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Ebor can provide its usual riot of thrills.

OPENING SHOW Lee Mottershead says the excitement is mounting for an epic finale to the York festival SIR Evelyn de Rothschild and Graham Wylie will by now know what is expected of them should they be fortunate enough to own the winner of the Betfred Ebor. The connections of Heartbreak City set a stunning example 12 months ago. It involved raucous shouting, perilously baggy trousers and absolutely no shirt.

The Knavesmire has played host to many messy scenes, the hanging of Mr Dick Turpin being logged as one of the most visually disturbing.

There has, however, been arguably nothing to match what happened after Heartbreak City last year landed a big gamble and an even bigger prize-money pot for his extremely chuffed connections.

Few who were present will ever forget the wonderfully jubilant reaction of part-owner Aidan Shiels, who embraced trainer Tony Martin with such wild enthusiasm he bust his nose and ended up approaching the victory podium with blood stains on his beige shirt, little of which was tucked into his trousers. York chairman Teddy Grimthorpe had almost certainly seen nothing like it during his racecourse reign.

It is possible the 2017 postscript will not match that of 2016. Nonetheless, the Ebor being the Ebor, a fascinating contest is guaranteed. Mullins out to work his magic again What is not certain is whether long-term ante-post favourite Flymetothestars will take his chance.

All five of the lightly raced four-year-old's outings have been on all-weather tracks. For a switch to grass to take place, trainer Sir Mark Prescott and Middleham Park Racing's management are adamant some ease in the ground is required. If they do not like what their feet find during a pre-racing course walk, the Northumberland Plate third will be an absentee.

Even if he is, Europe's most valuable Flat handicap - first staged in 1843 - will still feature a number of unexposed performers.

Willie Mullins, like Prescott a previous Ebor winner, sends over Wylie's Ivan Grozny, a horse who has not run on the Flat for more than a year and who most recently was brought down at the first flight of the Galway Hurdle. That would appear to be a negative. The fact he is trained by Mullins is very much a positive.

Rothschild's Dubka ran the race of her life when caught on the post in a Glorious Goodwood Group 3. With Ryan Moore this time required at Saratoga to partner Idaho for Aidan O'Brien, Sir Michael Stoute, whose Ebor festival began so brilliantly with Ulysses, has booked Josephine Gordon. Jim Crowley, who steered Ulysses with such aplomb, was snapped up by Mullins some time ago.

Magic Circle will know both his jockey and the racecourse. On Wednesday Harry Bentley partnered him to a York success. The timely win earned him the 4lb penalty that gives him the opportunity of chasing the PS177,412 first prize.

Will Haggas be preparing another speech? It falls to a member of the Al Basti Equiworld Gimcrack Stakes victor's camp to make a speech at the annual Gimcrack dinner in December. William Haggas gave that speech two years ago following Ajaya's finest hour. He may soon be required to start cogitating on more ideas.

The Haggas-trained Headway is the one to beat in the Gimcrack based on his excellent second in the Coventry Stakes when carrying the colours of the Royal Ascot Racing Club (whose frontman Harry Herbert is also renowned for his after-dinner words).

Mark Johnston also tends not to be shy in expressing opinions, so he may be most willing to give a powerful speech if Cardsharp is successful.

Mick Easterby would also surely say something interesting if asked to perform in December, but he hasn't got a runner in the Gimcrack. Nephew Tim does and will bid for his second juvenile Group race victory of the meeting with Staxton.

Goodwood card a cause for celebration The York action offers much else of interest, including a super Betfred Melrose Handicap, but this is certainly not a day that revolves around just one card.

Goodwood's showpiece, the Group 2 Grosvenor Sport Celebration Mile, is perhaps not in the midst of a purple patch, but those fond of a little deja vu will appreciate a near repeat of last year's running with first and second, Lightning Spear and Zonderland, renewing rivalry. Indeed, Zonderland has not run since.

Billesdon Brook came from an impossible position to win a nursery at the Glorious festival and is back for the Group 3 Prestige Stakes, while the decision to make the March Stakes for three-year-olds only, as it used to be until 1999, has been rewarded with an intriguing heat that includes the Queen's Call To Mind and the rapidly improving UAE King.

The Queen could also take the crowning glory of Windsor's calendar. Her Fabricate is a major player in the Sunbets-backed Winter Hill Stakes as he tries to follow up his own Glorious Goodwood success. Attempting to do the same in Newmarket's Hopeful Stakes is Lancelot Du Lac, last seen capturing the Stewards' Cup.
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Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Aug 26, 2017
Words:841
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