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S.A.S » Ebor Festival 2017 » Long Ranger

Long Ranger

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1Long Ranger Empty Long Ranger on Fri Aug 18, 2017 2:36 am


The Long Ranger, David Johnson, picks out his best ante-post bets for York's Ebor Festival which begins on August 23.

Long gone are the days of a lightly-raced three-year-old getting in at the foot of the weights for the Ebor. Given their weight for age allowance, any three-year-old  good enough to get in the Ebor these days probably should be running in the Great Voltigeur, and it’s no surprise that the only three-year-olds to run in recent years have been trained by Aidan O’Brien who has such strength in depth with his middle-distance stayers.

Given the prize money on offer, it remains extremely tough to even get into the Ebor, and given where the cut-off point has come in recent seasons, I decided there was little point in looking at anything that had a BHA rating of below 99. Given how many of these valuable handicaps now have a consolation, surely the Silver Ebor is long overdue!

The market for this year’s race is currently dominated by Flymetothestars and Gibbs Hill, and while you can see why the bookmakers have latched on to them, neither look solid ante-post propositions, no margin for error in the former’s price given he has raced exclusively on all-weather while the latter’s trainer has pointed out he has other options and may not even run.

The one that makes most appeal to me at current prices is Top Tug. He’s a six-year-old, but isn’t as exposed as most horses of that age are, and he’s actually been progressing well since joining current connections at the start of 2016.

He was runner-up in a very strong race at Newmarket on his reappearance, the winner Frontiersman since proving himself in Group company, the third Mainstream would have won since if he wasn’t one of the most ungenuine horses in training and the fourth has since finished second in the John Smith’s Cup.

Top Tug has done his bit for that form himself since, proving his stamina for 1¾m when a very stylish winner at Goodwood and he acquitted himself well when a staying-on fourth in the Duke of Edinburgh at Royal Ascot last time, when he was caught further back than ideal and also shaped as if a return to this longer trip will suit him well.

He’s guaranteed to get in, is still getting better and will be fine whatever the ground comes up given he’s fully effective on soft and good to firm and he rated a good bet at 25/1.

The Great Voltigeur also look a race worth having a bet in even if there aren’t too many bookmakers that have priced it up, but hopefully there’s enough to allow us to get a decent bet on Mirage Dancer. Simply put, there’s no way he should be double-figures to win a race like this, whether Cracksman turns up or not.

Cracksman is so short because connections have been clear that he is being targeted at the race, and there are several quoted that I don’t think will turn up. Capri and Crystal Ocean are the only others at single figures and I’d consider them doubtful. Capri would carry a 5-lb penalty and O’Brien has never run any of his Irish Derby winners in this, while Crystal Ocean is likely to go the Conduit route, straight to the St Leger following his Gordon win.

Mirage Dancer has had just the three runs, but has progressed with every one of them, doing well to finish third in a good time in the Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot last time. Still a bit green under pressure, he stuck to his task well and shaped as if likely to stay 1½m. That form isn’t far behind what most have achieved, and he still has plenty of scope for better.

Although not widely reported, a gallops report on the Sportinglife website at the weekend suggested he worked well recently and has the Ebor meeting on his agenda, and this certainly looks the most suitable opportunity.

I’m hoping that the patient approach adopted with him can pay dividends with his profile similar to the same connections’ Sea Moon that took this in 2011. If he turns up on the day, I can see him going off around the 5/1 mark.


Recommended Bets

1 pt win Top Tug – Ebor Handicap, York, Sat Aug 26th – 25/1 generally available

2 pts win Mirage Dancer – Great Voltigeur, York, Wed Aug 23rd – 12/1 Paddy Power, Betfair, 10/1 Skybet, Betway

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