SUPERSTAR Enable, the world's top rated horse Crystal Ocean, sizzling stayer Stradivarius and a sprinting smash up between Battaash and Ten Sovereigns raise hopes of an explosive and vintage York Ebor Festival next week.
Live on the main ITV network, York runs Wednesday through to Saturday with dishes to savour on each and every day.
For many Enable will be the star of the show as she struts her bits in Thursday's Group 1 Darley Yorkshire Oaks, although she won't be much of a betting proposition.
John Gosden's incredible daughter of Nathaniel will be long odds-on as she bids to repeat her 2017 success in this event. Of course prior to that she won the Epsom Oaks and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, and since then has landed two Arcs, a Breeders' Cup Turf and, last time out, and other King George.
Enable is more for us to cheer and marvel at than punt, but then again horse racing is not all about betting. Usain Bolt was a short priced favourite for the majority of his walk-overs, but it was still fun watching him in action.
The only way Enable might be challenged is if stable companion and June's Oaks heroine Anapurna has a crack at her, but that looks increasingly unlikely with the Prix Vermeille a much more likely option.
Crystal Ocean faces a tougher test in the Group 1 Juddmonte International, a race won by some of the greats over the years.
Magical is back, having got pretty close to Sir Michael Stoute's tough as teak sort in the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot, while lightly raced King of Comedy could represent Gosden after his neck second to Circus Maximus in the St James's Palace Stakes.
King of Comedy could well have the last laugh if a step up in trip brings about further improvement.
Don't forget about Japan, either, who could challenge with Magical for O'Brien as the Irish genius tries to land the Juddmonte for a sixth time.
Japan was classy in the King Edward VII Stakes and then banged home a first Group 1 in the Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp last month.
Gosden's Stradivarius, meanwhile, is bang on target for the Lonsdale Cup on Friday.
Last year's Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers' Million winner is primed to scoop the seven-figure sum for owner-breeder Bjorn Nielsen again, having won at York, Ascot and Goodwood already this season.
Gosden said: "He's as cheeky as ever! He's full of himself, a very happy horse. He's training up nicely for the race. Obviously, the Goodwood Cup was not that long ago, so we come into the Lonsdale just trying to keep the freshness in him.
“He probably had tougher races coming through last year – the Gold Cup last year was a formidable race, whereas they probably didn’t go as hard this year. Therefore, for him, it didn’t drain him so much." That does not bode well for the opposition!
For many, though, the clash of the week will come in Thursday's Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes, in which July Cup victor Ten Sovereigns represents the sponsors and takes on Battaash, the speedster who is just about unbeatable on a going day for Charlie Hills but does not always have a going day.
I'm still not convinced by Ten Sovereigns, who looked iffy in the 2000 Guineas as far as head carriage is concerned. He might have suddenly come good sprinting, but time will tell.
York has not been a good place for Battaash, and he has still only landed one Group 1 despite his talent. That said, this is a great chance for the horse in the colours of the legendary Dayjur, those of Hamdan al Maktoum.
You have to go back to 2011 and Margot Did for the last member of the Classic generation to land the Nunthorpe, and before then Oasis Dream in 2003.
Interestingly, for those who think the Commonwealth Cup helps three-year-old sprinters, no horse has managed to win at York since that race was introduced in 2015.
Of course the Ebor is the big betting race of the week, and we'll all be scratching our heads a week today trying to find the winner. The new conditions have turned it into a Group race just about, and I think that's sad. The Ebor is nothing like the great handicap it once was. That said, York will still be immense.
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