Ryan Moore on the York Ebor Festival: The key races previewed on day one
Ryan Moore is still nursing an injury meaning he's unable to ride at this week's York Ebor Festival, but here the Betfair Ambassador gives his exclusive thoughts on the pick of the first day's races...
"Postponed will probably win if he is on song but there are obvious doubts, and this is a very competitive race beneath him."
- Ryan Moore on the Juddmonte International Stakes
14:30 York - Acomb Stakes
I see Best Of Days is favourite for the Acomb Stakes after an impressive Sandown win. He has a big reputation and has been bought by Godolphin but York is a very different test to Sandown, and he is obviously stepping up in class.
Courage Under Fire sets the form standard on his Group 1 Phoenix Stakes second, and he shouldn't be underestimated.
He may not have the unexposed profile of most of the field but they are maiden winners and he has done it in a higher grade, and Aidan's juveniles just keep on improving with their racing. I think odds of 7-1 about him are quite generous but it's a tricky race to call.
For example, Bear Valley has to be respected. He was very impressive when easily winning a Goodwood nursery and I liked the look of him that day, and then you have the maiden winners like Lockheed who can all step forward.
15:05 York - Great Voltigeur Stakes
Idaho will be a short-priced favourite in the Voltigeur but I think it could be more competitive than the betting suggests.
He is clearly the horse to beat on his English and Irish Derby efforts, but Aidan also runs the Bahrain Trophy winner Housesofparliament and The Major General in here.
Of the pair I would perhaps favour The Major General, who put up a career-best when just beaten in the Gordon Stakes last time.
Across The Stars will find this hard with his 3lb penalty but the stable is obviously in great form and he is progressive, too.
It is hard to fancy Harrison but there are definite prospects for Imperial Aviator if he comes back to his Newbury form. But he has been off for a while since disappointing in the French Derby, and he has a fair bit to find, too.
All in all, the opening day looks pretty tricky to me.
15:40 York - Juddmonte International Stakes
If Postponed is in the same form as he was when winning The Coronation Cup at Epsom, then he will win the Juddmonte. But the fact that he missed the King George and his stable is under a bit of a cloud are obvious worries.
You have to trust the trainer in these situations, though, and Roger wouldn't be running the horse unless he thought he was in A1 shape. Against that, sometimes only a race will expose any weaknesses in a horse.
Anyway, what we do know is that he has been the stand-out horse this year, the step back in trip won't be any problem, he has won a Voltigeur here, and he sets the form standard.
He is a deserved favourite but if he isn't at his best, then this race has plenty of depth, in terms of numbers - I am struggling to remember a bigger field for this race in recent years - and quality.
I give Highland Reel an excellent each-way chance. Aidan has brought him back steadily after his travels and I was impressed with him in the King George. He could still be coming forward, and could be the main beneficiary if the favourite run bellows par.
Hawkbill has an outside stall, which isn't ideal at this track and at this start, but I can actually see him getting the run of the race behind Postponed's pacemaker. He definitely got the run of the race when winning the Eclipse but you have to respect his chances as a horse on the upgrade.
And that comments applies to a lot of the field. There are some good horses in here. Almodovar has to improve plenty but the step down in trip will suit him and he is less exposed than most. I have always thought Arab Spring has Group 1 potential but he needs to improve and hopefully this run doesn't come too quickly for him after his encouraging Haydock comeback.
The boss also runs Exosphere, who ran much better under a penalty behind Big Orange at Newmarket, finishing a place behind The Grey Gatsby. You can certainly give the latter a chance back at York and he looks a fair price at 14-1, too.
But I don't really have a strong opinion on the race to be honest. Postponed will probably win if he is on song but there are obvious doubts, and this is a very competitive race beneath him.
I haven't even mentioned the Ganay winner Dariyan or the King George runner-up Wings Of Desire, who won the Dante here, or the progressive Mutakayyef.
If Postponed disappoints, then this is up for grabs.