The Rab Havlin Blog – York Ebor Festival – Day Four Special

Updated: 26/05/2024


For all of us attached to the John Gosden stable there’s a real sense of achievement, satisfaction and probably a fair bit of relief after how the first three days have gone at York.

The boss always looks calm but I know inwardly he’ll have been as nervous as the rest of us, wanting to make sure preparations were perfect and we could ensure Stradivarius, Enable and Logician all had the right stage to show their quality.

In making it a third huge winner for the stable in the space of three days, Stradivarius was amazing yesterday, yet again showing what a partnership he has with Frankie and why he’s a genuine people’s horse, handsomely winning a second Lonsdale Cup.

Speaking of seconds, a second Weatherbys million pound stayers’ bonus is an astonishing achievement for this great horse. Not only that, it’s an amazing reward for his consistency, plus as I pointed out in yesterday’s blog it’s also a real boost to the unsung heroes in the yard, the guys and girls who do the hard work day in, day out, given they get a slice of the bonus fund.

We can’t sit back and dwell on that for too long though as today is a massive day in the calendar, one with York’s million pound Ebor Handicap at its heart (Sat, 3.40pm).

I’ll be at Goodwood for some decent rides including Turgenev in the Group 2 Celebration Mile, but in-between races you’ll definitely find me glued to the tv in the weighing room, taking in events on the Knavesmire.

Where the big race is concerned, it’s definitely informative Frankie has chosen Mr Gosden’s Ben Vrackie, a four year old who was unlucky at Ascot before not being suited to Newmarket.


A drop of rain would be a real asset for him as he isn’t the quickest of starters in his races, plus his draw in stall 22 hasn’t necessarily done him a huge favour.

On the flip side, he’s got loads of ability but is going to need some luck.

We all thought Frankie was going to win this race on Weekender 12 months ago, only for another of ours, Muntahaa, to come and collar him in the last two furlongs!

Either way we were happy given it was a stable one-two, and something similar again would be just the ticket.

I always respect Frankie’s choice, but if I was forced to pick I think I’d want to be on last year’s second and a horse I rode last time out, Weekender, or possibly Mark Johnston’s ultra-consistent King’s Advice.

Those two have lots going for them in what’s usually a messy race.

Elsewhere on the card, Frankie is on one I like in the opening Group 3 Strensall Stakes, Wissahickon (Sat, 1.50pm).

READ: FansBet’s guide to the York Ebor Meeting

Having won on him three times this is a horse I know very well. He’s a course winner at York which will clearly stand him in good stead, and having returned full of beans from a summer break I can report he looks fresh and well.

This won’t be easy with Sir Michael Stoute’s Zaaki stepping back up in distance to nine furlongs, a trip he appears to have been crying out for, but even so I’d stick with our lad.

Lastly, I’ve enjoyed the responsibility of picking Racing Welfare’s daily Ebor Festival charity bet courtesy of FansBet during the first three days of the meeting, and have got one more chance to nail another winner.

The vote nearly went to Wissahickon, but by a whisker the decision goes the way of Karl Burke’s Laurens in the Group 2 City Of York Stakes (Sat, 3.00pm).

On her best form she’s a class above today’s opponents, and it was great to see her get back on track in France last time out.

Laurens is a filly who has excelled in the second half of the last two seasons, and I sense she’s just starting to do so again.

Without hesitation she’s the one I’d want to be riding, so for that reason she’s also the subject of FansBet’s fourth and final Racing Welfare £100 charity bet. Let’s hope she wins, it’s for an excellent cause!

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READ: Tom Lee marks your card ahead of each day’s racing in his Daily Pointers

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