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Adam McNamara on the Ebor Festival
- AuthorAdam McNamara
Ebor week is my favourite week of the racing calendar. It was the first proper race meeting I went to at the age of sixteen and it’s the reason I fell in love with racing.
For me there’s no better sight then the cavalry charge up the Knavesmire, the sound of the hooves eclipsed by the thunderous roar of the grandstand. Every jockey wants to ride a winner at the meeting, every trainer wants to train one and every owner wants to own one.
The Juddmonte International is often billed as one of the best races on the planet, and it was only fitting that Mishriff added his name to the roll of honour that includes Sea the Stars, Frankel, Authorized and Roaring Lion to name but a few. I wasn’t overly impressed with Mishriffs domestic return in the Eclipse, but to to be fair John Gosden said he only had him eighty per cent fit. He was much more like himself in the King George and was only beaten by the derby winner so he deserved to be heading into the Juddmonte as favourite. He justified his odds and won going away from a very good field. It seems as though this trip is his optimum, albeit he’s still world class over further. David Egan gave him a lovely ride, he rode him like the best horse in the race and got him switched off in the box seat. I really liked the way he let him roll down the straight and didn’t take him back off his stride. I heard a bit of criticism from others about that, but I fully disagree. In a big race like that at York you don’t want to take chances, and more importantly you don’t want to disappoint your horse. Mishriff is well seasoned and knows his job, there would be no point holding on to him for the sake of it when he’s clearly happier being let loose while the others come under the pump.
The Nunthorpe looks to be as electric as ever despite the absence of Battash. The Wesley Ward raider Golden Pal heads the betting, but I’m going to go against the favourite. I’m no expert on American form but I’d have to question the form of the horses Golden Pal has beaten so far. There’s no doubt he’s a horse with bags of speed and you’d imagine Frankie will let him rip from the front, but York is a daunting place to try and make the running, especially with some of the best sprinters in the world on your tail and I’m not convinced he’ll make it home. Suesa bounced back to form over this trip at Goodwood and this race could very well be run to suit, but I think William Buick would rather be drawn on the other side of the track where there’s a stronger pace angle and possibly better horses to get a tow from. I’m going to be predictable, and biased, once again and go for Dragon Symbol. He’s a Group One winner in all but name and I think he was dreadfully unlucky at Goodwood. He didn’t get a run when he needed to and the bird had flown before he got daylight. The five furlongs here at York will suit him better then Goodwood, and he’ll have the favourite to aim at through the race as he’s drawn longside. Winter Power has won at this track twice and can’t be ruled out either, but if Frankie decides to go from the front it won’t help her chances. I’ll be at York myself on Friday and can’t wait to watch this race in the flesh.
On the Saturday of my favourite meeting comes my favourite race, the Ebor, and it looks as competitive as it’s ever been. Trying to pick a winner here isn’t easy, as most of these will have had this race in mind for a very long time. Johnny Murtagh trained the winner of this race when I was in his employ as a young apprentice, and he’s got a strong chance here with Sonnyboyliston. A mark of 108 for this lad seems fair and being drawn 14 doesn’t help as my biggest concern would be that he doesn’t settle as well as you’d like. He’s probably pulled his chances away a few times so Ben Coen will have a job to get him relaxed and covered up from the gates. It seems to me you need a group horse with a handicap mark to win this race, so I’m going to side with Hamish and Tom Marquand. He’s off the same mark as the favourite and both defeats this year have come at group company, notably behind future Group One winner Trueshan at Newbury. He’s also a course and distance winner which is a huge bonus. He’s drawn 15 and that’s not where you would have picked given the choice, but horses have won from around there before so I won’t let that put me off.
It will be six weeks on Monday since I had the operation on my shoulder, which means I can take my sling off. I feel like that’s a bit of a milestone as it means we can really get going with the rehab and strengthen the shoulder back up. I went to Cardiff during the week for a consultation with Geoff Graham, and he’s very happy with how it’s progressing. He showed me the pictures taken during the surgery and I was amazed. I’m no surgeon but I could see a huge difference in the before and after pictures, and I’m astounded by the repair job he’s done. It’s incredible what the can do with a little camera, a few needles and some stitches.
Harrowells offers specialist legal support to trainers, breeders, racecourses, owners and jockeys. Our sponsorship of professional jockey, Adam McNamara, is one of a number of initiatives undertaken in support of the horse racing industry.
Adam is not an employee of Harrowells Limited and is sponsored under a British Horseracing Authority (BHA) compliant sponsorship contract. The views he expresses in his blogs and on his social media accounts are his own.
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