Turf Talk: Fields of Athenry looks classiest horse in Betfred Ebor field

Aidan O'Brien
Aidan O'Brien
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FIELDS OF ATHENRY could be a Group One horse in a handicap and can cap a brilliant week at York in tomorrow’s Betfred Ebor on the Knavesmire (3.45pm).

As ever, the prestigious handicap has attracted a mouth-watering line up and the bookies believe the prize will be heading over the Irish sea.

The first three in the betting are from the Emerald Isle but Aidan O’Brien’s Fields Of Athenry is preferred to Quick Jack and first reserve Clondaw Warrior with an entry in next month’s St Leger an indication of what is to come.

Fields Of Athenry will have to be decent to land this contest as a three-year-old carrying 9st 7lbs but the horse looks on a sharp upward curve following back to back victories at Leopardstown, most recently in a Group Three.

All ground seems to come alike to the horse and at 10-1 he is the general fourth favourite for the St Leger which is a much stronger race than this.

In short, he just looks like the classiest horse in the race, for all that Quick Jack looks guaranteed to run well carrying just 9st 2lbs for trainer Tony Martin who gave us a big winner on the opening day with 7-1 shot Heartbreak City.

Fields Of Athenry is almost that price himself at 6s and that looks a fine investment as part of a tricky final day.

O’Brien has another St Leger entry running in the Melrose Stakes (2.35pm) in the shape of Outspoken who might be good enough to carry top weight to victory.

But if there’s one other big Saturday fancy it’s Ajaya in the Gimcrack at 3.10pm.

Mark Johnston’s Middleham raider Buratino sets the standard here but he carries a 3lbs penalty and was readily brushed aside by Air Force Blue and Washington DC last time.

Air Force Blue might well win next year’s 2,000 Guineas but it was disappointing that Buratino couldn’t finish second and Ajaya looks to be progressing fast based on his excellent second in the Prix Robert Papin in France last time.

Ajaya is entered in the Group One Middle Park next month suggesting he’s a potential top notcher and he could be yet another York winner for Yorkshireman William Haggas whose Ornate (4.20pm) and Scent Of Summer (5.25pm) are also worth keeping an eye on.