Two developments in the racing industry this week were most welcome.
Firstly, the big increase in prize-money at the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival announced by York, with the total prize fund going up by £260,000 to over £4m.
The four-day meeting, which starts on Wednesday, August 17, is one that David O’Meara always points plenty of runners towards.
It is targeted by trainers internationally – just look at Dermot Weld entering his dual Derby winner, Harzand, in the Juddmonte or Aidan O’Brien nominating Classic heroine Minding for her choice of Group Ones. Add in the pair of US-trained fillies for Wesley Ward and you see why it is a fantastic occasion for those of us lucky to be part of it.
We have particularly noted that the Group 1 Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes is now worth over £333,000 – and we have two possibles in that race, Out Do and Move In Time.
Increasing prize-money helps everyone in the sport – owners, trainers, jockeys and stable staff.
The second bit of good news is the inaugural Stable Staff Week. I see how hard they work and this initiative is much deserved.
It is great that every York race has a best turned out prize or when sponsors acknowledge them with mementos. Little things such as the free barbecue at the Ebor Festival are much to be commended.
On to finding you a possible winner; I got my first since returning from injury when Bold Spirit did the honours at Catterick on Wednesday.
I take just one ride at Doncaster this afternoon on Savannah Beau in the 3.35pm. A runner-up at York, she would have a little chance.
Two-year-old Lawless Louis, in the 6.45pm novices contest at Beverley, is probably looking for ground that is quicker, but he has won two of this four races to date, so he is coming along nicely.
The horse that excites the most this weekend is one of David O’Meara’s entries in next Saturday’s 57th running of the John Smith’s Cup at York.
Tawdeea goes for the Old Newton Cup at Haydock at 2.50pm tomorrow. He has won twice in his four races since joining the yard. The ground conditions will not affect him; in fact, more rain would likely assist his chances.
Just over half-an-hour earlier, I partner Lustrous in the Lancashire Oaks.
She was runner-up a year ago and a return to that sort of form would put her there or thereabouts.
After this weekend, thoughts will turn to the John Smith’s Cup Meeting at York next Friday and Saturday.
The yard had a couple of winners on the Saturday last year and have six entered in the feature £200,000 John Smith’s Cup. They include Tawdeea, and running plans will come together during the week.
In such a valuable and hotly contested race, there will certainly be a maximum field of 20 runners.
I see that a Yorkshire-trained horse is currently joint favourite.
That’s Mark Johnston’s Revolutionist. But we will be doing our best to take the winner’s share of the prize-money to another yard in the county!
The next racing at York is the John Smith’s Cup Meeting on Friday and Saturday, July 8-9. Find out more and book tickets at www.yorkracecourse.co.uk.