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Matthew Sutcliffe’s Value Pointers and Punts – Ebor Festival Days Three + Four Tips

GG’s latest recruit Matthew Sutcliffe guides us through his bets for the final two days of the Ebor Festival at York.

He kicked off the Festival with a 12/1 winner as Equilateral won the opening race on Wednesday, and he’s got plenty of confident fancies for day’s three and four. They include an E/W NAP in the Sky Bet Handicap on Friday, as well as his big odds pick for the Ebor Handicap on Saturday.

Published: 2.23pm 23rd August (Odds correct at time of publication)

Updated: 3.56pm 25th August (True Legend + Albasheer selections added)

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York Ebor Festival Tips

DAY THREE (Friday)

13:50 Sky Bet Handicap (Heritage Handicap) (Class 2) (3yo+)

LEGENDARY DAY (25/1 generally – 1.5pt E/W NAP four places *28/1 William Hill fives places)

Six of the last twelve winners of this race had previously had a go over course and distance earlier on in the season, and the Jorvik Stakes in particular has often been a good pointer toward finding the winner of this puzzling fixture. It tends to favour those at the bottom end of the weights and higher up in the market, with 5/12 winning at an SP of over 10/1 with just one winning favourite (joint). Recently, it’s also favoured those who prefer to be held up and that may be an advantage again as there appears to be a solid amount of pace on. With all that in mind, Legendary Day looks to have solid claims at 25/1.

A beautiful stamp of a horse, who last took a C3 handicap at Ripon on soft ground over two miles in April, and has remained competitive at a higher level since. He was an eye-catcher when a staying on 3L 5th in there Jorvik Stakes handicap in first time cheekpieces in May and that form’s worked out well. The 3rd Real Dream has since gone in by four lengths now rated 8lbs higher (was an 11/2 Ante-post shot for this race before declarations), the 2nd Sam Cooke was an excellent 5th behind Vauban off 104 in the Copper Horse, and the winner Scampi is now rated 12lbs higher after pulling twelve lengths clear with Wootton’Sun on Shergar Cup day. Now, Wootton’Sun is within the top three of the market here, rated 95 after going up 5lbs for his 2nd to Scampi. Given Legendary Day was three lengths behind Scampi in May off a pound lower, he has a huge weight swing with Wootton’Sun on that collateral piece of form. It would be foolish to ignore Legendary Day’s form since that C&D run, but I think there is excuses.

He didn’t seem to take to the first time visor at Beverley and the stiff two miles off top-weight likely didn’t suit either, and he was eased late on so the 13L distance appears worse. He was never put in the race at Kempton last time out where he was a market drifter, and that race may have come a tad too soon after his impressive staying on 4th in the Northumberland Vase. He drops back in distance to 1m4f for the first time since that run behind Scampi, and his record over the distance this season reads 21175. The ground shouldn’t be an issue given he’s won on good-to-firm as a two year old, the cheek-pieces return and Oisin Murphy is an eyecatching booking given he’s 9-2-1 all time for the yard. It often pays dividends to back Adrian Keatley’s runners at York as his record in course handicaps in the last five seasons reads 13-4-5 (£11.25+), and 5-2-3 this season alone.

15:00 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Gimcrack Stakes (Group 2) (Colts & Geldings) (Class 1) (2yo)

JEHANGEER (33/1 generally – 0.5pt E/W three places)

Kevin Ryan has an impressive record in the Gimcrack Stakes, reading 21-4-8 which immediately makes Jehangeer a worthy candidate. It may be a tad off-putting that Kodiac offspring’s are 0-7 in the race, but there’s some optimism through Jehangeer’s dam-sire Shamardaal who has sired two winners of the race in the last seven renewals including with Emaraaty Ana, trained by Kevin Ryan. Jehangeer was no match for Army Ethos on debut, but given that one was just touched off by River Tiber in the Coventry at Ascot, it’s safe to say he bumped into a good one. Jehangeer confirmed that promising debut with a cosy success over Nighteyes at Ayr, always travelling well over the field on the front end before quickening up nicely. He was still green there so I’d imagine there’s plenty more improvement to come from him. James Doyle takes the ride who is 3-1-1 with the yard this season.

15:35 Coolmore Wootton Bassett Nunthorpe Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions Series) (Class 1) (2yo+)

BIG EVS (13/2 generally – 1pt WIN)

The Windsor Castle > Molecomb > Nunthorpe was a successful trail for Kingsgate Native in 2007, who was the last juvenile to take this coveted 5F race. The only difference between the pair, was that Big Evs won both those contests, whereas Kingsgate Native had only managed 2nd in both. While it is a monumental ask for these 2yos to take on the older seasoned sprinters, The Platinum Queen’s effort last year showed that it isn’t out of the question. She was beaten 2 1/2L by Highfield Princess, but I’d be inclined to suggest that Big Evs has an aura of star quality about him and is possibly better than what The Platinum Queen was at this stage last year. Big Evs will be getting a whopping 21lbs from the mare and 22lbs from King’s Stand winner Bradsell, and the Appleby team must feel he’s somewhat special to supplement him at a cost of £40,000 to take their chances. While the winning margin was only minimal at Goodwood last time out, he looked all at sea on the soft ground, but was impressive in how tough he was to cope with it and fend of Purosangue. Now back on his favourable going, he’s a massive danger to the older sprinters. With Jason Hart sticking with Highfield Princess, Andrea Atzeni takes the ride who I absolutely love backing in sprint races at York, with his overall record in non-handicaps at the course reading 70-14-32 in the last 5 season, returning a profit of £63.55 to a £1 stake.

