York Ebor Festival Betting Tips – 21st to 24th August 2019

ebor festival at york racecourseLate August each year sees York racecourse play host to its biggest event of the season, as the crowds flock to the Knavesmire for the always excellent Ebor Meeting. Taking place over four days, we have 25 cracking contests on offer in all, including three top class Group 1 affairs, and a £1 million handicap.

Always one of the most popular racecourses in terms of facilities and atmosphere, York racecourse really deserves to see the stars of the track turn up in force, and this week they certainly do. Graced by greats of the game such as Frankel, Sea The Stars and Enable over the years, it is with good reason that this is the North’s top meeting of the season.

About the Ebor Festival

Parade Ring at York Racecourse on the Day of the Ebor Handicap

Racecourses throughout Britain have events that are inextricably linked to them. Mention Aintree to even the most uninterested of sports fans and they will almost certainly know that it’s the home of the Grand National. People may not know definitely that British Champions Days is hosted by Royal Ascot Racecourse but they’ll definitely know that it’s one of the key venues for flat racing. Likewise, York Racecourse is home to some top-class racing, with the Ebor Festival being the meeting that is most commonly associated with it.

Much as the Grand National Festival started as just the main race and then had a number of other races added to it over the years that followed, so too was the Ebor Festival predominantly just about the Ebor Handicap when it was first run in 1843. Since then, though, it has grown to stretch over four days, with each of them having a feature race of their own.

Featuring a number of excellent Group 1 and Group 2 races, the Ebor Festival is a time of year when the great and the good of the horse racing industry descends on York Racecourse with points to prove. It’s also one of the best times to go from a punter’s point of view, with the fact that the event takes place in August meaning that the weather is favourable more often than not and it gives you a chance to soak up the last of the summer sun at the same time as watching incredible thoroughbred racing. The days and feature races are as follows.

  • Day One: Juddmonte International Day (Juddmonte International)
  • Day Two: Ladies’ Day (Lowther Stakes and the Yorkshire Oaks)
  • Day Three: Nunthorpe Day (Nunthorpe Stakes)
  • Day Four: Ebor Day (Ebor Handicap)

The Festival is one of the final big flat racing meetings of the season, so it’s immensely popular with lovers of the discipline as well as the horses, jockeys and trainers.

Ebor Festival Race List

In total there are 25 races during the Ebor Festival, here’s a look at the full card for the four days in 2019.

RacePrize MoneyAges
Day One
Symphony Group Handicap £70,000 3 Years Old +
Acomb Stakes £100,000 2 Years Old
Great Voltigeur Stakes £170,000 3 Year Old Colts & Geldings
Goodwood Cup £500,000 3 Year Old +
Judmonte International Stakes £1,062,500 3 Years Old +
Sky Bet Handicap £70,000 4 Years Old +
Nursery Handicap £70,000 2 Years Old
Day Two
Lowther Stakes £255,000 2 Year Old Fillies
Premier Yearling Stakes £300,000 2 Years Old
Clipper Logistics Handicap £85,000 3 Years Old +
Yorkshire Oaks £400,000 3 Year Old + Fillies & Mares
Galtres Stakes £70,000 3 Years Old + Fillies & Mares
EBF Fillies' Handicap £70,000 3 Years Old + Fillies & Mares
Day Three
Sky Bet Handicap £70,000 3 Years Old +
Lonsdale Cup Stakes £225,000 3 Years Old +
Gimcrack Stakes £225,000 2 Years Old
Nunthorpe Stakes £400,000 2 Years Old +
Convivial Maiden Stakes £70,000 2 Years Old
Nationwide Handicap £70,000 2 Years Old
Day Four
Strensall Stakes £100,000 3 Years Old +
Melrose Handicap £125,000 3 Years Old
City Of York Stakes £225,000 3 Years Old +
Ebor Handicap £1,000,000 4 Years Old +
Julia Graves Roses Stakes £70,000 2 Years Old
Sky Bet Handicap £70,000 3 Years Old +
Apprentice Handicap £70,000 3 Years Old

Ebor Festival Races in Detail

One of the reasons that the Ebor Festival is so popular is that it is filled with excellent races throughout. There’s no doubt that the Juddmonte International is the biggest race on the first day; a fact that is indicated by the fact that the entire day is named after it, with two further Group races supporting it.

Ladies’ Day on Day 2 is a chance for those off the track to show off their fashion sense and those on it to win some top-class races. There are two Group races worthy of a mention, plus a Listed offering that is a race you’ll want to know more about.

The third day of the Festival sees the crowd start to heat up, with many visitors likely to have given themselves a long weekend by taking the Friday off to head to York and there are three Group races on the day.

It is perhaps somewhat appropriate that the final day of the Festival is also the one with the most noteworthy races. Obviously the Ebor Handicap, the event that the entire week’s racing is named after, takes the headlines, but there are another three races that are very much worthy of your attention.

In terms of those noteworthy races, here’s a look at them each in turn in running order.

