York Ebor Festival Betting Tips – 22nd, 23rd, 24th & 25th August 2018

York Racecourse

Photo © David Hebb (cc-by-sa/2.0)

The Ebor Festival is one of the premier events on York’s social calendar and a real end-of-season highlight of the Flat racing calendar. Thousands from Yorkshire and further afield make the journey to York Racecourse for four days of fashion, food, drink and of course top, top class racing.

The racing at York is as varied as it is entertaining. The four days include Group 1 contests like the Yorkshire Oaks and Nunthorpe Stakes and lucrative handicaps like the Ebor Handicap from which the festival gets its name. It goes without saying that this provides plenty of opportunity for punters so let’s get stuck in to see if we can find some winners.

Juddmonte International: Wednesday 22nd August 2018

Time Race Distance Tip
3:00 Great Voltigeur Stakes 1m4f Latrobe to win at 8/1 with Coral
3:35 Juddmonte International 1m21/2f Cracksman to win at 7/1 with bet365

The Juddmonte International and Great Voltigeur Stakes will take most of the attention from punters during the first day at the Ebor Festival. Both have stellar casts and promise to be tight come the closing stages.

Great Voltigeur Stakes

3:00, Group 2, 1m4f

A top class race in its own right, the Great Voltigeur Stakes is also a great trial for the St Leger later in the year in South Yorkshire. 13 horses have completed the double over the years and many of the leading contenders for the big race at Doncaster are also set to compete at York.

Kew Gardens and Wells Farhh Go are battling it out for favouritism but it’s Latrobe who looks the most tempting bet at nice odds of 8/1 with Coral. Latrobe’s last performance brought something of a surprise win in the Irish Derby which represented a very big step up for him. However, it’s far from abnormal for sons of Camelot to improve significantly during their three-year-old season so he may be in line for another big win at York.

Latrobe to win at 8/1 with Coral

Juddmonte International

3:35, Group 1, 1m21/2f

The feature race of day one at the Ebor Festival, the Group 1 Juddmonte International used to be known for the shock winners it’s capable of producing. More recent renewals have tended to reward those who back shorter priced options but Arabian Queen’s win at 50/1 three years ago was a reminder just how competitive this race remains.

This year’s edition is shaping up to be one of the best races of the year. A host of top class three-year-olds are included in the market but older horses have won seven of the last 10 races and the wonderful Cracksman is waiting to pounce.

Cracksman surprisingly lost last time out when sent off as the odds on favourite. John Gosden offered a couple of excuses including that he was paying too much attention to the fillies and mares so we could see him in some kind of head gear. At 7/1 with bet365, it’s worth betting that makes the difference and we feel confident that we will see this incredible four-year-old return to his best.

Cracksman to win at 7/1 with bet365

Ladies’ Day: Thursday 23rd August 2018

Time Race Distance Tip
3:35 Darley Yorkshire Oaks 1m4f Sea Of Class to win at 13/8 with Betfred

Thursday is Ladies’ Day at the York Ebor Meeting. That means a real emphasis on style in the stands while the emphasis on the track is on the fillies and mares with the Darley Yorkshire Oaks the pick of them all.

Darley Yorkshire Oaks

2:25, Group 1, 1m4f

The Yorkshire Oaks is a race of the highest quality. The Group 1 feature of Thursday’s racing at York always attracts a top class field including many of the leading fillies of the Classic generation. Indeed, three-year-olds have won each of the last four renewals even though last year’s winner, Enable, became the first horse since 2005 to do the Epsom Oaks/Yorkshire Oaks double.

Forever Together has been well backed to repeat Enable’s feat for Aidan O’Brien. However, the form of the Irish Oaks holds up much better than the Epsom Oaks so it’s little surprise that Sea Of Class is the 13/8 favourite with Betfred.

Having been held up at the back of proceedings at the Curragh, James Doyle produced Sea Of Class late and she just about got up to win thanks to a wonderful turn of foot. Connections will hope that it doesn’t require quite such a dramatic finish this time around but even if their heartrate is elevated, they should be celebrating another Group 1 win for Sea Of Class.

