Tim Easterby’s Wells Farhh Go has the tools to deliver Sky Bet Ebor triumph at York
And then there’s the imponderable – the ability, or otherwise, of the stayer, trained at Great Habton by Tim Easterby, to settle early on in this fiercely competitive mile and three quarter race first run in 1843.
Perfectly calm when virtually making all to win Newmarket’s four-runner Fred Archer Stakes – a victory which helped the rider convince co-owner Alan Heley to enter the Ebor – the four-year-old Wells Farhh Go showed his temperamental side when running away with the jockey during last month’s Goodwood Cup.
As such, the 37-year-old rider – who partnered the horse to back-to-back successes at York in 2017 – believes that he will know his fate within the Ebor’s first two furlong.
“It’s definitely the right race for him, but it’s not very easy,” ventured the jockey last night. “At Newmarket, he was fine. At Goodwood, he started to overboil and he just took off. I was 20 lengths clear and not in a lot of control.
“It’s just when the race starts. He races a bit enthusiastically and, after a while, you are hoping that he will be alright. We will know after a couple of furlongs if we still have a chance – or not.”
This, after all, is a horse who was a top contender for last year’s St Leger at Doncaster before an injury setback. Yet, as Allan observes, Wells Farhh Go would be much closer to favouritism for today’s race if it wasn’t for the tearaway performance at Goodwood which saw him trail home last to Stradivarius and the all-conquering Frankie Dettori.
“When it goes right, he is a very good horse and I’m certain he will win a big pot. Let’s hope it is the Ebor,” said the rider in reference to the enhanced prize money which, in turn, has attracted a high-class field.”
Asked what it would be like to win a £1m race, he said: “I’ve never managed it before so I don’t know. Seriously, it would be awesome – especially as York is our local track.”
It is also 40 years since the aforementioned Easterby’s father, Peter, won the Ebor with Sea Pigeon – the race that saw jockey Jonjo O’Neill drop his hands in the closing stages before the whole crowd endured an agonising wait for a photo-finish to confirm the result.
“That just shows how hard it is to win the race,” added Allan who says he would prefer a bit of rain to soften the Knavesmire ground. “And how much harder it will get with better horses lining up. But I wouldn’t swap my lad for anything – steady away for the first two furlongs, I hope, and we should be able to give it a go.”
Meanwhile King’s Advice, winner of eight of his nine races this year, leads Mark Johnston’s three-pronged attempt to win for the Ebor for the first time since Quick Ransom prevailed in 1992.
“What more is there to say about him? He’s won eight out of nine for us,” said the Middleham trainer. “We know how tough this is going to be, and it should be for this sort of prize-money, but he more than any horse has earned the right to run in it.
“You love the way he sticks his neck out and Joe (Fanning) is unbeaten on him. Every time you think he might have peaked, he pulls out a bit more.”
Johnston also has Chester Cup winner Making Miracles and Baghdad, a winner at Royal Ascot, chasing a share of the big pot.
There’s a fifth Yorkshire runner courtesy of Kelly’s Dino who is back to his best after an injury-hit career. The mount of Ben Curtis who won yesterday’s opener on Roger Fell’s Tamreer, the horse has to contend with the widest draw of all – as well as a 4lb penalty for his latest success at Newmarket.
“He’s in good form, but it’s sod’s law that we didn’t need the penalty to get in after all. Then we’ve been drawn widest of all which will do us no favours, but we’ve got to overcome it,” said Leyburn-based Burke.
“He had a wind op at the end of last year and it has really helped. He will improve again from Newmarket in terms of fitness.”
Earlier Burke saddles six-time Group One winner Laurens as she drop backs in trip to seven furlongs for the City of York Stakes and what is likely to be her last run in Britain.
He told The Yorkshire Post that Laurens, the reigning Yorkshire horse of the year, is likely to have two more runs – in Ireland and France – before she is retired by owner John Dance.
However he says PJ McDonald’s mount is in “great form” and that it would be “great” if she was to give her many local fans another win to remember.