trained Spillway and John Gosden’s Nichols Canyon
Foundry represents Aidan O’Brien a two-time winner with Powerscourt (2003) Milan (2001)
Local hopes centre on Ann Duffield’s Willie The Whipper who was sixth to Intello in the Prix du Jockey-Club at Chantilly in early June on his most recent outing.
Bin Surour also saddles First Flight in the Acomb, a race which offers a glimpse into the future with leading horses heading to the following year’s Classics.
Other top juveniles in the fray include Kevin Ryan’s The Grey Gatsby, the Clive Birttain-trained Brazos and Daniel Kubler’s Il Paparazzi.