Sky Bet's 7/2 favourite Stratum heads 71 five-day confirmations for the £500,000 Sky Bet Ebor, the famous heritage handicap staged over a mile and six furlongs at York this Saturday, August 25, the fourth and final day of the Welcome To Yorkshire Ebor Festival.
Stratum (9st 2lb), one of 11 contenders for Ireland's champion Jump trainer Willie Mullins, rocketed to the head of the betting after his three-length victory in the JLT Cup at Newbury on July 21.
Mullins, who enjoyed one of his first big victories on the Flat when Sesenta won the Sky Bet Ebor in 2009, also has Royal Ascot heroine Lagostovegas (9st, 20/1 with Sky Bet), Whiskey Sour (9st 3lb, 16/1) and Laws Of Spin (9st, 20/1) among his 11 remaining entries.
Blakeney Point (Roger Charlton, 9st 5lb) is the 9/1 second favourite with Sky Bet after three encouraging efforts so far this season, latterly finishing a staying-on fourth in the G3 Glorious Stakes at Goodwood on August 3.
Last year's winner Nakeeta (Iain Jardine, 9st 7lb, 14/1) has the chance to become just the second two-time winner of the race, following on from Flint Jack who won back-to-back renewals in 1922 and 1923. Nakeeta showed clear signs of a return to form when fifth behind Stratum at Newbury last time out.
The weights are headed on 9st 12lb by the 112-rated Weekender (John Gosden, 12/1). He has not raced since going down a neck to Marmelo in the Listed Sky Bet Grand Cup over course and distance on June 16.
Sir Chauvelin (Jim Goldie, 9st 2lb, 12/1) and Teodoro (Tom Dascombe, 9st 5lb, 14/1) each have a 4lb penalty to contend with thanks to recent successes.
Sir Chauvelin has been ultra-consistent this term and captured a valuable handicap over the Sky Bet Ebor distance at Goodwood earlier this month, having previously finished third in the Northumberland Plate on the All-Weather at Newcastle in June and filled the runner-up position in the Duke of Edinburgh Handicap at Royal Ascot.
Sir Chauvelin has yet to win in four starts at York, but Goldie is hopeful that he can emulate his stable companion and full-brother Euchen Glen, who captured the prestigious John Smith's Cup over an extended 10 furlongs at York in July, a race in which in which Sir Chauvelin finished a staying-on 10th.
Goldie, who trains at Libo Hill Farm near Glasgow, said: "Sir Chauvelin is in good form at home and we have been happy with his preparation for the Sky Bet Ebor since Goodwood.
"He has had a nice break in between the Ebor and Goodwood. We are really happy with him.
"Sir Chauvelin is such a lovely horse and has run really well throughout this season - it was great for him to get his head in front at Goodwood.
"He has yet to win at York, but we are hoping that the Ebor might be his chance to shine.
"I think one mile and six furlongs is his best trip. The Ebor suits hold-up horses as they can go a good gallop and horses off the pace can make up ground in the long straight as they do get racing early.
"He has had a busy year but he's been a superstar for us and hopefully he can put in a good performance on Saturday."
Jedd O'Keeffe is on weather watch with talented stayer Lord Yeats (9st 6lb, 25/1), who has not raced since finishing fifth to subsequent G1 Gold Cup second Vazirabad in the G2 Prix Vicomtesse Vigier at Longchamp in May. The five-year-old Yeats gelding finished 17th in last year's Sky Bet Ebor.
O'Keefe, who trains in North Yorkshire, said: "Lord Yeats is in very good form at home. We are very happy with him but, because of the quick ground conditions, we have not been able to get a run into him.
"We would like to run at York on Saturday, but he is not a definite runner because of the conditions. We will be monitoring the ground and the weather throughout the week.
"I have been thrilled with him at home and it's just been frustrating that we haven't had any soft in the going description, which has stopped us running him since May.
"Lord Yeats has won at York before and I just felt that in last year's Ebor he had plenty of weight and that made things difficult for him.
"We will see what the weather does this week, but I am very happy with him."
As well as the Willie Mullins-trained runners, the Irish challenge is also set to feature progressive seven-year-old Sea The Lion (Jarlath Fahey IRE, 9st 4lb, 16/1). He is three from three so far this season, all over 12 furlongs, and captured Premier Handicaps at Cork and the Curragh on his last two starts. Mustajeer (9st 8lb, 25/1) is a potential starter for Co Meath trainer Ger Lyons.