Acomb Stakes

A Group 3 race open to horses aged two, the Acomb Stakes is named after the local area of York close the the racecourse. It takes place over seven furlongs and has been happening since 1986. Given Listed status in 1998, it became a Group 3 offering in 2006.

Whilst it is for two-year-olds, winners of races before the 12th of July are excluded. It boasts a weight of nine stone and one pound, with a three pound allowance for fillies. Winners of Group 1 or Group 2 races received a five pound penalty, whist Group 3 winners get a three pound penalty.

Run on a left-hand elbow track, horses that do well in this often go on to be competitive in Group 1 races, with more than a few doing well in the Classics the following season. Obviously no horse has won it more than once because of the age restriction, but both Pat Eddery as a jockey and Sir Michael Stoute as a trainer won it four times.

Great Voltigeur Stakes

Inaugurated in 1950 and named in honour of a Yorkshire-trained horse that won both the Derby and the St Leger one hundred years prior, it was known as the Voltigeur Stakes until the word ‘Great’ was added to its title in 1957. Run over one mile, three furlongs and one hundred and eighty-eight yards, the race is for three-year-old colts and geldings and has the following weight information:

  • 9 stone
  • Group 1 winners receive a 5 pound penalty
  • Group 2 winners receive a 3 pound penalty

The race is often seen as something of an indicator for how horses are likely to do in the St Leger the following month. The appropriately named Premonition was the first to win both races in 1953, but others have done it since. In 2018 Kew Gardens won the St Leger after coming third in the Voltigeur Stakes, so it’s not just the winners to look out for.

Juddmonte International Stakes

The big race of the first day of the Ebor Festival is the International Stakes, a race that has been taking place since 1972 and is open to horses aged three and over. Run over one mile, two furlongs and fifty-six yards, it was created by a former clerk of the course named Major Leslie Petch. Because of sponsorship the race was originally known as the Benson and Hedges Gold Cup until sponsorship duties were taken over by Matchmaker in the mid-1980s.

Whilst the Ebor Handicap is the Festival’s most important race, the International is the richest held at York during the entire season. The weight is eight stone thirteen pounds for three-year-olds and nine stone six pounds for horses four and over, with a three pound allowance for fillies and mares. Run left-handed on the turf, the race has been won twice by three horses, all of whom achieved it in back-to-back years.

Lowther Stakes

A middle-distance race called the Lowther Stakes was contested at Newmarket and open to horses aged three and up. This is for two-year-old fillies and was inaugurated in 1946, named in honour of the fifth Earl of Lonsdale, Hugh Lowther.

Run over six furlongs on the straight, the weight information is nine stone, with a three pound penalty for winners of Group 1 or Group 2 races. This race can be seen as an indication of how horses will do in the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket in September. Fairyland won both in 2018, for example.

Yorkshire Oaks

The Yorkshire Oaks is a Group 1 race open to fillies and mares that are three and over. Run over one mile, three furlongs and one hundred and eighty-eight yards, it was established back in 1849 and was originally only for fillies aged three. It was a Group 1 race as soon as the classification was introduced in 1971, being opened up to older horses and mares from 1991.

run left-handed on turf, it is a race that often sees horses that have done well in The Oaks entered into it. Brown Duchess became the first horse to win both races in 1861. Weight-wise, it’s eight stone twelve pounds for three years olds and nine stone seven pound for horses aged four and over.

Galtres Stakes

The Galtres Stakes had the name of the flat racing champion trainer Sir Henry Cecil added to it in 2014, the year after he’d passed away. Run over one mile, three furlongs and one hundred and eighty-eight yards, it is similar to the Yorkshire Oaks in many ways. Even the weight restrictions are similar, with the big difference coming in the form of horses that have either won a Group race or placed in a Group 1 offering since the age of two being excluded from qualification.

Coming with a four pound penalty for Listed race winners, the Galtres Stakes has never been won by a horse more than once. Frankie Dettori is the most successful jockey, notching up seven wins between 1990 and 2018, whilst Luca Cumani takes the most successful trainer title thanks to eight wins from 1990 to 1999.

Lonsdale Cup

A Group 2 flat race open to horses aged three and over, the Lonsdale Cup was known as the Lonsdale Stakes for a time. It was run over a distance of one mile, seven furlongs an one hundred and ninety-eight yards, being extended to its current distance of two miles and fifty-six furlongs in 2007.

A Listed race before being promoted to Group 3 in 1998, it gained Group 2 status six years later. Horses that do well here often go on to be competitive in the Doncaster Cup the following month. There’s some weight information for you, which is as follows:

  • 3-year-olds: 8 stone 5 pounds
  • 4-year-olds and over: 9 stone 3 pounds
  • Fillies and mares receive a 3 pound allowance
  • Horses that have won Group 1 races receive a 3 pound penalty

Interestingly, five different horses won the race twice between 1992 and 2018. Further Flight did so in 1992 and 1993, then Double Eclipse manager it in 1995 and 1997. Celeric won it in the intervening year of 1996 then repeated the trick in 1999. Persian Punch romped home as the winner in both 1998 and 2001, whilst Opinion Poll became the second horse to achieve consecutive victories in 2010 and 2011.

