York Ebor Festival

The Ebor Festival is a four-day meeting in late August at York Racecourse. The festival is named after the Ebor Handicap, Europe’s richest handicap flat race and the highlight of the final day. There is plenty of Group race action including the Juddmonte International, the Yorkshire Oaks and the Nunthorpe Stakes. Racing superstars like Frankel (International Stakes 2012) and Enable (Yorkshire Oaks 2017, 2019) have won here in the past.

York Ebor Festival History & Famous winners

The York Ebor Festival has been referred to “the Royal Ascot of the North”, such is the quality on show over the course of the week. The Juddmonte International is often a target for the best middle-distance horses in Europe. It was first run in 1972 as the Benson & Hedges Gold Cup with Derby winner Roberto defeating Brigadier Gerard. It was the only defeat in eighteen races for the Brigadier.

Aidan O’Brien and Sir Michael Stoute share the record of six International victories. There have been three dual winners; Dahlia (1974, 1975), Ezzoud (1993, 1994) and Halling (1995, 1996). Frankel stepped up to ten furlongs for the first time here in 2012 while other notable winners include Derby winners Authorized (2007) and Sea The Stars (2009).

The Yorkshire Oaks is often the target for Epsom Oaks winners, Enable and Love winning both races in 2017 and 2020 respectively. Stoute is also leading trainer in the Yorkshire Oaks with nine winners including four in the space of five years between 2000 and 2004. Aidan O’Brien (five) and John Gosden (four) have enjoyed plenty of success in this race in recent years.

The five-furlong Nunthorpe Stakes is one of the most prestigious sprint races in Europe. Tag End (1928-1930) and Sharpo (1980-1982) won the Nunthorpe for three successive years. Lester Piggott rode the winner on seven occasions. Battaash became the latest dual winner of the race with back-to-back victories in 2019 and 2020.

The Ebor Handicap is the big betting race of the week and is the highlight of Saturday’s card. It is over a mile and three-quarters with prize money hitting a record £1 million in 2019. The last winning favourite was Purple Moon in 2007 and there have been plenty of shock results. Mudawin won at 100-1 for Jane Chapple-Hyam in 2006 while Litigant returned at 33-1 in 2015.

York Ebor Festival

Day 1

The Juddmonte International is the highlight of the opening day. The latest renewal in 2020 saw Godolphin’s Ghaiyyath make all the running to repel Magical. The two met again in the Irish Champion Stakes where the placings were reversed.

The Group 2 Great Voltigeur Stakes is an important trial for the St Leger and invariably leads to a shake-up in the betting. Aidan O’Brien won this race with Milan (2001) and Kew Gardens finished third here in 2018 before claiming Classic success at Doncaster. Lucarno (2007) and Logician (2019) won both races for John Gosden.

Day 2

Fillies and mares are the focus of attention on Day 2 which is known as Ladies’ Day. The feature race is the Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks over a mile and a half. Enable (2017, 2019) joined Only Royale (1993, 1994) and Islington (2002, 2003) as dual winners.

Other notable winners include Epsom Oaks winners Sun Princess (1983), Circus Plume (1984) and Alexandrova (2006). Love added her name to the roll of honour in 2020 but was forced to miss her intended target, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, due to soft ground.

The Group 2 Lowther Stakes for two-year-olds has been won by subsequent 1000 Guineas winners Harayir (1994), Cape Verdi (1997) and Russian Rhythm (2002). A top quality card also includes the Clipper Logistics Handicap over a mile and the Goffs UK Premier Yearling Stakes over six furlongs.

Day 3

The sprinters take centre stage on day 3 for the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes. This race has been won by many of the greatest sprinters in history including Dayjur (1990), Sheikh Albadou (1991), Lochsong (1993) and Stravinsky (1999). It is rare for two-year-olds to tackle this race but the exceptional Lyric Fantasy (1992) and Kingsgate Native (2007) did win as juveniles.

The Group 2 Lonsdale Cup over two miles is the top stayers’ race of the week and often a target for Ascot Gold Cup and Goodwood Cup runners. Stradivarius collected the £1 million bonus in 2018 and 2019 for any horse that could win the Yorkshire Cup, Ascot Gold Cup, Goodwood Cup and Lonsdale Stakes in the same season. Day 3 also includes some top two-year-olds in the Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes and the valuable Convivial Maiden Stakes.

Day 4

The York Ebor Festival concludes on Saturday when the big betting heat is the Ebor Handicap. Royal Ascot winner Fujaira Prince was a popular winner in 2020 and went on to finish runner-up in the Irish St Leger next time. Mediterranean was the last three-year-old to win the Ebor in 2001 and this age group were excluded from the race from 2019.

Promising three-year-old stayers now have an alternative target in the Melrose Handicap over the same distance. The Group 2 City Of York Stakes over seven furlongs and the Group 3 Strensall Stakes over a mile add a further touch of class to the closing day of the meeting.

Best Trainers & Jockeys at York Ebor Festival

William Haggas has been the trainer to follow at York’s Ebor Festival in recent years. His winners here include Sea Of Class in the 2018 Yorkshire Oaks, later runner-up in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Michael Dods does particularly well with his sprinters at this meeting, notably dual Nunthorpe Stakes winner Mecca’s Angel (2015, 2016).

Frankie Dettori usually has some high profile rides in the Group 1 races here for John Gosden. They have plundered the meeting with the likes of Enable, Stradivarius and Logician. Oisin Murphy rode 33-1 shot Litigant to victory in the Ebor in 2015, a big contributor to a level-stakes profit at the Ebor meeting for the champion jockey.

Betting on York Ebor Festival

Ante-post betting is available on all the top races at the Ebor Festival. The form from Royal Ascot and Glorious Goodwood holds up well at York unless there is a drastic change in the going. Trainers usually announce their running plans well in advance so there can be some good value in the ante-post markets. There are also some great offers for new customers during Ebor Festival week including enhanced odds on big race favourites to a limited stake.

Summary

The York Ebor meeting is one of the great festivals of British racing, covering all age groups and distances. There are often fascinating generation clashes in the Juddmonte International and Yorkshire Oaks while the Great Voltigeur can provide St Leger clues.

The Lowther Stakes and The Gimcrack Stakes provide top two-year-old action while the Nunthorpe and the Lonsdale showcase the best sprinters and stayers. There are also some very competitive handicaps including the Ebor Handicap itself. The Ebor meeting is one of the highlights of the racing year!

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