Take the Gambol at York
Man On The Spot provides a race-by-race guide to the first day of York's Ebor Festival with Gambol among his fancies.
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See The Sun won a valuable contest here in June but is one of several that like to force the pace in today's line-up. Caspian Prince, Free Zone and Peterkin are others who like to lead while Move In Time was always prominent when just touched off by Goldream at Ascot on Shergar Cup day when Racy was behind. That could set things up for a finisher with Kimberella fancied having got going too late in the Great St Wilfrid at Ripon on Saturday. Blaine won a decent contest at Hamilton last month but then finished behind Ashpan Sam and York Glory in the Stewards' Cup at Goodwood. SECRET WITNESS has won over 6f here and was third over 5f off today's mark in May so this intermediate distance should be ideal. He thrives on racing so it's not a worry that he finished unplaced at Doncaster at the weekend and he could go close at a big price in a very tricky opener.
Treaty Of Paris was an 11/1 chance when landing this 12 months ago but it's normally a race for fancied runners. Basateen looks likely to start favourite this year having won by eight lengths at Doncaster following a debut third at Newmarket but GROWL (NAP) looked one to follow when making a winning start at Ascot. He was easy to back on that occasion as he looked as though the run would do him good but quickened impressively to score and the third has franked the form since. Misleading also won on debut, at Goodwood, but that form has still to be advertised and more interesting is the progressive Prince Gagarin. Jamaica represents Ballydoyle and has the usual clutch of big-race entries. He easily justified favouritism at Galway but may already be looking for a longer distance. Dutch Connection looks the pick of the remainder.
Kingston Hill was the only one to make a race of it with Australia in the Epsom Derby and was strongly fancied to go one better in the Coral-Eclipse. But he was never going the pace at Sandown, only staying on when the leaders had flown. Undoubtedly, a return to 1m4f will suit but connections would have been hoping for a slightly easier surface. At the likely odds, it may be worth taking on Roger Varian's colt with POSTPONED. The latter may be improving as he was most impressive when beating subsequent Goodwood winner Double Bluff in a Listed race at Hamilton last time and has nothing to fear from Odeon on that run. Sir Michael Stoute has trained two of the last three winners and has landed this traditional St Leger trial on six occasions so Snow Sky is greatly respected arriving off the back of a brave victory in the Gordon Stakes when Observational and Red Galileo were behind. He beat Hartnell in the Derby Trial at Lingfield in May but the latter has improved since with wins at Ascot and Newmarket and is a stout stayer.
AUSTRALIA has some big autumn targets and Aidan O'Brien has confided that his new stable star will probably be a bit heavier than ideal for his reappearance following a summer break. The drop back in distance may not be ideal either but a strong pace in this looks guaranteed, despite the small field, and the dual Derby winner looks the one to beat. However, Mukhadram was given a brilliant tactical ride by Paul Hanagan to land the Coral-Eclipse and then ran a blinder over a trip too far when third in the King George, a short-head behind Telescope. He's a genuine Group 1 performer over 1m2f, though so is The Grey Gatsby who beat Arod in the Dante here in May and followed up in the French Derby at Chantilly. Kingfisher is reportedly running on his own merits but was easily brushed aside by his classier stablemate at the Curragh.
Eagle Rock was fifth in this last year and sixth the year before, though finished behind Itlaaq in 2012 and is much worse off at the weights now. Mick Easterby loves to have a winner here and his charge is only 2lb higher than when scoring over course and distance last month, though Kieren Fallon has got off him to ride Spacious Sky. Tony Martin's raider is certainly worth a second look in the betting but would have been more interesting had there been a bit more rain. Brian Ellison runs five with Edge Of Sanity possibly the pick of his quintet while Dolphin Village is in fine form and won in this grade at Catterick last year. GAMBOL looks to have crying out for this longer trip and is lightly raced. He's still climbing the weights but has more to offer and is preferred to Bantam, another trying a longer distance, and Quest For More. Lady Kashaan should be approaching peak fitness now and could also play a part.
It doesn't get any easier with 20 largely unexposed two-year-olds thundering down the sprint course. Several are making their handicap debuts and a trio are carrying penalties for recent victories. Prize Exhibit, Izzthatright and FELIX LEITER are the ones saddled with an extra 6lb but the latter looks more than capable of coping on the evidence of his latest five-length win at Nottingham and he's taken to complete the hat-trick. Dangers abound everywhere, however, with Burnt Sugar, Terentum Star and Roossey all expected to be thereabouts. Polarisation should improve on what he's shown so far while Mattmu and Kibaar are closely matched on Chester running. Dark Profit is still a maiden but doesn't look badly treated on his latest third at Goodwood.
*Make sure you check out the @sportinglife twitter account at midday on Wednesday August 20 for a social media Ebor Festival-related quiz - free bets with Sky Bet are there to be won!