Ebor favourite FlyMeToTheStars runner in Europe's richest handicap

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Dubka – 14-1 Ebor with Betfred

Scarlet Dragon – 16-1 Ebor with Betfred

With prize money totalling £285k ( £177,413 to the winner ) York stages Europe’s most valuable handicap on Saturday afternoon in the shape of the 1m 6f Betfred Ebor. Named after the Roman name for York ( Eboracum ) and dating back to 1843 the race has seen a dramatic change during this century, now favouring the better older horses rather than the less exposed entries from the Classic generation.

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Following Monday’s declaration stage the highest rated three-year-old is the Aidan O’Brien-trained Sir John Lavery who stands at number 34 in the pecking-order, so with a maximum permitted field of just 20 there is unlikely to be a repeat of that stable’s victory with Mediterranean in 2001, the last of that age group to prove successful off a generous weight of 8st 4lb.

Prior to Mediterranean’s win four of the previous six renewals had gone to three-year-old’s ( carrying between 7st 11lb and 8st 8lb ) highlighted the advantage gained by an unexposed younger horse, many of which went on to prove Group class. 1973 St Leger winner Peleid for instance had finished fourth under a featherweight in that year’s Ebor before going on to Classic glory.

The Sir Mark Prescott-trained Flymetothestars currently heads the ante-post market for Saturday’s race at a general 7-1 but with little rain forecast on the Knavesmire over the next few days and with his handler stating that the unexposed four-year-old’s participation depends on there being plenty of cut in the ground, regarded as doubtful at this stage by York assistant clerk of the course Anthea Morshead.

French jockey Stephane Pasquier (2nd L) rides his horse Senga as they lead the race of the Prix de Diane, a 2,100-meters flat horse race, on June 18, 2017 at the Chantilly hippodrome, north of Paris. / AFP PHOTO / Martin BUREAU

With good to firm ground almost guaranteed and a bottom weight in the range of 9st anyone looking for an early ante-post value wager on the race could do worse than place their faith in Dubka and Scarlet Dragon from the stable’s of Sir Michael Stoute and Eve Johnson Houghton respectively.

The former has yet to trouble the judge this season but the daughter of Dubawi looked right back to her best ( won four times in 2016 ) when going down by just a neck in a Goodwood Group 3 contest recently. Likely to have the services of Ryan Moore, the filly will not be inconvenienced by the likely fast conditions, a remark which also applies to Scarlet Dragon.

Successful over a mile and a half at Newmarket last October the mount of talented 3lb apprentice Holly Doyle could appreciate the extra two furlongs and will be more at home in a fast-run big field handicap as opposed to his creditable third place in a slowly-run Goodwood Group 3 contest on his most recent start earlier this month.

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