L The exciting prospect of the feature races at the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival (23-25 August) became a little clearer, as the first stage of entries have been confirmed.
The richest race of the season, the £1 million Juddmonte International features the best known names of middle distance racing, the winners of some thirty one previous titles at the highest level, from around the racing world. What is termed the classic generation aged three, look likely to be championed by Investec Derby winner, Masar, carrying the Godolphin blue silks. The two highest rated horses in Europe from 2017, Cracksman and Enable both hold entries, offering a battle of the sexes amongst the older horses. With four winners at Royal Ascot entered, the race could yet again signpost the champion horse of the year.
Wednesday 22 August marks the thirtieth staging of this Group One contest under the Juddmonte sponsorship so it would particularly apt were Enable to repeat the success of Twice over and Frankel in landing the contest for Owner, Prince Khalid Abdulla.
Last season, Enable won the Group One Darley Yorkshire Oaks and she is also entered for the chance to defend that title. Potential opponents include, French Oaks winner Laurens, trained in Yorkshire by Karl Burke and Royal Ascot winner Magic Wand; in a race that is often sees a rivalry between the generations played out over the one mile and four furlong distance.
Both the Darley Yorkshire Oaks on Thursday 23 August and the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes to be run on Friday 24 August offer prize money of £350,000.
Independently rated as the joint highest sprint race in the world last season, the field in the Coolmore Nunthorpe have a reputation to live up to. With dual Group One winner, US Navy Flag from Aidan O’Brien’s County Tipperary yard set to take on international raider, Redkirk Warrior. The global nature of the sprinting division has seen previous Australian speedster, Ortensia, land this race. The British based contenders include Royal Ascot winner, Blue Point, who has winning form over the Knavesmire having taken the 2016 renewal of the Al Basti Equiworld Gimcrack Stakes.
Yorkshire interest in the Juddmonte International rests with top trainers, Mark Johnston who has the pair of Elarqam (a York maiden winner) and Mildenberger in the lists; with the Malton flag bearer being, Forest Ranger, from Richard Fahey’s yard. Amongst the fillies, Laurens, from Karl Burke’s yard represents the white rose county. Sprint hopes rest again with Karl Burke (Havana Grey) and Richard Fahey (Mr Lupton), aided by Julie Camacho courtesy of Judicial and Bryan Smart’s Alpha Delphini. Based in the south of the county, David Griffiths has three possible runners in Take Cover, Ornate and Duke of Firenze. Add in two time winner Michael Dods, who sends Mabs Cross from just over the County border in Darlington.
Overall entry numbers for the three races are healthy with an increased number for both the Darley Yorkshire Oaks and Coolmore Nunthorpe.