Sir Mark Prescott had a miserable start to the 2014 campaign with a number of his horses picking up a virus. The baronet decided to close his stables until he was satisfied all his horses were fully recovered and the results have been plain to see since he had his first proper runners of the campaign in July, writes Elliot Slater.
Amongst a stream of recent winners for Prescott is Pallasator, a big, rangy son of the Derby winner Motivator, who was very progressive in 2012 when winning all three of his handicap races. He was only lightly raced last term – including finishing fifth in the Cesarewitch Handicap – and this year has really been making up for lost time, failing by just a neck to catch De Rigeur in the valuable Old Newton Cup at Haydock on his seasonal reappearance, then most recently putting up a great display in beating Double Bluff by an impressive two lengths in a tough 12-furlong handicap at Ascot on ‘King George’ day.
Pallasator looks just the right type of horse for tough race like the one-mile-six furlong Ebor Handicap, Europe’s most valuable staying handicap and a race in which the hurly-burly can affect horses who aren’t robust enough to stand their ground. That shouldn’t be a problem for Pallasator who is literally built like a tank. Anything that crosses swords with him during the contest is sure to know they’ve been in a fight, even before they reach the business end of the contest!
Heavily supported following his taking victory at Ascot, Pallasator is currently favourite with Betfair in their ante-post list for the big race at odds of 7.4.There are plenty of other horses however that have claims to serious consideration for a race much sought after by trainers the length and breadth of Britain and further afield.
Like Sir Mark Prescott, Luca Cumani is based at Newmarket and is always a man to respect when saddling runners in top handicaps. The Italian-born trainer won the Ebor in 1999 with Vicious Circle, hit the target again with Mephisto in 2004, and most recently with Purple Moon in 2007. He’s had a number of horses run well in the race since and this year looks to have a likely sort in the shape of Havana Cooler.
A rock solid third in the Duke of Edinburgh Handicap at Royal Ascot in June, Havana Cooler was slightly disappointing when sent off favourite for the Old Newton Cup and only able to finish sixth behind De Rigeur and Pallasator, but he bounced back with a big effort last time out at Glorious Goodwood when only just coming off second best in a titanic tussle with Van Percy in the value Summer Handicap.
Pallasator, Havana Cooler, or one of a host of other potential leading contenders for a race that attracts a crowd of around 40,000 and is one of the hottest betting heats of the year, the Ebor Handicap promises to be, as always, a tremendous spectacle.