James Doyle is in action at York. Image Credit: Reuters

Dubai: York Racecourse in the UK, widely regarded as one of the world’s great racecourses, is all set for some fireworks when Frankie Dettori and James Doyle continue their high-octane big-race rivalry on the opening day of the prestigious Ebor Festival which starts on Wednesday.

Dettori, who is in the best form of his life with 13 Group 1 victories this season, and Doyle, no slouch either when it comes to nailing the big one, go head-to-head in the £1 million Juddmonte International, the showpiece event that customarily lays down a marker for the four-day meeting.

Voted the world’s top race in 2012-2014, the 2,000 metre contest has attracted a high-class field of nine runners led by Crystal Ocean, winner of three of his four starts this season including the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot in June.

The five-year-old son of Sea The Stars, who is raced by the legendary Sir Michael Stoute, was narrowly denied a fourth victory of the season when he went down by a neck to the fabulous Enable in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot in July.

Doyle, who was in the irons on that occasion, was denied victory in a major race for the second time in the season by Dettori, having also had to settle for second place in the Jean Prat at Deauville in France in June.

However, the Godolphin rider goes into the International aboard the 5/4 favourite Crystal Ocean, while Dettori partners the 7/2 second favourite, King Of Comedy, who was only beaten a neck by Circus Maximus at Royal Ascot on his last start.

Other notable contenders are Royal Ascot scorer Japan, Elarqam, winner of the York Stakes at this course last month and Lord Glitters, winner of the Queen Anne also at the Royal meeting in June.

Dettori is the most successful jockey in the International with five wins, while Doyle is looking to lift the prestigious trophy for the first time.

Elarqam was supplemented to the race at a cost of £75,000 (Dh332,250) and will bid to secure a second International trophy for Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, after Nayef triumphed back in 2002.

Japanese runner Cheval Grand, who was a respectable sixth behind Enable in the King George, provides the international flavour to York’s richest race of the season.

Enable was withdrawn from the race and will instead head to the Darley Yorkshire Oaks on Thursday.

Wednesday’s card also features the Group 2 Great Voltigeur Stakes and the Group 3 Acomb Stakes.

Nayef Road, a recent winner at Glorious Goodwood, takes his chance for Dubai owner Mohammad Obaida in the former while the Shaikh Mohammad Obaid Al Maktoum-owned Yorkshire Gold had a leading chance in the Acomb.

York’s Ebor Meeting

Feature races


Juddmonte International


Yorkshire Oaks


Nunthorpe Stakes


Ebor Handicap