The Insider: Get your Wadd on
The Insider runs the rule over the leading candidates for the Betfred Ebor and nominates an ante-post selection.
The Ebor is Europe's richest handicap and it's fair to say that a fair few trainers will have had York's staying handicap in mind for much of this season, if not last as well.
There aren't many better 'target' trainers than Sir Mark Prescott and punters have latched on to Pallasator following his winning reappearance at Ascot over a mile and a half.
The Baronet has presumably believed for a while that there was a decent prize to be won with the five-year-old on the Flat as he has the size and scope to make it under National Hunt Rules and the stable's horses usually attract a premium at the horses-in-training sales.
Fifth in the Cesarewitch last season, his turn of foot to seal the race in Berkshire was particularly impressive and the Motivator gelding took some pulling up too. He clearly heads north in a fortnight's time with leading claims but at 5/1 and shorter he's easy to resist now until the day.
Fellow Newmarket raiders Havana Cooler and Mighty Yar are next in the betting and both have run well at the track in the past which is a bonus as not every horse seems to act around here since the drainage work was completed.
The former was placed over course and distance last season and has run a couple of decent trials, including when edged out by another contender in Van Percy at Glorious Goodwood last week.
The latter has had just the one attempt over the mile six trip but appears to be crying out for a step up in distance judged by his last two runs over a mile and a half and the stiffer test could well unlock some improvement from Lady Cecil's grey.
The wayward Wadi Al Hattawi is another that could be suited by the return to York and the step up in trip. A line can be put through his run at Royal Ascot as the track just doesn't suit his running style.
He was seriously impressive at York prior to that and could still be a step ahead of the handicapper despite an 11lb hike in the weights. His winning margin was just a length and a quarter but could have been so much more as this quirky individual pulled himself up in front.
You can watch the video replay for and judge for yourself here.
The rise in the weights brings him up to a mark of 99 which looks a perfect fit for the race with the last four scorers having been rated 98, 101, 99 and 100.
One of those victories was achieved by stablemate Willing Foe who was stepping up to the trip for the first time so the similarities are there and the Godolphin-owned runner appeals at a top-priced 16/1.
Willing Foe scraped home by a neck from the Andrew Tinkler-owned Royal Diamond (with the Sir Mark Prescott-trained 7/2 favourite Motivado in fourth) and the owner has an interesting candidate for this year's renewal in Ursa Major.
The winner of the Irish St Leger Trial in 2012, he was fourth in the Classic at Doncaster that year but then absent until making his debut for Johnny Murtagh over an inadequate 10 furlongs in June of this year.
He shaped as though he had retained his ability and a mark of 106 could underestimate him given that his official rating was 111 when running on Town Moor.
The Galileo gelding has had just eight career starts so, arguably, remains open to improvement and Irish handlers do have a good record in this contest with Aidan O'Brien, Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins all taking the spoils back across the sea in recent years.
The recent unsettled weather is in his favour as he is unraced on fast turf and was a non-runner at Roscommon in July when conditions were on the quick side.
It's possible that he does need soft ground to show his best but Murtagh does have another candidate in Mutual Regard, a former stablemate of Pallasator, who is less dependent upon ground conditions.
Impressive in a handicap on debut for the yard, he was a respectable third in Listed company last time when shaping as though he'd have appreciated a stronger pace but he is a bit more exposed than his current stablemate who may just have a touch more class and is preferred.
However, clearly Ursa Major hasn't been easy to train and it may be best to wait until his participation has been confirmed before parting with the hard-earned.