DAY FOUR (Saturday)

14:25 Sky Bet Melrose Handicap (Heritage Handicap) (Class 2) (3yo)

TRUE LEGEND (7/1 generally – 1pt E/W 4 places)

The competitive Melrose handicap has favoured those towards the bottom end of the weights in recent years, with just three of the last ten winners carrying 9-0 or more. With that going against half the field in here, I’m keen to be on the side of Sir Mark Prescott’s runner True Legend. A typical SMP improver who ran three times over 7F as a two year old, all in rear and on the AW. He typically improved on that form when landing the odds upped to 1m4f on handicap debut, before following that up on good-to-firm ground at Salisbury. Keenness let him down the next twice, before bouncing right back to form in first time cheekpieces with a 1st and 2nd. If you backed him in the latter, you would have been screaming with the way it panned out. Travelling cosily the whole way, he was still on the bridle with no room at all in the final two furlongs where everyone around him strongly ridden. The eventual winner, Balance Play, got first run on True Legend and made around four places in the 2nd last furlong while Morris’ mount was still held together, but once he found daylight he powered down the middle unsurprisingly clocking the quickest final furlong, beaten just 1 3/4L by the winner. I’ve no doubt that had True Legend been granted a clearer run he’d have won there, and a subsequent 4lbs rise is more than workable on that basis. Prescott is a rare visiter at York these days, but his overall record here reads 79-15-20 (£11.82+) and he’s locked up Hollie Doyle for only her 2nd ride ever with the yard (placed in only attempt). SMP has had two places in the Melrose in recent years, including Land Of Oz in 2019 who has a very similar profile to True Legend, and interestingly he had a well favoured runner in 2020 (Bodyline) for the same owners.

15:00 Sky Bet City Of York Stakes (Group 2) (Class 1) (3yo+)

MUTASAABEQ (7/1 generally – 1.5pt E/W 3 places)

Kinross is the right favourite in here after his neck success in the Lennox Stakes last time out, a race he was 2nd in last year en-route to taking to City Of York Stakes subsequently. However, I do think that Mutasaabeq is a shade overlooked now dropping back in trip. His record over seven furlongs reads 11011, and he’s two from four since being fitted with blinkers. He’s possibly found G1 competition too hot the last twice, although bizarre hold-up tactics were surely to blame for his performance in the Queen Anne. He’s had a break of 65 days and his record fresh reads 1111, so I’d expect him to be much more competitive this time around.

15:35 Sky Bet Ebor Handicap (Heritage Handicap) (Class 2) (4yo+)

OCEAN WIND (25/1 generally – 0.5pt E/W five places)

It’s tricky to judge the welfare of Ocean Wind after his 771 day layoff. He returned with an excellent 3rd behind Yibir in listed company at Sandown before being beaten 28 lengths in the G1 Goodwood Cup. I’d be inclined to suggest that the Goodwood run was more of a leg stretcher as opposed to going there with the intentions of winning, and his entry in the Ebor is a fascinating one based on his earlier form. Prior to his injury, he was beaten just a length by the then 125r Stradivarius after finishing 2nd to the 112r Sir Ron Priestley, who later that season took two G2’s including beaten the subsequent King George winner Pyledriver. He now drops back into handicaps off a mark of 103 which undoubtedly makes him well in on those bits of form, though it’s foolish to suggest he’s definitely the same calibre of horse. He is 2-2 in handicaps, 1-1 on the flat over 1m6f, and his record on GF reads 122, so he has his prime conditions.

16:10 Sky Bet Constantine Handicap (Heritage Handicap) (Class 2) (3yo+)

ALBASHEER (20/1 generally – 1pt E/W 6 places)

While I’ve made a conscious effort to ignore the horror show that was Royal Ascot, I’ll always be thankful for Saint Lawrence landing the Wokingham for us, somewhat saving my week (and tipping credibility!). However, it was Archie Watson’s other runner Albasheer who caught my eye the most in that contest. His three length 11th can be upgraded massively, as he was slowly away and in rear for much of the contest, but clocked the quickest final furlong despite coming up the unfavourable near-side. It was a similar story next time out when relatively fancied at the Curragh next time out, and he didn’t enjoy the heavy ground at Goodwood last time out. However, he wasn’t

beaten all that far there and has been dropped a further two pounds, whereas the winner and he’ll meet the winner Aberama Gold on 7lbs better terms. With the good to firm ground to suit, he’s a lively each way contender off a mark of 95 considering his two year old form, where he was 2nd to Chindit in the G2 Champagne Stakes and beaten four lengths by St Marks Basilica in the G1 Dewhurst, and he also split the 111r Jumby and 109r Saint Lawrence as a 3yo.

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Matt Sutcliffe’s Weekend Bets

DAY THREE (Friday)

1.50 York – LEGENDARY DAY *NAP* (1.5pt E/W four places – 25/1 generally, 28/1 William Hill fives places)

3.00 York – JEHANGEER (0.5pt E/W three places – 33/1 generally)

3.35 York – BIG EVS (1pt WIN – 13/2 generally)

DAY FOUR (Saturday)

2.25 York – TRUE LEGEND (1pt E/W four places – 7/1 generally)

3.00 York – MUTASAABEQ (1.5pt E/W three places – 7/1 generally)

3.35 York – OCEAN WIND (0.5pt E/W five places – 25/1 generally)

4.10 York – ALBASHEER (1pt E/W six places – 20/1 generally)

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