Newmarket trainer Marco Botti has two in-form contenders in Dylan Mouth (9st 10lb, 20/1) and Crowned Eagle (9st 7lb, 14/1). The former proved himself over course and distance with a neck victory in the G3 John Smith's Silver Cup on July 14, while the latter was denied by the same distance in the Old Newton Cup Handicap at Haydock Park on July 7.
Godolphin handler Saeed bin Suroor, who sent out Willing Foe to win the Sky Bet Ebor in 2012, has two chances going forward in unexposed four-year-old Game Starter (9st 8lb, 14/1), successful in three of his four career starts but not seen out so far in 2018, and G2 scorer Prize Money (9st 10lb, 25/1).
Others to note include Montaly (Andrew Balding, 9st 5lb, 33/1), winner of the 2017 G2 Weatherbys Hamilton Insurance Lonsdale Cup at York, and consistent five-year-old Muntahaa (John Gosden, 9st 9lb, 20/1).
A maximum of 20 runners can line up in the Sky Bet Ebor.
Also at York on Saturday, the Sky Bet Melrose Handicap (2.25pm, 23 entries) for three-year-olds is the first of three races, all run at York, in which the winner will be guaranteed a start in the 2019 Sky Bet Ebor.
Entitled the "Race To The Ebor", the new initiative also includes the Sky Bet Jorvik Handicap at the Dante Festival in May and the Listed Sky Bet Grand Cup in June.
The £170,000 G2 Sky Bet Great Voltigeur Stakes (3.00pm) for three-year-olds is one of the highlights at York on Wednesday, August 22, with the 12-furlong contest established as a key stepping-stone towards the final Classic of the season, the G1 St Leger at Doncaster on September 15.
G1 Grand Prix de Paris victor Kew Gardens (Aidan O'Brien IRE/Ryan Moore), the current favourite for the St Leger, faces eight rivals, including three stablemates in Zabriskie (Fran Berry), Nelson (Michael Hussey) and The Pentagon (Wayne Lordan).
Godolphin's Cross Counter (Charlie Appleby/William Buick) is bidding to follow up a commanding four and a half-length success in the G3 Gordon Stakes at Goodwood on August 4. Stablemate Old Persian (James Doyle), successful in the G2 King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot, also lines up.
Local challenger Wells Farhh Go (Tim Easterby/David Allan) has won two of his three starts at York, including the G3 Acomb Stakes at this meeting 12 months ago. He resumed winning ways under front-running tactics in the G3 Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket on July 12.
G3 Sandown Classic Trial victor Sevenna Star (John Gosden/Frankie Dettori) and twice-raced Nottingham winner M C Muldoon (Peter Chapple-Hyam/Christophe Soumillon) complete the runners.
Sky Bet also sponsors one of the feature two-year-old races of the Welcome To Yorkshire Ebor Festival, the £225,000 G2 Sky Bet Lowther Stakes (1.55pm, 24 entries) for fillies over six furlongs.
The Aidan O'Brien-trained pair of Fairyland and So Perfect head Sky Bet's betting at 4/1. Fairyland has not raced since finishing third in the G3 Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot, while So Perfect was a good second behind Advertise when taking on the colts in the G1 Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh on August 12.
Main Edition (Mark Johnston) defeated Fairyland at Royal Ascot and, following a poor run at Newmarket's July Festival, relished the step up to seven furlongs when winning the G3 Sweet Solera Stakes at the same track on August 11.
Michael Shinners, Racing PR Manager at Sky Bet, said: "We are all set for a thrilling renewal of the £500,000 Sky Bet Ebor at York on Saturday.
"Stratum is our clear 7/2 favourite following his very impressive victory at Newbury last month as Willie Mullins bids to land the race for the second time.
"Sky Bet is delighted to extend its support to six of the seven races at York on Saturday, August 25, the final day of the Welcome To Yorkshire Ebor Festival.
"Saturday's Sky Bet Melrose Heritage Handicap is the first of the three 'Race To The Ebor' contests, with the winner automatically eligible for the first £1-million renewal of the Sky Bet Ebor in 2019.
"Sky Bet is also thrilled to be support the G2 Sky Bet Great Voltigeur Stakes for the first time on Wednesday, which so often supplies vital St Leger clues while our sponsorship of the G2 Sky Bet Lowther Stakes on Thursday is now in its third year.
"We are looking forward to a tremendous week on the Knavesmire."