Four days of the best racing we’ll see this season, the Ebor Festival at York Racecourse is one of the most anticipated meetings of the season. It features the richest race of the season for York, the Juddemonte International which has been won by none other than Frankel. With this being one of the best meetings of the season, we’ve compiled a guide for you to make the most out of the Yorkshire Ebor Festival.
The meeting was first held in 1843, which featured the first running of the Ebor Handicap, considered by many as one of the best and most competitive handicaps of the entire season. The Juddmonte International was first run in 1972 and has been won by some incredible horses down the years including Halling, Sea The Stars, Rip Van Winkle, Postponed and most notably Frankel, who graced the Knavesmire with a complete domination of the event. The meeting itself continues to be one of the most popular on the calendar, with the event well attended over all four days. The Festival has only been abandoned once in its history, with the 2008 meeting having to be called off due to waterlogging.
In terms of ticket pricing, the Ebor Festival is one of the best, with the prices remaining consistent for all four days and not rising on the final day. Grandstand & Paddock tickets cost £33, with the County Stand costing a further £24. There are many restaurants, bars and more casual places to eat, so you’re completely covered in all senses. York is one of the few racecourses where the parking is completely free and getting from the station is very simple, with shuttle buses and taxis aplenty. If you’re feeling healthy, it’s around a 25/30 minute walk to the track from the station.
On Day 1 the feature race is the Juddmonte International Stakes, which is the richest race of the calendar year for York. It was won last year in brilliant style by Postponed, with one of the shocks of the season coming in 2015 where Arabian Queen managed to repel Golden Horn to win the race at 50/1 odds. There doesn’t, however, tend to be many shocks in the race, but this year’s renewal looks to be very tricky. Barney Roy perhaps is the most interesting participant after his narrow defeat in the Coral-Eclipse and he will meet Ulysses after that rival had a very tough race at Ascot.
Day 2 is headlined by the Yorkshire Oaks and was won last year by Queen Kindly. The the most notable winner in recent years was The Fugue back in 2013 and this year’s renewal looks a one horse race. Enable is a best priced 1/3 and it’s hard to make a case against her after a dominating performance on her latest start at Ascot in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. In the market the closest horse to her is Rhododendron, but her participation isn’t guaranteed and she has a lot to prove at present.
The Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes headlines the penultimate day of the Festival and is almost always a hugely competitive and classy affair. The last two years have been claimed by Mecca’s Angel, with her quite simply dominating the field last season to win the race by two lengths. This year’s Nunthorpe looks set to be an absolute cracker, with the dominant King’s Stand winner Lady Aurelia set to square off with the progressive Battaash. You would do well to separate them at this stage, with both of them being front-runners who tend to burn off their rivals one by one as the race progresses.
The final day of the meeting occurs on the Saturday and features perhaps the biggest race of the Festival, the Ebor Handicap. It is one of, if not the most competitive races of the season and was won last year by the the great Heartbreak City, who went on to finish second in the Melbourne Cup by a short-head. This year’s renewal is no different and is very difficult to piece together, though the market is firmly on the side of Flymetothestars, with Desert Skyline another to consider at this early stage.
Draw Bias and Course Information
York Racecourse is a galloping horses dream, with little to no undulations, sweeping turns and a very long run-in. On that basis, it should be a front-runners heaven, though that doesn’t tend to be the case, likely due to the long straight which gives hold up horses to find their stride. The Knavesmire does, however, have a draw bias, with it being most prevalent at the six furlong trip where there is a definite advantage to be drawn high, where horses can take advantage of the stand’s rail.
Horses To Watch
Although she is no sort of price, it will be brilliant to once again see Enable strutting her stuff come race day as this brilliant filly prepares for her shot at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in October. The Juddemonte International features so many horses to note that you can barely count them on two hands, though the focus is likely to be on both Barney Roy and Churchill, who potentially will do battle once again. After Lady Aurelia dazzled us in the King’s Stand and Battaash blew us away in the King George V at Glorious Goodwood, the Nunthorpe promises to be the race of the meeting as these two hugely exciting horses do battle for the first time.
Trainers To Watch
In the big races your likely best bet is to follow trainers such as Aidan O’Brien, William Haggas and Charlie Appleby, who have enjoyed great success over the recent years. That said, one trainer to watch very closely is David O’Meara, who has been excelling at this meeting in recent years with wins in the big handicaps. He has also won two of the past three renewals of the Group 3 Strensall Stakes, so if he has any runners in that contest you best take note.
Jockeys To Watch
It’s no surprise that Ryan Moore tops the list of jockeys to follow at the Ebor Meeting, with the most winners at the track in recent years. Other jockeys to note are Frankie Dettori who .excels at the meeting and William Buick is another to keep a close eye on. He had a very good time of things last year and will have the pick of the Godolphin horses throughout the week.