Friday's big race preview at York including Weatherbys Lonsdale Cup

Stradivarius again has the measure of Dee Ex Bee
Stradivarius again has the measure of Dee Ex Bee

Views from connections ahead of Friday's key races at York including the Weatherbys Lonsdale Cup and the Coolmore Nunthorpe.

2.25 - Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup

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Views from connections:

Stradivarius bids to continue his domination of the staying division with a second victory in the Weatherbys Lonsdale Cup at York on Friday.

John Gosden's remarkable chestnut has developed into a winning machine over the last 18 months, enjoying a faultless campaign in 2018 as he claimed the Yorkshire Cup, Gold Cup, Goodwood Cup and Lonsdale Cup to land the inaugural Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers' Million.

He rounded off last season with victory on Champions Day and it has been more of the same this term, as he has successfully defended the Yorkshire Cup, Gold Cup and Goodwood Cup, meaning he will again secure a £1million windfall if he can strike gold on the Knavesmire.

Gosden said: "We are looking forward to the race. He did struggle in it last year - no doubt about that. It's quite a lot of races, but they are spaced well and he has already been to York once this year for the Yorkshire Cup.

"The old boy is fine, it's a good field with Dee Ex Bee in there again so it will be a proper race - we know it's not going to be easy for him.

"He's a scrapper, though, the kind of guy who you'd want on your side in a barroom brawl, he'd be right there with you until the end."

The biggest threat to the hot favourite appears to be his old rival Dee Ex Bee, who filled the runner-up spot behind the staying superstar both at Royal Ascot and Goodwood, most recently going down by just a neck.

Trainer Mark Johnston said: "I'll be a bit sick if we finish second to him again!

"But where else do you go, what can you do, we've got to take him on again as that is what racing is about."

Dee Ex Bee tries to lay it down to Stradivarius
Dee Ex Bee tries to lay it down to Stradivarius

Falcon Eight is an interesting contender for Dermot Weld, who saddled Pale Mimosa to claim this prize in 2014.

The lightly-raced Galileo colt is a half-brother to a trio of high-class performers in Free Eagle, Sapphire and Custom Cut and has won three of his five starts to date, most recently claiming a narrow victory in last month's Coral Marathon at Sandown.

Fiona Craig, breeding adviser to owners Moyglare Stud Farm, said: "He ran a good race at Sandown last time and hopefully he's progressive.

"He is the most incredibly lazy horse, he's probably the most laid-back horse you've ever seen. I'm sure if you let him gallop along at the back, he'd pull up and stand and eat grass!

"Stradivarius is one of the best stayers we've seen in several years and Dee Ex Bee is as tough as they come. With our horse I think it's a question of how fast he's learning compared to the ability that we think he has.

"Pat Smullen has done an awful lot of work with him at home, teaching him to race, and any success he has will be largely down to him."

Dermot Weld
Dermot Weld

3.35 - Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes

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Aidan O'Brien is in no doubt Ten Sovereigns possesses the speed for five furlongs ahead of Friday's Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes at York.

Unbeaten during his juvenile campaign, which included the Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket, Ten Sovereigns began this season in the 2000 Guineas.

While he ran respectably, he subsequently dropped to six furlongs for the Commonwealth Cup, where he finished fourth to Advertise, before roaring back to his brilliant best in the July Cup, where the Classic generation dominated.

"We've no doubt about speed, he has loads of it, he shows that in his work and the clock shows that as well," said O'Brien.

"We felt he learned a lot at Ascot in the three-year-old race and felt he'd progressed into the July Cup. That would have made him faster and sharper again and we were very happy with him in the July Cup.

"He's in good form and seems to have come out of his last race really well.

"We're looking forward to seeing him run."

His main danger is Charlie Hills' mercurial Battaash, who is nigh on unbeatable at Goodwood but in the previous two renewals of this race has failed to run up to that form.

While the first time he got too worked up, last year he appeared to have no excuses in fourth.

"He was very good at Goodwood again. He's very quick and tries to burn them off in the early part of a race, but he's not always going to win," said Angus Gold, racing manager to owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum.

