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Top class fields guaranteed for York’s week in the spotlight

14 Aug 2011

As well as Wednesday's Juddmonte International, the three QIPCO British Champions Series which follow it on Thursday, Friday and Saturday are all set to attract world class fields, with the Lee Westwood-owned Hoof It one to watch out for on Friday.

Hoof It first, the rest nowhere in last month’s Blue Square Stewards Cup at Glorious Goodwood. Can he take the step up in class in his stride and win Friday’s Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes? Image courtesy of racingfotos.com.

While stars like Await The Dawn, Midday and Twice Over prepare to battle it out for the richest race of York’s fantastic racing season on the opening day of the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival, a host of other top class horses are being lined up for the QIPCO British Champions Series races on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Midday won last year’s Darley Yorkshire Oaks, the highlight of Thursday’s card, but this year she will take on the tougher assignment of the Juddmonte International the previous day.  

Her trainer, Hencil Cecil, will still have high hopes of carrying off the first prize in the sixth race in the Fillies & Mares category, however, thanks to his fast improving, late maturing four-year-old, Vita Nova.

Having won her first three races – a maiden race and two handicaps – she has finished second on her last two starts at Listed and Group 2 level. 

That may not seem to give her the strongest credentials for tackling Group 1 company for the first time, but with her rate of improvement and the desperately unlucky nature of her defeat last time in the Bet365 Lancashire Oaks, when her saddle slipped in the closing stages, denying her what would have been an easy victory, she is expected to prove very competitive in the mile and a half contest on Thursday afternoon.

She will need to improve, however, with the QIPCO 1000 Guineas and Irish Oaks winner, Blue Bunting, set to line up against her, as well as the ultra tough and consistent Irish raider, Banimpire.

Friday sees the sprinters take centre stage in the Coolmore Nunthrope Stakes which promises to attract a large, ultra-competitive field.  

The impressive Stewards Cup winner, Hoof It, part-owned by golfer Lee Westwood, has been added to the race and is expected to go off favourite for the five furlong contest.

Despite carrying top weight of 10 stone, he annihilated the opposition in what is usually the most competitive sprint handicap of the year.

He will need to be at his very best to see off last year’s winner, Sole Power, who took the first sprint in the QIPCO British Champions Series, the betfair.com Temple Stakes at Haydock Park in May, and who sprang a 100-1 shock when winning last year’s Coolmore Nunthrope Stakes.  He won’t be that price on Friday!

Prohibit, who has improved in leaps and bounds and won the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, will surely also have a big say in the outcome of the race, as will the Darley July Cup runner-up, Bated Breath.

Saturday sees the stayers come to the fore in the fourth race of the Long Distance category, the Weatherbys Insurance Lonsdale Cup. 

Last year’s winner, Opinion Poll, who this year ran second in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot before winning the Artemis Goodwood Cup last month, will surely prove very hard to beat, especially if the ground is on the soft side.

Tickets are still available for the magical four days of the Welcome to Yokshire Ebor Festival.  To book, CLICK HERE, or you can catch all the main action live on Channel 4.