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2019 Ebor Festival tips - Tips for the three Group Ones at York next week

Crystal Ocean looks very hard to oppose in the first Group One at York next week.

Our expert takes a closer look at the three Group Ones at York next week and provides readers with his tips for the major races at the Ebor Festival from Wednesday 21st August.

The Ebor Festival is one of the most looked-forward to meeting on the entire flat racing calendar, with the namesake race of the meeting, the hugely lucrative Ebor Handicap taking pride of place in the centre of Saturday’s card. The three preceding days all feature a fantastic Group One, the Juddmonte International, the Yorkshire Oaks and the thrilling Nunthorpe Stakes.

Our expert has taken a look at the ante-post betting for all three of these prestigious races and provides readers with his betting suggestions.

2019 Ebor Festival Group One Tips

21/8/19 3:35pm Juddmonte International Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions Series) 1m2½f 

I've already backed Japan to win the St Leger next month, so to see Aidan O'Brien's charge dropped back to a mile-and-a-quarter here is a little disappointing. Despite the fact his stablemates picking up both the British and Irish Derby's, I don't think there's any doubting Japan's position as Ballydoyle's best middle-distance colt. He will have enough class to contend at York, but I'd be surprised if he had the finishing kick to win over this 10 furlong trip.

With Enable set to return to the Yorkshire Oaks, CRYSTAL OCEAN is the class-act in this year's Juddmonte International and it's hard to see why the highest-rated flat horse in Europe won't bounce back to winning ways.

Crystal Ocean finally sealed the Group One victory his career deserved at Royal Ascot, blasting through the rain under Frankie Dettori to win the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes. A furious battle down then ensued down the home straight at Ascot the King George. Enable narrowly prevailed, ensuring Stoute’s charge had to settle for second in that historic contest for the second year on the bounce.

Dropping back a furlong-and-a-half in trip won’t be a problem for this powerful horse and the prospect of ground softer than good only thrusts the ball further into Crystal Ocean’s court. On the day, 6/4 could look extremely good value.

If you’re looking for an each-way alternative, then supplementary entry Elarqam – who bounced back to top form when beating Addeybb and Regal Reality in the York Stakes – could be a good place to start. That being said, CIRCUS MAXIMUS could be well-suited by stepping back up in trip and he’s clearly in very good form, having first beaten Too Darn Hot in the St James’s Palace Stakes, before a narrow defeat in the Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood. If entered, Circus Maximus will be a big player.

Main Bet – CRYSTAL OCEAN (6/4 William Hill)
Next Best - CIRCUS MAXIMUS e/w (8/1 Coral)

22/8/19 Darley Yorkshire Oaks (Group 1) (British Champions Series) (Fillies & Mares) 1m4f

Enable is going to win this race for the second time, but there’s no point backing John Gosden’s superstar at 1/5. So, a couple of each-way bets will be the order of the day and the one who makes the loudest appeal for selection is Enable’s stablemate, ANAPURNA.

Like Enable, Anapurna made her debut on the all-weather, losing on her first outing at Wolverhampton before getting off the mark at Lingfield in January. John Gosden then sent Anapurna back to Lingfield, this time to the turf track, to test her quality in the Oaks Trial and Anapurna didn't disappoint, surging clear of her rivals on rain-sodden ground to secure a comfortably victory.

Although she won that Trial extremely convincingly, few really fancied Anapurna when she turned up at Epsom. Yet, Frankie Dettori's mount proved all her doubters wrong, battling back bravely after being passed by Pink Dogwood to snatch victory in the Oaks.

Gosden has kept his filly on ice since then, preparing her for a lucrative autumn campaign. A good run her behind Enable will set Anapurna up perfectly for a tilt at the Filles' & Mares' at Ascot on Champions' Day.

Main Bet – ANAPURNA e/w (12/1 Paddy Power)

23/8/19 3:35pm Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions Series) (Class 1) 5f

Battaash is as good as they come when it comes to five-furlong sprinters. Charlie Hills' charge does, however, clearly have a dislike for the track here at York and he’s there to be shot at again at the top of the market. Ten Sovereigns was simply peerless in the July Cup but, for a horse who ran in the Guineas, dropping back to the minimum trip could prove difficult and connections would be best served to wait for the Sprint Cup at Haydock.

Mabs Cross, edged out by Alpha Delphini 12 months ago, has continued to run consistently well this season, but her odds look a little short for an each-way punt. Only four two-year-olds have been strong enough to win the Nunthorpe in it’s near-100 year history, emphasising the task A’Ali has on his hands.

Given there are question marks against those topping the market, there’s plenty of scope for an each-way punt in this year’s Nunthorpe. Invincible Army and Hello Youmzain are both highly capable sprinters who will be suited by the ground conditions, but the Sprint Cup seems to be the priority for both. 

Garrus may have gotten the better of SOLIDER’S CALL on the two occasions they have clashed this season. However, Archie Watson’s colt often saves his best for the big occasion and he could be an excellent each-way punt in this year’s Nunthorpe. 

Watson’s colt ended a hugely successful two-year-old campaign with a narrow defeat behind his elders in the Abbaye and a decent sixth on his Breeders’ Cup debut. Soldier’s Call first met Garrus here at York on his reappearance and, although he had to settle for third behind his rival, Soldier’s Call ran an excellent race from the front under a five-pound penalty.

Danny Tudhope’s mount then proved he was a high-calibre sprinter by following Battaash and Blue Point home in the Kings’ Stand Stakes, holding off Mabs Cross and Fairyland to claim third. Things didn’t go to plan in the Sapphire Stakes last time out, but I’m confident Soldier’s Call will return to top form in time for the Nunthorpe.

If I was going to back one of the outsiders to cause a Alpha Delphini-size upset, then it would probably be El Astronaute, who may have been well-beaten at Goodwood, but he's had much more joy here at York down the years and tends to produce his best form in August/September time.

Main Bet – SOLDIER’S CALL e/w (12/1 Paddy Power)
Next Best –  EL ASTRONAUTE e/w (33/1 Coral)

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2019 Ebor Festival tips - Tips for the three Group Ones at York next week

Our expert takes a closer look at the three Group Ones at York next week and provides readers with his tips for the major races at the Ebor Festival from Wednesday 21st August.

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