My 1-2-3-4-5-6 in the opener

Although I’ve had a pretty deep dive into the opening sprint handicap (1:45pm) of York’s Ebor Festival, for which William Hill are offering a fantastic six places, I’ve picked what I think will be the winner fairly near the surface.

Quite simply, JAWWAAL has not finished winning yet, and an eight-pound rise for his romp at Ascot is pretty conservative given the manner of his success that day. You rarely see a horse travel, quicken and dominate in a sprint handicap of that nature, yet Jawwaal pulverised his field before galloping out really strongly. He is on a real roll and reminds me a bit of the same stable’s Dakota Gold at this point last year. The question will be whether he wants to go an extra half furlong, but he wasn’t stopping on a much stiffer track at Ascot and he had the Dash at York (over six) done and dusted until the final few yards last year – he looks a significantly improved horse now. Further ease in the ground will not be too much of a problem either and he looks the right favourite at 5/1.

Now we’ve sorted that out, it’s time to find those placed horses who can go well at bigger prices. Top of that list is HYPERFOCUS (14/1), who I fancied to run a bit better in the Great St Wilfrid on Sunday. He performed respectably, but it was definitely a little step forward, and he was slightly mucked around late on which cost him a few places. This cut back half a furlong might well suit, the rain is a massive plus, as is David Allan, who has twice motivated him to a position near the lead when running blinders in similar races here. He is definitely handicapped to run well soon.

The other one I like at a big price is MUBAALEGH, who is the complete joker in the pack on just his second start for Marcus Tregoning. On his stable debut at Ascot over the minimum, he was a touch keen, but travelled like he retained the sort of ability that saw him competitive in stakes races in France for John Hammond. His mark looks feasible, the ease in the ground will help, as will the step up in trip. He’s interesting at 25/1.

I can’t possibly leave old A MOMENTOFMADNESS out of the mix at 18/1, as he has run five times over five and a half furlongs – either in this or the Portland – and he has either won or run an absolute stormer every time. He gels well with William Buick and he showed significant signs of a revival at Goodwood last time.

ACCLAIM THE NATION (14/1) was one place in front of him in the Goodwood race and is always on the premises – although it’s late in the day to be teaching an old dog new tricks as regards trip and ground, he has a fine record under Jason Hart and all his siblings handled cut and a bit further than the minimum.

I would also be keeping an eye on LEODIS DREAM at 33/1, who has one piece of form at Chester on similar ground last year that makes him fairly treated. He has switched yards to Dave Loughnane, and if that does the trick, he’s interesting.

Nick Luck’s 1-2-3-4-5-6:

  1. Jawwaal
  2. Hyperfocus
  3. Mubaalegh
  4. Amomentofmadness
  5. Acclaim the Nation
  6. Leodis Dream

Buick and Appleby could be on Cloud nine again

Looking at the rest of the card on the opening day of York’s Ebor Festival and although CLOUDBRIDGE is the favourite at 7/4 to land Acomb Stakes (2:15pm), this does not look a particularly deep race of its type, and there is no doubt he made the most significant impression on his debut at Leicester. The well-beaten third horse River Alwen has since hacked up in a fair heat at Haydock to give the form a boost, and Ryan Moore took some time to pull Cloudbridge up after the son of Hard Spun really got the hang of things inside the final furlong. Goodwood winner Titan Rock might give him most to think about.

Ryan’s runner could outrun his odds in Great Voltigeur

The Great Voltigeur (2:45pm) is a terrific race with any number of possibilities, and I can’t help myself but have a little interest in JUAN ELCANO at 14/1. He never really got into the Dante, but stayed on well for third. You can make a case that his Guineas fifth is not far short of the best form on offer here, and he can run well.

Favourite fancied in mouth-watering Juddmonte

Unless there is torrential rain, I am pretty confident that GHAIYYATH will produce a marquee performance in the Juddmonte International (3:15pm) at 5/4. This track should suit him ideally, he ought to get the run of the race, and I could easily see him winning in the manner of Halling or Royal Anthem. All that said, I have the highest regard for each of his three main rivals – all are of the highest calibre and are in the form of their lives: they are just up against a beast who has a perfect set-up.

You might be over the Moon in handicap

I am interested in SUMMER MOON in the two-mile handicap (3:45pm). He had too much use made of him over a real marathon trip at Goodwood, but still ran well, and history tells us that flat, left-handed tracks (including this one) seem to bring out his best. He’ll be able to establish a much more comfortable rhythm here and is a fair each-way bet at 16/1.

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