Gimcrack Stakes

The Gimcrack Stakes is another race that has been taking place since the early days of the Festival, having been inaugurated in 1846. It was named after Gimcrack, one of the eighteenth century’s most successful horses who won twenty-seven times in thirty-six outings.

Originally open to horses of any sex, it was restricted to males in 1987. Open to two-year-old colts and geldings, the weight is nine stone with a three pound penalty for horses that have won a Group 1 or Group 2 race. The race takes place over six furlongs and as well as the joy of victory, winning owners are also asked to give a speech at the Gimcrack Dinner at York Racecourse in December.

Nunthorpe Stakes

Whilst both the Lonsdale Cup and the Gimcrack Stakes are important races in the flat racing season, there’s no doubt that the Nunthorpe Stakes takes the headlines on day three of the Festival. It is relatively young for such an important race, having been inaugurated in 1922 when a previous race was re-jigged. Named after the Nunthorpe area of York, it’s a five furlong race for two-year-olds and over with the following weight information:

  • 2-year-olds: 8 stone 1 pound
  • 3-year-olds: 9 stone 9 pounds
  • 4-year-olds and over: 9 stone 11 pounds
  • Fillies and mares receive a 3 pound allowance

The race has enjoyed numerous different sponsors over the years, with its title changing accordingly. It was the William Hill Sprint Championship between 1976 and 1989, for example, because of its link to the bookmaker. The race was made part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge in 2011, with winners entered into the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.

The only Group 1 race in the UK that is open to geldings of two years of age, the race is one of only a few that allow two-year-olds of any gender to go up against older horses. Tag End won it three times in succession between 1928 and 1930, with Sharpo doing the same thing from 1980 to 1982. Lester Piggott is the race’s leading jockey thanks to his seven wins between 1958 and 1978.

Strensall Stakes

Run over one mile and one hundred and seventy-seven yards, this race was named after the small village of Strensall that is located not far from York. Previously limited to fillies and run over seven furlongs, it was opened up to males and had its distance lengthened to its current one in 1987. Having been a Listed race for a time, it was made a Group 3 offering in 2003.

The race wasn’t always part of the Ebor Festival and was only moved to the August meeting in 2008. Open to horses aged three and over, it had the following weight information you might want to know about:

  • 3-year-olds: 8 stone 12 pounds
  • 4-year-olds and up: 9 stone 5 pounds
  • Fillies and mares receive a 3 pound allowance
  • Group 1 winners get a penalty of 7 pounds
  • Group 2 winners get a penalty of 5 pounds
  • Group 3 winners get a penalty of 3 pounds

Echo of Light was the only horse to have won it twice between 1986 and 2018, doing so consecutively in 2006 and 2007. Both of those wins came courtesy of Frankie Dettori, who is also the race’s most successful jockey. The trainer, Saeed bin Suroor, saw his horses win the race more often than any other trainer during the same period.

City Of York Stakes

It’s entirely right that a race named after the city in which the meeting takes place has enough about it to make it worthy of your attention. The City of York Stakes is for horses aged three and over and is run left-handed on the turf. It takes place over seven furlongs and has the following weight information attached to it:

  • 3-year-olds: 8 stone 12 pounds
  • 4-year-olds and over: 9 stone 3 pounds
  • Fillies and mares receive a 3 pound allowance
  • Group 1 winners get a 7 pound penalty
  • Group 2 winners get a 5 pound penalty
  • Group 3 winners get a 3 pound penalty

Ebor Handicap

Now we get to the big one of the week, the Ebor Handicap. There’s an argument that the entire Festival owes its very existence to the inauguration of this race in 1843 when it was known as the Great Ebor Handicap. It gets its name from the Latin word Eboracum, which was what the Romans called York.

Created by a clerk of the course called John Orton, the race was originally run over two miles but had its distance cut by two furlongs. As a result, the race currently takes place over one mile, five furlongs and one hundred and eighty-eight yards. It’s open to three-year-olds and the weight carried by each horse is decided by the handicapper.

Run left-handed on the turf, you might well wonder why exactly it is such a beloved race. At least part of the reason comes in the form of the prize money, which makes it Europe’s most valuable handicap flat race. It stood at £500,000 in 2018, with more than £300,000 of that going to the winner. Between its first running and 2018, only one horse has won the race more than once: Flint Jack in 1922 and 1923.

Roses Stakes

Last but not least, the Roses Stakes is a Listed race that is open to two-year-olds. The weight is nine stone, with a five pound allowance for fillies and mares. Winners of Group races receive a penalty of five pounds, whilst winners of Listed races receive a three pound one.

Run over five furlongs on the straight, the race is often the penultimate one of the Ebor Festival. Obviously no horse has won it more than once else they’d have been lying about their age, but Frankie Dettori, Jamie Spencer and John Carroll all won it three times as jockeys between 1991 and 2018. As with other races during the Festival, the 2008 running of the Roses Stakes didn’t take place because of a waterlogged course.