Betting Guide for the Eber festival - Racing Post

By Rob Virtue on August 20, 2014 10:32 AM |

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The Ebor meeting is the last of the truly big summer racing festivals, writes Paul Kealy. And where better to hold it than at York, one of the finest courses in Britain?

York, both the racetrack and its lovely city, has long been one of my favourite venues, although looking back it's hard to see why as I used to be a serial loser at what was once a three-day midweek meeting.

That has changed over the last few years, though, and these days I approach the now four-day extravaganza with something bordering on confidence. York has long had a reputation for producing upset winners, but the argument often put forward in some quarters that the form doesn't travel is pure nonsense.

Take Sole Power, favourite for Friday's featured Group 1 Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes over five furlongs.Four years ago he stormed to victory in this very race at odds of 100-1 and, given his form at the time, that price was hardly generous.

Since then, however, he has proved it to be anything but a fluke by establishing himself as one of the best and most consistent sprinters in Europe, twice bagging the Group 1 King's Stand Stakes at Ascot.

At his best when coming from off a blistering pace, Sole Power has not managed to repeat his victory on the Knavesmire, although he came mighty close when third last year and he is a worthy favourite.

However, with showers around the ground might not be as fast as he wants and he is worth taking on with the late-maturing Take Cover, who is on a roll and is 2-2 at York having never seen another rival in either start over course and distance.

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What marked him down as a major contender for top honours here, though, was his last-time-out victory in the King George Stakes at Goodwood.

In a race that was always going to feature a major burn-up on the speed, he was the only horse who raced up with the pace to finish anywhere near the leaders and the fact he won speaks volumes for his ability and courage.

Looking at the make-up for the Nunthorpe, he doesn't look like facing much competition up front this time and he will prove very hard to pass if that's the case. I'll be surprised if he is out of the first three.

The Betfred Ebor on Saturday is the meeting's signature handicap and there is a red-hot favourite in the shape of Sir Mark Prescott's Pallasator, an impressive last-time-out winner and well treated under a 4lb penalty.

This is a fiercely competitive heat, though, and with the Prescott stable largely under performing this season (his strike-rate of 13 per cent is lower than at any time in the last 25 years) he is a silly price at around 3-1.

Take him on with Mighty Yar for Lady Cecil, who won the race last year with Tiger Cliff.

This four-year-old is improving fast and performed a near miracle when a half-length second to Kings Fete over a mile and a half at York last month.

That he got so close to such a well-regarded colt (reportedly still St Leger bound despite a defeat next time) despite nearly falling coming out of the stalls speaks volumes and everything about him suggests he is going to relish stepping up another two furlongs.

Finally if Online Alexander lines up for the meeting's finale - the Qipco Future Stars Apprentice Stakes - on Saturday then fill your boots.

This filly is lightning fast and despite going up 7lb for her success at Goodwood last time is still well ahead of the handicapper. She'll be contesting Group races before long.

Paul Kealy is the betting editor at Racing Post