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Mishriff excels at York as Mulholland doubles up at Worcester

Regardless of which racing code is your passion, there is a universal sense of excitement when truly great horses line up beside each other. Kauto Star, for example, became a household name, not just for his brilliant performances on their own, but for the fact that they often came against his brilliant rival, Denman. Yes, we all want to see a great horse romping home with 20 lengths to spare, particularly if their name is on your betting slip. But rivalries make for box-office viewing.

For most of us, though, a great race is a subjective experience. But there is literally a science to it carried out by officials. In reviewing 2020 in racing, the powers that be calculated that the (official) World’s Best Race of the Year was the Juddmonte International Stakes at the York Ebor Festival. How did they arrive at that? They tallied up the ratings of the first four home, and calculated that they had the highest accumulative total of any race last year – simple.

Unfortunately for the organisers of this year’s York Ebor Festival, they are unlikely to get that marketer’s dream of an accolade for yesterday's Juddmonte International Stakes. One of the main reasons for that is the withdrawal of St Mark’s Basilica (the world’s joint-highest rated flat racing horse) from the event through injury. It’s a big loss for the festival, but it certainly does not mean the Juddmonte Stakes will be seen as a dud – far from it. As we said, a great race is a subjective experience.

Juddmonte Stakes is a huge betting event

And as it happens, we had an intriguing battle at the top of the Juddmonte Stakes’ card, featuring Mishriff and Love. Both are superb horses, and both were among the top tips for Day 1 of the Ebor Festival. Love was drafted into the race late, effectively to replace St Mark’s Basilica for Aidan O’Brien’s yard. Ryan Moore and Love won the 1000 Guineas last year, but it was the performance in the Oaks in July 2020 that really caught the eye. Love took the Oaks in incredible style, setting a new record pace in the race of 2m 34s.

Adayar beat the pair in July

Love and Mishriff have previous, clashing at Ascot in July in the Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. Mishriff was 1¾ lengths behind the winner Adayar (who is the co-holder of that best flat racing horse in the world rating with St Mark’s Basilica), and Love was a further 1¾ lengths behind Mishriff. But she seemed a bit off on that day, although after yesterday, you'd say she's well held by Mishriff.

There’s plenty of other intriguing races at York this year, including Stradivarius going for a record third Lonsdale Cup on Friday and Snowfall looking to becoming a triple Oaks winner on Thursday. The big Ebor Handicap – Europe’s richest on the flat – on Saturday will have plenty of interest, including those who like to follow the flat racing fortunes of Willie Mullins (the legendary Irish jumps trainer has eight initial entries in the Ebor Handicap).

Mulholland doubles up at Worcester

York's spectacular prize money is in stark contrast to lowly Worcester, as we reach the low point of the summer Jumps campaign before it picks up again in September. It's quite a rarity for Worcester to run four chases in a day, and one of these fell to Neil Mulholland, enjoying an excellent summer with his 18th winner, when Exelerator Express continued his good run over these past few months with a fourth victory from seven starts in 2021. Given the other three starts include two seconds and a sixth, owner Dai Walters must be well satisfied.

Translink put his Stratford fall of mid July behind him with a 5 1/2l win in the 2m4f Plumbase Handicap Hurdle to notch up the double.

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