Picture: 123RF/ MELORYS
Picture: 123RF/ MELORYS

Crowds were allowed back to football grounds in the UK last weekend and York officials are predicting a record attendance at their four-day Ebor meeting starting on Wednesday.

“We had 83,000 for the 2019 Ebor meeting so we’re hopeful of getting close to or above that this year. Obviously, we’re just pleased to be racing in front of crowds again,” said York clerk of the course, William Derby.

Some of the best horses in Europe will be in action on the Knavesmire including Snowfall, Love, Alcohol Free and Stradivarius.

Wednesday: Let’s start with the action on the first day.

Acomb Stakes — only five runners for this top sprint for juveniles but the big stables represented with Dubawi Legend (Hugo Palmer), Noble Truth (Charlie Appleby) and Ehraz (Richard Hannon) are all fancied contenders.

Great Voltigeur Stakes — William Buick and Appleby team up with Kemari who has to concede weight to his five rivals. High Definition, once ante post favourite for the Derby, bids to get his career back on track for the powerful Ryan Moore/Aidan O’Brien combination.

Juddmonte International: The meeting’s richest race — and the one rated the most important in the world according to Longines World rankings — with a purse of £567,000 to the winning owner.

With the defection of St Mark’s Basilica due to a leg infection, Mishriff is the 7-4 favourite with Love on offer at 9-4.

Mishriff, winner of the $20m Saudi Cup, represents the Gosden stable and his regular pilot, David Egan, said: “If he can improve as much as he did in his first run in the Eclipse to the King George then he is going to be very hard to beat. It was a fantastic run finishing behind an absolute monster like Adayar.”

Alcohol Free represents the Andrew Balding-Oisin Murphy partnership and is trying a mile and a quarter for the first time. Both trainer and jockey are confident the Coronation and Sussex Stakes winner will stay the trip.

William Haggas’s runners always have to be feared in the county of his birth and he is hopeful of big runs from both Mohaafeth and Alenquer.

Thursday

Yorkshire Oaks: Snowfall, facile winner of the Epsom and Irish Oaks, is regarded as the banker of the meeting and generally priced at 4-10. The only runner given a chance of upsetting the favourite is David Menuisier’s charge, Wonderful Tonight.

Friday

Nunthorpe Stakes: Could produce a really tight finish. Golden Pal makes the journey from the US for trainer Wesley Ward, Suesa flies in from France to try to follow up her Goodwood win, but there is a serious local hope in Tim Easterby’s sprinter, Winter Power. Two two-year-olds, Chipotle and Boonie, add spice to the race.

Lonsdale Cup: Stradivarius missed Goodwood because of unsuitable ground, but the country’s most popular stayer will be all the rage to win this race for the third time. “But he’s not getting any younger and possibly his best days are behind him, we’ll be looking to beat him,” said Brett Williams of Unibet.

Saturday

The Ebor Handicap: This race — with a purse of £500,000 — is the most valuable handicap in Europe. Trainer Saaed bin Suroor has won this one mile six furlongs event twice and his entry, Live Your Dream, heads the market at 7-1.

However, Johnny Murtagh’s Irish raider, Sonnyboyliston, has been the subject of sustained support and has shortened from 20-1 to 8-1.

William Haggas is likely to saddle two runners with the most interesting Hamish, who has not been seen in action since contesting the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2020.

Trainer Alan King does well in staying races and his runner, On To Victory, could go well at a big price.

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