Sea Of Class to win at 13/8 with Betfred

Nunthorpe Stakes Day: Friday 24th August 2018

Time Race Distance Tip
3:00 Gimcrack Stakes 6f Land Force each way at 10/1 with Ladbrokes
3:35 Nunthorpe Stakes 5f Battle Of Jericho each way at 40/1 with Coral

The weekend gets going early at York with the third day of the Ebor meeting. Friday’s racing includes chances for juveniles to show what they are capable of but the undoubted highlight is the super-fast sprint of the Nunthorpe Stakes.

Gimcrack Stakes

3:00, Group 2, 6f

There’s the best part of a quarter of a million pounds in prize money up for grabs for the Gimcrack Stakes which tells you a lot about how highly regarded this Group 2 is. It’s been won by some colts who go on to have success in big sprints in their career and we certainly have some highly promising sorts in the field for Friday’s race.

The Irish Rover, Shine So Bright and Space Traveller are the top three in the betting but as this looks to be an unpredictable contest, the best option could be backing Land Force each way at 10/1 with Ladbrokes.

Land Force got the better of a decent field including Shine So Bright in the Richmond Stakes at Goodwood last time out. Aidan O’Brien’s charge was simply the fastest horse in that race and will enjoy the slightly softer ground expected at York. O’Brien’s yard is starting to come into form after a below par season and Land Force is one of many with a great chance of winning at the Ebor Meeting.

Land Force each way at 10/1 with Ladbrokes

Nunthorpe Stakes

3:35, Group 1, 5f

The five furlong Nunthorpe Stakes has a reputation for throwing up surprises. The last 10 renewals have seen just two winning favourites and winners at 20/1, 40/1 and even 100/1. This is highly unusual for such a classy race but over five furlongs anything can happen and there is no time for any mistakes or bad luck to rectified. Moreover, half of the last 16 winners had not previously tasted success at Group level. Those stats do not paint a good picture for connections and backers of the very much fancied Battaash, who is the odds on favourite across the board.

Battaash has multiple Group wins to his name already and clearly has the class to oblige favourite backers. Given the nature of this race though it could pay to take a chance on one of the bigger priced options.

Progressive younger horses have done well in recent renewals of the Nunthorpe Stakes so this could just be the stage for Battle Of Jericho to make a real breakthrough. He’s had a combination of impressive and disappointing performances this season but Aidan O’Brien harbours hopes that he can win very big races over five furlongs. At 40/1 with Coral, Battle Of Jericho may well be the latest surprise to land the Nunthorpe Stakes and offers cracking each way value.

Battle Of Jericho each way at 40/1 with Coral

Ebor Handicap Day: Saturday 25th August 2018

Time Race Distance Tip
3:40 Ebor Handicap 1m6f First Nation to win at 8/1 with bet365

Saturday brings the Ebor Festival to a close with a competitive card including the race after which the meeting is named. The Ebor Handicap is one of the biggest, best and oldest handicaps of the year but also one of the trickiest puzzles for punters to solve.

Ebor Handicap

3:40, Class 2 Heritage Handicap, 1m6f

The Ebor Handicap is one of the true betting highlights of the year. It carries a sizeable prize fund and a lot of kudos so trainers will often target their horses directly at the 14 furlong contest. A maximum of 20 runners will go to post and competition just for a place is tough. That means the runners are increasingly coming from a smaller range of ratings but the Ebor Handicap is still a race in which it pays to favour those lower down the weights. Those carrying 9st 5lb or more are winless in the last 15 years so weight is the first attribute to consider when trying to profile a winner.

The other element to seriously consider is age. Three-year-olds used to have a good record in the Ebor Handicap but they’ve found it increasingly tough to get a place in the field. Still, progressive horses are favourable compared to battle-hardened stagers and Charlie Appleby’s First Nation could fit the bill nicely. Appleby has obviously been thinking about the Ebor as First Nation has made just one appearance this season. Many previous winners were lightly raced coming into York and this four-year-old is also perfectly weighted at 9-3.

It will be interesting to see whether Appleby decides to pair First Nation with a jockey who has weight claims. Giving the ride to an inexperienced jockey is something of a gamble given how frenetic the Ebor Handicap can be but it will lighten the load on First Nation’s back and should boost his chances of winning at 8/1 with bet365.

