Horse Racing Tips

Mark Milligan's York Ebor Tips: Mohaafeth to make the step up

Mark Milligan fancies one in the Juddmonte International

"I'm happy to overlook his most recent run and firmly believe this son of Frankel has a big one in him."

Mark Milligan previews day one of the York Ebor meeting and has a bet in the big race...

Right, let's get this out of the way first: York is the best racecourse in the country and if you don't agree with that comment then you've clearly never been there. And if you've never been there then you should definitely visit.

Okay, I confess to being a little bit biased. I was born in York, it's the track I spent most of my teenage years visiting with my Dad, and I live relatively close by, so still go racing there regularly. And there really is no better week to be at York than this week.

The Ebor meeting is a spectacular feast of racing, starting with the excellent Juddmonte International at 15:35 on the Wednesday, before culminating with the historic Sky Bet Ebor itself on Saturday. Throughout the week there really is something for every fan of flat racing, whether you like trappy 20-runner handicaps or classy Group races, one's appetite is sure to be satiated.

The Juddmonte International itself has a roll of honour that reads like a who's who of top racehorses. From Dahlia and Troy in the early days of the race in 70s, right through to the likes of Giant's Causeway, Sea The Stars and Frankel in the 21st century, it really is a contest that has stood the test of time.

Unfortunately, this year's renewal has been robbed of one of its main attractions, with St Mark's Basilica ruled out at the eleventh hour due to a setback. However, what fate taketh with one hand he gives back with the other, and we now have a chance to see the wonderful Love in action, who has been rerouted from a potential trip to France later in the week.

Mohaafeth to bag his first Group 1

It seems almost perverse to suggest a multiple Group 1 winner still has questions to answer, but I think that's probably fair in the case of Love. All five of her wins at the top level have come against her own sex and the one time she stepped out that particular bubble was in the King George at Ascot last time, where she was found wanting in third behind Derby winner Adayar and Mishriff.

Aidan O'Brien is on record as saying he didn't think things panned out as planned for Love there, though strictly in form terms, she wasn't much below her best, seemingly beaten by two better rivals on the day.

York field empty stand 956.jpg

Mishriff himself travelled at least as well as Adayar in the King George, though ultimately just found the concession of 11 lb weight-for-age to the winner a bridge too far. He shouldn't be inconvenienced by dropping back in trip here, he had enough pace to win a nine-furlong Saudi Cup on dirt, after all.

Both Love and Mishriff have plenty to recommend them, though at the current prices they're easy enough to swerve. So, if wanting to take on the pair at the head of the market, where should we be looking?

Andrew Balding's Alcohol Free is a fascinating contender. I've made the point several times since taking over this column that the Balding horses have been in rude health this season, and she merits the utmost respect for that reason alone.

A speedy, headstrong miler, the issue here is whether she's going to see out the extended ten-furlong trip. On pedigree there has to be some doubt, and she'll need to drop her head to give herself a chance of seeing things through against some high-quality opponents. Her form stands up to most of these, but I'm just not convinced she'll translate it over this longer distance.

While certainly not writing off the likes of Juan Elcano and Mac Swiney, I suspect the bigger threat to Love and Mishriff will come from one of the pair that William Haggas fields. Alenquer is still lightly raced and has form that ties in with the best of his generation, though I'm worried about the drop in trip for him, so the one I'm keen to be with is Mohaafeth.

Well fancied for the Derby on the back of a facile success in listed company at Newmarket, he missed Epsom on account of the ground and was instead sent to the Group 3 Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot. Mohaafeth swept into the lead in the style of a genuine Group 1 performer, before just showing a quirk or two late on, though still had more than enough in hand to hold off Roman Empire.

His most recent run - in a Group 2 over this C&D - was just a bit of a shambles and I'm more than happy to overlook it. His own pacemaker dawdled in front, while Mohaafeth sat a long way off that one in last, and then had to try to run down some quality horses who were quickening in front of him. That he managed to pick them up before flattening a bit late on is much to his credit, and I firmly believe this son of Frankel has a big one in him.

Excellent supporting races

There are a pair of quality races earlier on the card, with the juveniles taking centre stage first in the Group 3 Tattersalls Acomb Stakes at 14:25. It's fair to say that every one of the five runners can have a case made for them and this has the look of a spicy contest.

The Acomb itself has something of a mixed record when it comes to throwing up potentially high-class performers, but there's every chance that this year's renewal could give us a good one. If pressed for a selection, I'd probably just side with Noble Truth, though without any great conviction.

The Group 2 Sky Bet Great Voltigeur Stakes at 15:00 is a bone-fide St Leger trial, and again cases can be made for most of the runners. High Definition started this season touted as the next Ballydoyle superstar, though it's fair to say things haven't really gone right for him in two starts so far.

I suspect he's much better than he could show in the Irish Derby last time but he faces stiff opposition from the likes of Kemari, Youth Spirit and his own stable companion Sir Lucan, who shaped well at Goodwood recently. This is another no-bet race for me, and there'll be better punting opportunities as the week unfolds.

Recommended bets

Mark's P&L

Staked: 30
Returns: 38.75
P/L: +8.75


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