Ebor Festival tips: Simon Holt previews day one at York

Ulysses has grown in stature

Simon Holt previews the action on the opening day of the Welcome To Yorkshire Ebor Festival at York.

Recommended bets: Simon Holt at York

2pts win Ulysses 3.35 York at best morning price - improving all the time; can confirm form with Barney Roy

2pts win Cracksman 3.00 York at best morning price - standout form horse should take all the beating

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This season, three-year-olds have tended to do best in the so-called 'clashes of the generations' but ULYSSES successful defied weight-for-age in the Coral-Eclipse and can do so again in Wednesday's intriguing Group One Juddmonte International at York.

Sir Michael Stoute's four-year-old recorded a narrow victory over Barney Roy at Sandown (Decorated Knight sixth) in June when conceding the runner-up 10lb but, just over six weeks on, the scale now allows only a 7lb allowance to the runner-up.

Since the Eclipse, Ulysses has run a mighty race to chase home Enable in the King George at Ascot (My Dream Boat seventh), probably facing an impossible task trying to give a stone in age and sex allowances to the dual Oaks winner.

One suspects that was the hottest race of the season so far with Idaho, previously successful at Royal Ascot, and the multiple Group One winner Highland Reel finishing third and fourth respectively.

As at Sandown, Ulysses travelled really well in the hands of Jim Crowley and his high cruising speed may be slightly better suited to this shorter trip. Providing he runs to the same level here, and has fully recovered from what could have been a hard race, he looks the one to be on.

2017 Coral-Eclipse - Ulysses- Racing UK

Barney Roy (James Doyle) is a most likeable racehorse and, stepped up from a mile in the Eclipse, he stayed on strongly all the way to the line.

York should suit this long-striding colt ideally but he needs to find that extra bit of progress, as the weight-for-age scale suggests he will have done, to turn the tables. He is bound to run well and another fine battle is in prospect.

The other fascinating line of form here is the 2000 Guineas in which Churchill beat Barney Roy by a length with the subsequent Jacques le Marois winner Al Wukair a close third.

Richard Hannon's colt took a bad step that day but for which he would surely have got close to the winner, and then reversed the form with a seemingly below-par Churchill in the St James's Palace Stakes at the Royal meeting.

How Churchill will fare here is a bit of a guess and one can only say that if he puts that effort behind him, and returns to his dual Guineas-winning form, then he must be a danger to all.

The son of Galileo is trying an extended mile-and-a-quarter for the first time but most of the stallion's progeny stay well and it seems unlikely that the trip will be an excuse for any defeat.

Ryan Moore sticks with Churchill, discarding his Derby and Eclipse mount Cliffs Of Moher (Seamie Heffernan) who had no chance to confirm the high promise of his Epsom second to stable-companion Wings Of Eagles when badly hampered in the early stages at Sandown.

However, even bearing that unlucky incident in mind, he never really showed enough pace that day to suggest that he might beat Ulysses and Barney Roy in this re-match though he remains an unexposed colt whose trainer is a master at improving horses throughout the season.

Shutter Speed (Frankie Dettori) is the sole filly in the line-up. The daughter of Dansili looked potentially top-class earlier in the season but disappointed a little when favourite and only fourth in the Prix de Diane (French Oaks) at Chantilly in June.

She remains a horse of some potential and fast ground seems to suit her best.

Earlier, CRACKSMAN should take plenty of beating in the Group Two Betway Great Voltigeur Stakes.

On form, which includes a third in the Derby (Douglas Macarthur seventh, Venice Beach 12th) and a neck second to Capri (Douglas Macarthur fifth) in the Irish version, the son of Frankel stands clear of his rivals but it will be interesting to see what tactics are deployed by Dettori.

At Epsom, Cracksman sat quite close to a strong pace but kept going gamely until passed by Wings Of Eagles and Cliffs Of Moher late on whereas at The Curragh under Pat Smullen, he came from further back and needed plenty of time to get into contention.

A horse with an impressively long stride, this flat course should suit him well and perhaps a more positive ride is the way to go.

Mirage Dancer (Andrea Atzeni), another of Frankel's offspring, could be the danger.

Fourth to Cliffs Of Moher at Chester in the spring, Sir Michael Stoute's colt then ran a slightly one-paced third behind Benbatl in the Hampton Court Stakes over a mile-and-a-quarter at Royal Ascot and, having just his fourth career start and upped in distance, looks open to plenty of improvement.

Meanwhile, Ryan Moore has opted to ride Venice Beach of the three Aidan O'Brien-trained runners and, while this son of Galileo (a half brother to the King George and Arc winner Danedream) finished well beaten in the Derby, his subsequent third behind Shakeel and Permian in the Grand Prix de Paris at Saint-Cloud was much better.

Posted at 1005 BST on 22/08/17.

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