The Yorkshire Oaks is the feature contest on day two of York’s Ebor Festival, but the card starts with the Group 2 Lowther Stakes for juvenile fillies’ over 6f. Note there was heavy rain forecast to hit the area on Wednesday evening although the times of Wednesday’s racing suggested the ground was no worse than the advertised good – good to soft in places.
Proud Yorkshireman William Haggas has, at the time of writing, a 50% strike rate at the track this season and he has kept Sacred (1.45) back for this race since she finished runner up in the Queen Mary at Royal Ascot back in June. That may not have been the strongest of renewals of that Group 2 contest, but it has thrown up several subsequent winners and Sacred looked ready for another furlong at the Royal meeting.
The filly is 2/1 from 9/4 with William Hill. The stable have a good record in the race, having saddled the winner twice in the last eight years, and she is taken to return to winning ways although significant rain would be a negative for this daughter of Exceed And Excel.
The mile handicap has long been one of my favourite races of the year but finding the winner has been difficult in recent years with the shortest priced winner at 8/1 in the last decade. David O’Meara has saddled the winner twice in the last seven years and Prompting (2.45) did us a favour at Goodwood last month and a 6lbs rise looks fair. The each way selection – 15/2 with 10bet who are betting five places – had a plum draw in stall two last time and has been allocated another good stall today in five. He is another for whom the prospect of soft ground would be a concern.
The unbeaten grey Top Rank holds a Group entry and could be a class apart, but he has a moderate draw to overcome in stall 13 and is unproven on soft ground. At a best priced 10/3 with Unibet he is reluctantly overlooked.
Love should add the Yorkshire Oaks to the 1000 Guineas and Oaks from earlier in the season and is difficult to oppose although if the ground deteriorated markedly then Manuela De Vega might enter calculations.
Vivionn finished runner up in the Galtres Stakes 12 months ago and must have a leading chance of going one better, but Sea Of Faith (3.45) was improving at a rate of knots when last seen in 2019 and she is taken to make a belated winning reappearance.
The filly won two of her last three starts last term including breaking her maiden tag on heavy ground and 5/1 is a fair each way price with Boylesports.
Haggas saddles Meyaas in the 7f nursery and he looks sure to improve stepping up in distance on his handicap debut, but I hope the same can be said of Andrew Balding’s Bonnyrigg (4.20) who got up in the shadows of the post to win a Newmarket maiden last time over 6f. The ew recommendation is 6/1 with William Hill.
James Sullivan comes in for the ride on Lawahed (4.50) who carries just 8st on this lightly raced three-year-old in the concluding 7f fillies’ handicap. The selection is certainly bred to be better than her current mark and it could be a red-letter day for Haggas on the Knavesmire.
At Chester I hope to see Hereby (5.25) leave behind her underwhelming reappearance in the listed Chester Stakes. The filly – 7/2 from 9/2 with bet365 – is unbeaten in two starts on the Roodeye and I hope to see her maintain her perfect record at the track. The ground was given as good to soft at noon on Wednesday with the prospect of further light rain later in the day.