First Nation to win at 8/1 with bet365

About the Meeting

All racing fans love a good summer flat festival, and thankfully for UK equine enthusiasts the British racing calendar has plenty to offer in this regard. The southern meetings of Royal Ascot and Glorious Goodwood annually grab their share of the headlines – and rightly so – but they do know how to put on a top-class racing festival up north too, and nowhere is it done better than at York.

One of the top racecourses anywhere in the country in terms of facilities and atmosphere, the jewel in York racecourse’s crown is this four-day betting bonanza held each year in August. Whether its top-class Group action or handicaps, stayers or sprinters, that tickle your fancy, there’s something for everyone on the Knavesmire. Here we run through a few of the star attractions.

Ebor Handicap

Where else to start than with the contest which lends its name to this entire meeting. Held on the closing Saturday and run over just shy of 1m6f, this Class 2 Handicap is one of the top events of its type run anywhere in the world, and having been with us since way back in 1843, truly warrants its Heritage status. With prize money having been boosted to £1 million for the 2019 renewal, it is no wonder that this is one of the top targets for connections of the most talented staying handicappers in the game.

Given the premium placed on stamina here it is not unusual to see not only the top flat trainers, but also those more often sighted in the jumping game lay one out for a tilt at this. The great duo of Sea Pigeon and Brown Jack are perhaps more associated with their success in the National Hunt sphere, but both also feature prominently on the list of previous winners for this contest, and remarkably Sea Pigeon triumphed when aged nine.

The hugely popular Further Flight and Sergeant Cecil are other notable victors from more recent years. As of 2018 though the only horse to ever win this twice is Flint Jack who landed back to back editions way back in 1922 and 1923.

Other Key Races

Yorkshire Oaks

Topping the bill on Day 2 of the meeting is this contest for the classiest fillies and mares in the game. In common with its Epsom namesake, this event is held over a distance of close to 1m4f. Unlike the Classic contest though, the race is open to all fillies and mares aged three years and older and as such annually throws up a mouth-watering clash of the generations. Offering a total of £350,000 (2018) in prize money, this contest invariably attracts a field which more than lives up to its Group 1 status.

Having first been run in 189, its no surprise to see that we now have an impressive list of magnificent mares and flying fillies featuring on the roll of honour here. Oaks winners Ramruma and Alexandrova feature prominently, but perhaps the greatest of them all was the brilliant dual Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe heroine, Enable, who took this in 2017.

International Stakes

The Ebor Festival certainly flies out of the starting stalls, with the feature event on the opening day being not only the classiest contest of the week here on the Knavesmire, but one of the very best mile and a quarter contests held anywhere in the world. Another £1 million+ affair when it comes to the total prize money, this is a Group 1 event of the very highest order and regularly ranks in the upper reaches of the top 10 global races in terms of quality.

It is of course the class of the participants in previous years which has played the biggest part in establishing this contest towards the very top of the tree, and a quick run through the list of previous winners quickly demonstrates the kind of talent we are talking about. The greatest racehorse ever to have laid a hoof on the turf, Frankel, took this in fine style in 2009, with the brilliant globetrotting filly, Dahlia, and star Godolphin performer, Halling, both dual winners of the race. Sakhee, Sulamani, Authorized and Sea The Stars are just a few of the other stellar names on the list.

Great Voltigeur Stakes

Immediately preceding the International Stakes on what really is a spectacular opening day, is this 1m4f event for the three year old colts and geldings. Named after the locally trained dual classic winner Voltigeur, this contest was first run in 1950 and soon established itself as a firm fixture on the middle-distance calendar for the three year olds.

Seen as something of a Derby-lite by some, with this being a Group 2 as opposed to the Group 1 of the Epsom Classic, there may be some truth in that, but there’s certainly nothing light about some the heavyweight names to have stormed to victory in this race over the years. St Leger winner Bustino, Arc heroes, Alleged and Rainbow Quest, Derby king Reference Point, and brilliant two-time Champion Stakes winner Cracksman all boast wins in this race on their CV.

