The Racing Post preview the Ebor Festival at York

High-class Flat racing arrives thick and fast this time of year and York's Ebor meeting promises to attract plenty of the sport's leading lights.

The 127-rated Crystal Ocean helped serve up one of the most compelling finishes in years when narrowly succumbing to the imperious Enable to a pulsating King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.

The son of Sea The Stars holds an entry in the 1m2f Juddmonte International Stakes on the opening day of the festival and rates the clear one to beat in his bid for a second top-level triumph despite dropping in trip.

Earlier on the card, three-year-old colts take centre stage in the Group 2 Betway 1m4f Great Voltigeur Stakes, with Aidan O’Brien likely to field multiple middle-distance performers in a recognised St Leger trial.

Sir Dragonet was catapulted to favouritism for the Derby on just his third start after a Chester romp and acquitted himself admirably to secure fifth behind stablemate Anthony Van Dyck.

The Camelot colt has not been sighted since but is a distinct possibility for York, and a display of any authority will see his price plummet for the final Classic of the season at Doncaster. 

Enable prepares for her British swansong in the 1m4f Yorkshire Oaks on day two, a race the daughter of Nathaniel scooped two years ago en route to her first Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe victory. 

Her campaign revolves around an attempt at an unprecedented third success in the Arc and it would be a genuine shock should the John Gosden-trained five-year-old fail to dispatch her rivals.

York’s third day features the 5f Nunthorpe Stakes, with top-class speedball Battaash bidding to settle the score from last season’s odds-on reversal where he was fourth to Alpha Delphini and the reopposing Mabs Cross, who was agonisingly defeated in a photo-finish thriller.

However, the potential fly in the ointment for this season’s running could be the Simon Crisford-trained juvenile A’Ali, who looks tailor-made for the top table after a brace of Group 2 victories in the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Prix Robert Papin. 

Juveniles receive stacks of weight in the Nunthorpe and Battaash would need to give a staggering 24lb to the progressive speedster, a daunting task but one which fuels excitement for the enthralling cavalry charge. 

The Ebor Handicap, which headlines the final day, is destined to be one of the most competitive handicaps we have seen in Britain with a £1 million pot attracting Group class talent, none more so than the Sylvester Kirk-trained Salouen.

The five-year-old famously came within a head of two-time Champion Stakes scorer Cracksman in the Coronation Cup last year and connections have mooted a tilt at this lucrative handicap.

Off a mark of 115 he faces a lofty task, but adds further intrigue to arguably the highlight of what are four cracking days of action.

by Racing Post's David Baxter at Rewards4Racing

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