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Friday, 16 November, 2018

Red-hot Ebor favourite Stratum could miss out after being left outside top 20

Stratum and Robert Winston power home well clear in the JLT Cup at Newbury
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Punters were left to sweat over the participation of market leader Stratum in Saturday's Sky Bet Ebor Handicap.

With York's prestige handicap raised in value to £500,000 for the first time a place in the starting line-up is likely to be more coveted than ever.

That has left Stratum, the Tony Bloom-owned winner of the inaugural JLT Handicap and the sponsors' 7-2 favourite, having to rely on other horses not being declared to be guaranteed a start.

After 71 horses were left in on Monday, the Willie Mullins-trained Stratum was the 23rd horse in the weights for a race which has a maximum field of 20.

"Whether Stratum gets in or not will massively change the complexion of the betting," said Sky Bet spokesman Michael Shinners.

"Ante-post he has been the best-backed horse and could go off as one of the shortest-priced Ebor favourites of recent years."

At 9-1, Blakeney Point is next in the betting,  but after booking Ryan Moore, trainer Roger Charlton learned the jockey may be needed in the US to partner Mendelssohn in the Travers Stakes.

Moore's agent Tony Hind said: "Ryan could be going to Saratoga but that's not confirmed yet."

Charlton faces an anxious wait to see if Ryan Moore can ride Blakeney Point
Charlton said: "It sounds like we're not going to have Ryan so I'm going to have to search again.

"Blakeney Point has been running well in races he couldn't possibly win like Listed and Group races. We've always been thinking about this race for him because it's a huge prize.

"He's a very uncomplicated horse who takes a lot of getting fit but has done quite a bit of work lately. I'd rather it was good to soft rather than good to firm but there's nothing we can do about that.

"He'll probably have blinkers on for the first time. You need positives to win a race like the Ebor and a good draw too – with Ryan booked we thought that would give him a slight edge.

"This weekend is a complete nightmare for jockeys with good races everywhere and not enough riders."

14-1 shot Sir Chauvelin, who scored at Goodwood, is on 9st 2lb with Stratum but as he carries a penalty he requires seven to come out, leaving trainer Jim Goldie pessimistic about claiming a slot.

"I imagine we'll be taking on Stradivarius in the Lonsdale Cup as I can't see enough horses coming out now they've paid their entry fee," he said. "Ironically he's now rated 104 but his penalty only gets him to the bottom of those on 9st 2lb.

"I would love him to run in the Ebor and I'll probably have to declare him for both races – it'll be my headache if he gets in both."

There is a slim chance Lord Yeats will defect from the top 20 as according to trainer Jedd O'Keeffe he needs rain. 

"We'd like to run at York on Saturday, but he's not a definite runner because of the conditions," he said. "We'll be monitoring the ground and the weather throughout the week."

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Whether Stratum gets in or not will massively change the complexion of the betting
E.W. Terms
Sky bet