"I see no reason why York wouldn't suit him. I can't have the theory that he doesn't act on the track.

"It's not a track like Epsom, which some horses can't take. There's no reason why he shouldn't handle it.

"It's a very high-class race. Ten Sovereigns is a very good horse and there are plenty of other good ones in there.

"It will just be interesting to see how he gets on."

Jim Crowley all smiles on Battaash
Jim Crowley all smiles on Battaash

Hills also runs Garrus, third in an Irish Group Two last time out.

Few would begrudge victory for Mabs Cross if she can give trainer Michael Dods a third win in the race in five years after Meccas Angel's double.

Beaten just a pixel 12 months ago, she has been reunited with Gerald Mosse at the behest of the owners, with a return trip to France on the cards after she was successful in the Prix de l'Abbaye last season.

Dods said: "She's gone in a bit under the radar this year, but obviously Ten Sovereigns and Battaash are going there in great form having won their last races.

"It will be interesting. She's in good form so I'm just hoping for a good run.

"She's got a score to settle after last year, being beaten a nose. She's in good form, but the other two are in great form so it will be tough.

"Battaash just looks more relaxed to me this year. I watched him closely at Haydock and Ascot and on the TV at Goodwood and he's definitely more relaxed than in the past.

"Ten Sovereigns was very impressive in the July Cup, so it will be interesting."

Another Yorkshire trainer with a runner is Tim Easterby, who hopes Copper Knight can use his love of York to his advantage in a race which forms part of the Qipco British Champions Series.

"He's in great form, loves the track and with a bit of luck he should finish in a place. He wasn't fast enough (when well-held behind Battaash at Goodwood), although he didn't act on the track very well," said Easterby.

"I couldn't tell you what it is that he likes so much about York. Some horses hate the place, some like it. There's no rhyme or reason to it, but it's a nice track to be effective at."

3.00 - Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Gimcrack Stakes

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Richard Hannon's Threat looks set to lead the market ahead of the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Gimcrack Stakes, run over six furlongs on the penultimate day of York's Ebor Festival.

The two-year-old was narrowly beaten in the Richmond Stakes at Goodwood and the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot - both Group Two contests over six furlongs.

Owned by Cheveley Park Stud, the Footstepsinthesand colt now heads to York for a third race under such conditions and faces neither foe from those defeats.

Cheveley Park managing director Chris Richardson said: "He's been consistent so far. He ran a blinder at Royal Ascot and then ran a very good race at Goodwood.

"He seems to keep progressing and we're glad we avoided the Prix Morny last weekend. In due course we hope he'll get further, but for now we're happy to stick to six furlongs and we're hoping he'll go close."

Arizona wins the Coventry Stakes from Threat
Arizona wins the Coventry Stakes from Threat

North Yorkshire-based Karl Burke sends two challengers to the Knavesmire in the shape of Dubai Station and Lord Of The Lodge.

The former was third from five runners in the Group Three Darley Prix de Cabourg at Deauville, and looked promising when finishing third in a more sizeable field of 14 in the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Lord Of The Lodge came home 12th on his first foray into Group company, in the same running of the Coventry Stakes that saw Hannon's Threat finish second.

"Bolts colts are heading there in good form and I'm very happy with the ground," said Burke.

"They both need to step up on what they have done in the past, but they're good horses that look like they can go forward from here."

Trainer Karl Burke
Trainer Karl Burke picked up a York winner on Thursday

Looking to claim a third win on the trot is Declan Carroll's Spartan Fighter, who lines up in the Gimcrack off the back of two successive triumphs.

The Dutch Art colt found himself in the winner's enclosure at both Ripon - beating Norfolk hero A'Ali - and York, after prevailing in novice contests over five and five and a half furlongs respectively.

Elsewhere in the field is Aidan O'Brien's Pistoletto, who began his career with back-to-back wins but only beat one home when favourite for the Anglesey Stakes at the Curragh on his last run.

Summer Sands hit his stride early when taking the Brian Yeardley Two Year Old Trophy at Beverley, with the Richard Fahey-trained colt subsequently finishing sixth in the Windsor Castle at the Royal meeting.

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