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Thursday, 20 August 2015

Ebor, 3:45 York, Saturday, August 22

The Betfred Ebor, run over 1 mile 6 furlongs at York, is the most valuable Flat handicap in Europe, with £275,000 in guaranteed prize money, and is invariably fiercely competitive. As usual, a maximum field of twenty runners is set to face the starter on Saturday and, with winners at 100/1, 25/1 (three times), 20/1, 14/1, and 12/1 in the last ten years, our search for a generously priced winner may not be entirely in vain.

Berkshire trainer Joseph Tuite could surely have found Litigant (40/1) an easier opportunity on his debut for the yard, after 491 days off, and the 7-year-old is an interesting contender on that score alone. The Sinndar gelding won a couple of races on turf for Andre Fabre in France as a 3-year-old and three more on the all-weather for Seamus Durack as a 5- and 6-year-old before joining his current yard in May.

He’s 9lb higher than when last winning a handicap, at Wolverhampton two seasons ago, but won by 3½ lengths, eased down, on that occasion, so may not be impossibly handicapped if fit and ready to do himself justice. Of course, the lengthy lay-off is a cause for concern and his ability to act on rain-softened ground is an unknown, but he’s run well after similar breaks in the past and could, conceivably, be open to improvement after just seven career starts.

Last year’s Chester Cup winner, Suegioo (33/1), probably needs further than 1 mile 6 furlongs and/or testing conditions and/or an end-to-end gallop to bring his abundant stamina into play, but was beaten far in the John Smith’s Northumberland Plate or the Coral Marathon on his two most recent starts and may not be a totally forlorn hope. The Manduro gelding has looked a difficult ride on more than occasion but, if first-time blinkers have the desired effect, he may be capable of springing a surprise.

Watersmeet (25/1) has yet to win beyond 1 mile 4 furlongs, but showed no signs of stopping when just touched off by stable companion Notarised in the Old Newton Cup at Haydock two starts ago. That performance proved his effectiveness on rain-softened ground and he was far from disgraced when stepped up to Group 3 level at Goodwood last time. His overall profile is highly progressive, yet the bookmakers appear, almost, to have written off his chances.

Watersmeet (25/1 generally available) has to be our first pick this week, followed by Litigant (40/1 generally available) and Suegioo (33/1 generally available). Good luck!

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