Motivado (5/1) may be the favourite in the Ebor betting market today (3.40pm York), but there is better value to be found elsewhere. As is often the case with Mark Prescott horses in major handicaps, he is now looking over-bet and under-priced.
We assess the merits of some of the main protagonists and give our Ebor betting tips verdict:
Jim Goldie’s five-year-old Icon Dream (18/1) has run over the Ebor distance of 1m6f and far beyond. In his final race last season he came second by just a neck over 1m6f furlongs at Goodwood in July on good to firm ground. In his latest run and his first of the current season, he came third in the Northumberland Plate over two miles at Newcastle on 30 June. He was only a length adrift of Donald McCain’s winner, Ile De Re. Stamina certainly isn’t going to be an issue.
This Marwan Koukash chuck out (Jim Goldie bought him for £20,000 in September last year) paid back the majority of his purchase price then. He could more than complete the reimbursement in the Ebor. He has the assistance of Graham Lee and the advantage of a high draw.
Trainer Luca Cumani has a great record in this race and sends out the talented four-year-old son of Tiger Hill, Qahriman (5/1). He is not only proven over course and distance but has won on good to soft ground so the current conditions will certainly not inconvenience him.
On his last outing he won the Bond Tyres Stakes on the Knavesmire in June and his trainer has an amazing record in major handicaps. He has to overcome the disadvantage of a low draw but with stable jockey and York specialist Kieren Fallon on board, he has to be one for the shortlist.
Dermot Weld has had a couple of winners already at this meeting and Sense of Purpose, the five-year-old son of Galileo is well placed to add to his tally. If he had any more weight on his back (he carries 9st 4lb) he would be up against it if history is a guide. You have to go back to 1979 when Sea Pigeon won the Ebor to find a successful horse that carried more.
Sense of Purpose was disappointing in his first run this year in the Group 3 Curragh Cup in July, only beating one horse home. It was very soft ground so we can probably forgive him that. He last ran in July in a Listed race over a mile and a half Roscommon and came fourth in a blanket finish won by John Oxx’s Aklan. Past form suggests that good ground would suit him best. We hope that claimer Leigh Roche can make the most of his high draw, he starts from stall 22.
Sir Mark Prescott’s Motivado (5/1), a four-year-old son of Motivator (as if you couldn’t guess), is the pick of many of the experts and has been the favourite for the Ebor for some time. His most recent performance at Goodwood on August 4 over the same distance was certainly impressive. He beat his closest pursuer, James Eustace’s A Boy Named Suzi by five lengths. He is officially chucked in this race with just a 4lb penalty despite the handicapper raising him 10lb for future events. It means he runs off a 6lb lower mark than he ought to. Prescott has a well-deserved reputation as a man worthy of respect in big handicaps.
On the downside, Prescott’s horses tend to be over-bet and poor value in the big handicaps and favourites also have a poor record in the Ebor. Luca Cumani’s Purple Moon is the only market leader to have scored since the turn of the century. Another question mark is that Motivado has also shown little on the Knavesmire to date. On his penultimate run in July he was 8th of 12 but was possibly was not cherry ripe on the day, weakening in the closing stages. His only other run on the course was in the Melrose Handicap at the Ebor meeting last year. He finished 13th of the 19 runners. Any further rain at York could also dampen his prospects. Past form suggests that he prefers a sound surface.
Hammerfest (11/1) currently looks to be a better value contender. Trained by John Hammond in Chantilly, the cognoscenti have reminded us that the British born Hammond has a very respectable strike rate on his raids across the channel. The past Ebor winner statistics put Hammerfest right in the picture. He is the optimum age to score – five-year-olds have had three times more success than three, four and six-year-olds since 2000.
This son of Fantastic Light has also scored on distances longer than that of the Ebor so there are no questions about his stamina – another very important factor when you look at the profile of past winners. He won a 1m5f contest at Saint-Cloud in May this year. The going was described as good to soft so further rain should not lessen his chances.
In his latest run at Deauville over 1m5f, Hammerfest finished a respectable third on very soft going. He also performed well on his previous run at Royal Ascot in June, coming second to John Gosden’s Camborne (8/1) in the Duke of Edinburgh Handicap. While Camborne can not be dismissed out of hand his prohibitively large weight of 9st 7lb may be an anchor according to race history. Camborne has risen from a winning mark of 97 that day to 106 today. Hammerfest carries 9st in the shape of Jim Crowley having gone up just 3lb and he has the preferred high draw of 22. With a 6lb pull at the weights for just over two lengths, Hammerfest can reverse the form with Camborne and everything has fallen right for him today.
Ebor Betting Tips Verdict
Motivado is a well-handicapped, class act from the master of the mega handicaps but Hammerfest looks to provide much better value in a race that has been a graveyard for favourites. HAMMERFEST is our pick to win and is worth backing each-way at 11/1 with Bet365 Online Bookmaker and Stan James.