Next week's Tote Ebor, already the richest Flat handicap in Europe is set to be one of the most hotly contested races of the season. It's now worth an incredible £1 million and I wouldn't be surprised to see it viewed globally in the same breath as the Melbourne Cup and although there are no overseas contenders this year they may be coming soon!
It will probably take a Group class horse to win the race, and no one is more adept at placing than John Gosden so we are happy to row in with him, and although he has three in the race entries this could be his only runner.
The Cleeve team
24th August, 3.40 York, Skybet Tote Ebor Handicap. (Class 2) (4YO+ 0-130) 1M 6F
Ben Vrackie is a relatively lightly raced four year old, trained by John Gosden and owned by HRH Princess Haya of Jordan. His sire is Frankel and his dam is Kinnard (by Dr Devious).
Ben Vrackie is still progressing, having had only nine career runs, winning once and being placed five times. Although his pedigree may not lead everyone to believe he will be a stayer, his previous runs lead us to think he will be suited by this stamina test.
In his two runs so far this season, Ben Vrackie started off by running Baghdad to a short head at Royal Ascot in The Duke of Edinburgh Stakes, a class two handicap over a mile and a half on June 21st. He missed the break badly so had no choice but to be held up off the early pace, he ran on strongly in the final two furlongs but just failed to catch the winner, hitting the line hard… He looked to have been a very unfortunate loser but as we backed Baghdad there were no complaints here!
His latest run was at Newmarket on July 12th in the Bet365 Trophy handicap over one mile and six furlongs. He was very well found in the market going off as the 3/1 favourite, but once again was slowly away and had to be held up at the rear. He did struggle to get going into a rhythm in the race and was eased down when it was clear he was out of contention.
This race is the horse’s only entry until October 19th and so we can expect him to run. John Gosden has multiple entries in the race so we do not know if Frankie Dettori will ride the horse. However, the trainer has plenty of other jockeys at his disposal who are very capable of winning a valuable handicap on the right horse.
Hopefully, his racecraft will improve with experience and at his current price, Ben Vrackie looks a solid each-way bet here.