Nunthorpe Stakes

Raw speed is the name of the game in the pedal-to-the-metal 5f Nunthorpe Stakes which lights up the Day 3 card at this meeting. Initially run as a selling race back in 1903, the fastest race on the Knavesmire has come some way since that time. A top tier Group 1 contest since 1922, prize money had bulged to £350,000 by 2018. Unusually for a Group 1 sprint contest, this event allows the two year olds to tackle their elders. It has proven a tall order for the youngsters though with only two coming home in front as of 2018.

Tag End and Sharpo both proved too quick for the rest on three separate occasions in this, but possibly the greatest achievement was that of Sole Power. First successful in 2010, he brought the house down when rolling back the years in 2014 to come home in front once again. Flying filly Lochsong and the ever popular Borderlescott are other names of note in the history of this super sprint.

Best Of The Rest

Lowther Stakes

One of the real features of this meeting is the quality of the juvenile action on offer. The best of such events for the fillies is this race on Day 2. A Group 2 6f contest with £225,000 up for grabs, this regularly attracts a field of the most promising fillies in the game.

The list of previous winners here features a mix of precocious sorts who don’t go on to achieve much of note, and those who certainly do. Subsequent 2000 Guineas winner Russian Rhythm falling very much into the latter camp.

Lonsdale Cup

The classy stayers aren’t left out at York with this Group 2 contest over 2m acting as a counterpoint to the Nunthorpe on Day 3. Along with the Goodwood Cup and Doncaster Cup, this event makes up the “Stayers Million”. Win all three, together with a recognised trial, and connections will find their bank balance boosted to the tune of £1 million. John Gosden’s Stradivarius became the first horse to achieve this feat in 2018.

Gimcrack Stakes

Where the fillies have the Lowther Stakes, the juvenile colts have this Group 2 to aim for at the Ebor meeting. Held on Day 3, this is also run over the 6f trip, and offers £225,000 (2018) in prize money. First run way back in 1846, the race has been landed by the likes of Champion Sprinter Muhaarar and the brilliant Rock Of Gibraltar over the years.

Strensall Stakes

One of the feature races on the undercard on the fourth and final day is this Group 3 1m1f contest for runners aged three and older. Offering £100,000 (2018) in total prize money the event is regularly contested by those runners looking to make the breakthrough to the top level; a feat achieved most notably by Muhtarram who went on to land the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes in both 1994 and 1995.

Acomb Stakes

Taking place on the opening day of the meeting, this Group 3 contest for the juveniles is held over a trip of 7f and offers £100,000 (2018) in total prize money. A distance of 7f can be a pretty stamina sapping trip for a two year old, and this race has at times pointed the way to future success at the highest level over further. 1999 champ, King’s Best, went up to 1m to take the 2000 Guineas, whilst 2003 winner, Rule Of Law, moved all the way up to 1m6f to take the subsequent season’s St Leger.

History

York racecourse is one of the most truly historic of racing venues in Britain, with records of competitive racing at the track harking all the way back to the 1730’s.

Inaugurated way back in 1843, this meeting has steadily built around the signature handicap. The Ebor, of the meeting’s – and feature race’s – title, stems from an abbreviated version of the word Eboracum, which is how our old friends the Romans used to refer to the City of York.

Looking back through the history of the meeting, the name of the great Lester Piggott stands out amongst the great riders to have graced the track. Piggott compiled a stellar record over the years, including seven triumphs in the Nunthorpe Stakes. The “Long Fellow” undoubtedly fared much better than a certain Dick Turpin who was hanged on the Knavesmire way back in 1739.

The Ebor itself is both the oldest race run at the track and has regularly been the richest handicap contest to take place anywhere in Europe. The meeting as a whole has grown significantly in prestige over the years, with the International Stakes in particular having now developed into a true heavyweight of the global racing calendar, whilst the speedfest of the Nunthorpe has begun to attract an international cast, a sure sign of the increasing appeal of this festival.

With the already significant prize money having been boosted still further for the 2019 edition, this meeting, so steeped in history, continues to keep pace with modern times. That prize money combined with the high-profile nature of the festival should ensure that racegoers and the most talented horse in the game continue to flock to the Knavesmire for years to come.