Ivan Grozny has been the horse for money in the ante post betting for the Ebor Handicap at York tomorrow. Trained by Willie Mullins the horse has decent form over hurdles and the trainer hand picks the major Flat races in Britain with his dual purpose horses. Ivan Grozny is now second in the betting behind Flymetothestars for the richest Flat handicap in Europe.
The fly in the ointment could be Magic Circle who won at York on Wednesday. The horse was given a 4lb penalty for the win and that increase was just enough to earn a place in the Ebor right at the bottom of the handicap. The horse is owned locally so it would be a great occasion if Magic Circle won York’s most famous race. The draw has taken place and connections will not be too upset about racing from stall five. However, there is no significant draw advantage on the round course.
The Ebor is a heritage handicap run over one mile six furlongs. It is a handicap in name but many runners are Group horses in disguise. There is a maximum field of 20 runners carrying weigths ranging from nine stone 12 pounds down to nine stone 1 pound. The race is akin to a conditions contest due to the small weights range and a horse must now have decent form to qualify. The days of the low weighted winner are now in the past and there are few unexposed runners.
The competitive nature of the Ebor is indicated by the fact that only one horse has won the race twice and it was first run in 1843! Lester Piggott is the leading jockey with five wins and the leading trainer had his fifth and last win in 1867. Three-year-olds are eligible but the last winner at that age was in 2001. Every other winner this century has been aged from four to seven. The last five winners carried nine stones or more and every winner since 2000 has won carrying at least eight stone four pounds.
Horses that do well in the Ebor often become leading contenders for the Melbourne Cup. The races are similar in that they attract high class handicappers that could compete in Group races. They are now limited handicaps and are attracting a better class of horse than in the past. Heartbreak City won the Ebor last season and was then second in the Melbourne Cup. That race is on Mullins’s wish list and Ivan Grozny could represent the trainer if he runs well in the Ebor.
The betting market is complicated by the fact that Flymetothestars could be withdrawn if the ground is not soft. There is rain forecast before the race so the favourite should take part. It might be wise to wait before Saturday before backing Flymetothestars or bet with bookies offering non-runner no bet. The standard place terms for a handicap with 16 or more runners are one quarter the odds for four places but some bookies may settle bets down to fifth place.
Ivan Grozny has only run twice on the Flat in Britain and Ireland so has not done enough to earn a Racing Post Rating. The horse was down the field over 12 furlongs at Royal Ascot last year but won a 14 furlong Flat race at Galway later in that year. If Ivan Grozny can bring jumps form to the Ebor he could be a handicap good thing. Mullins knows the time of day with his entries in Flat handicaps. Ivan Grozny could prevail in the Ebor to improve his record in major staying Flat handicaps in Britain.