Mark Milligan looks ahead to Europe's richest handicap and selects one that looks to have been specifically targeted for the race...
"Haggas has been the epitome of patience in getting this horse back and there is still plenty of mileage in a mark of 108"
The race that the entire meeting is named after, the Sky Bet Ebor at 15:35, takes place on the fourth and final day at the Knavesmire and it's as fiercely competitive as ever, with numerous runners in with some sort of shout.
The quality of Europe's richest handicap has gone up and up in recent years, the upshot being that a horse needs to be rated over 100 just to get a run these days, and the fact that Group winner Euchen Glen tops the weights just serves to underline the class of this historic contest nowadays.
You have to go back to 2015 to find the last horse to win the race from a double-figure BHA rating, when Joseph Tuite's Litigant took the contest from a mark of 99 under Oisin Murphy.
The five winners since then have all been rated between 103 and 108, and the bottom weight in this year's contest will be off 101.
Speaking of those at the foot of the weights, there's no doubt that Saeed bin Suroor's Live Your Dream would have a strong chance, having looked firmly on the upgrade in taking his last two starts. However, at the time of writing, he needs one to come out to get a run so it may be safer to look elsewhere.
Hamish on a fair mark
It could be that Hamish is pulled out on account of the ground - William Haggas has already stated he won't run if it's too firm - but hopefully he'll get the go-ahead, as I believe he's a seriously well-handicapped horse that has been laid out for this.
A winner of the Melrose on this card two years ago, he made an encouraging reappearance when fourth in the Group 2 Hardwicke at Royal Ascot before injury curtailed his season. Haggas has been the epitome of patience in getting this horse back and there is still plenty of mileage in a mark of 108.
The layoff doesn't concern me whatsoever where this yard is concerned and I firmly believe Hamish has the ability to be knocking heads with the better stayers in Group contests again before the season is out.
If fit and ready to fire his best shot, he has to go close from his current rating. There is rain forecast tomorrow, so let's just hope the ground is deemed suitable enough for him to take his chance.
A cracking Group 3 contest
The supporting card at York tomorrow is chock-full of quality and we should get another chance to see the exciting Real World in the Group 3 Sky Bet And Symphony Strensall Stakes at 13:50. Pulled out on account of the heavy ground at Haydock last time, hopefully the rain will hold off long enough for him to take his chance this time.
Saeed bin Suroor's son of Dark Angel was seemingly viewed as a dirt horse when running at Meydan through the winter, where he proved consistent rather than progressive. However, switched back to turf in the Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot, he completely dismantled what should have been a competitive handicap, coming home nearly five lengths clear of Astro King and Grove Ferry.
Stepped up into listed company at Newbury last time, Real World continued his progression, quickening up well to beat Derab and Solid Stone.
It's interesting that his trainer continues to take a softly-softly approach with this one, running in this Group 3 when he must surely have been tempted to try an even higher grade, though this is a tough race for the level.
My Oberon improved when winning a Group 3 in good style at Newmarket on his return in April and has been campaigned exclusively at the top level since, finishing third in the Prix D'Ispahan to Skalleti and fourth to Love in the Prince Of Wales's Stakes.
The veteran Lord Glitters has been a cracking servant to connections and enjoyed an excellent spell in Dubai earlier this year, winning a pair of races, including the Group 1 Jebel Hatta. He posted another admirable effort when fourth to Palace Pier in the Queen Anne but must concede weight here on account of that Meydan win earlier in the year.
El Drama finished last of four in the Eclipse - albeit not beaten too far - and was no match for the potentially top-class Baaeed last time but should be much more at home back at this level. He's another who is difficult to entirely rule out.
To sum up, there's every chance that Real World is a Group 1 winner in waiting, though there's also every chance that he'll need to be as he rocks up in a Group 3 that looks particularly spicy. I suspect he'll take the next step up the ladder, but I wouldn't be desperate to get involved at a short price, this a cracking race to watch no matter what the result.
Poet Of Life an exciting prospect
While all eyes will understandably be on York on Saturday, there's a really good card down at Sandown and a potential handicap blot in the Heed Your Hunch At Betway Handicap at 15:15.
John and Thady Gosden's Poet Of Life has looked a young horse to keep onside in taking his last two starts, the latest by a comfortable three lengths at Doncaster. The Gosden stable has a reputation when it comes to laying out a talented three-year-old for the Cambridgeshire (think Wissahickon and Lord North most recently) and it looks significant that this one holds an entry at Newmarket next month.
The son of Frankel could be seriously well treated off a mark of 96 - I suspect he'll prove much better than that in time - and a win here should more or less guarantee a run in the Cambridgeshire. This will be a different ball game to the novice contests that Poet Of Life has been winning, but he's won those in the style of a very good horse, and I expect him to take this before heading on to better things.