The York Ebor festival is one of the oldest horse racing events in the UK having begun in 1843, and as it is one of the last major flat meetings of the year it attracts racegoers from all over the UK and worldwide. All four days of the festival host a plethora of top class racing and none of them are to be missed.
The festival kicks off with Juddmonte International Day, of which the feature race is the Juddmonte International, but the day also hosts both the Great Voltigeur Stakes, which is seen as one of the key trials before the final Classic of the season, the St Leger. Winners in the past couple of years include Idaho and Postponed, which just shows the calibre of horses which can come from this race. This year Cracksman goes into the race favourite having come 3rd in the Derby and 2nd in the Irish equivalent, narrowly losing to Capri who is also set to run in the Great Voltigeur Stakes. This should be a great rematch and I would love to see Cracksman get back to his winning ways.
The feature race of the day is the Group 1 Juddmonte International which in 2015 was ranked the best race in Great Britain by the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, is set to be an incredible race this year as all the top middle distance runners battle it out to prove they’re the best. The race will see 2,000 guineas winner Churchill look to redeem his sub par performance in which he finished 4th in the St James’s Palace at Royal Ascot to Barney Roy, who will also line up in this race. As well as Ulysses who just beat Barney Roy by a nose at Sandown to win the Coral Eclipse and came second last time out to Enable in the King George. This race should finally provide us with the best of the three and I can’t wait!
Day two of the festival is the Darley Yorkshire Oaks & Ladies Day which sees the best dressed racegoers have the chance to win great prizes on the Ebor Fashion Lawn. This day is all about the fillies as the Group One Darley Yorkshire Oaks is the feature race of the day as well as the Group Two Sky Bet Lowther Stakes, also featuring on the racecard. Sky Bet Lowther Stakes will see all the top 2 year old fillies battle it out over 6 furlongs and with the likes of Clemmie, Nyaleti and the ever impressive September all being entered for the race this should prove to be an unmissable one.
The feature race of the thursday is the Group One Darley Yorkshire Oaks which often features horses which also ran in the Epsom Oaks. This is ran over one mile 4 furlongs and often proves who's the best filly over a middle distance for the season. Enable, Winter and So Mi Dar all still hold entries for this race but I don’t think anyone can look past Enable, who will look to be the first winner of both the Epsom Oaks and this race since Alexandrova in 2006. She is odds on favourite for this race and already the firm favourite for L’arc de Triomphe and I don’t see anything beating her in this race.
Day three of the festival is the Coolmore Nunthorpe Day which hosts probably the fastest race of the season, the Coolmore Nunthorpe, run over just 5 furlongs this often decides the accolade of leading sprinter. Last year for the second year running, Mecca’s Angel proved she was the speed Queen as she won in exhilarating fashion to retain her crown. This year will see a clash between Battaash and Lady Aurelia, many had previously thought this would be one for Lady Aurelia after her convincing win at Royal Ascot, however Battaash stormed home at Goodwood in tough conditions proving he is still one to look out for. They are both close in betting terms but we will have to wait and see who comes out on top for what will no doubt be one of the races of the festival!
The final day of the festival, held on the Saturday, is the Betfred Ebor Day the feature race is the Betfred Ebor, the oldest, and probably most famous race at York, it is also the richest flat handicap in Europe. It’s always one of the best days to enjoy with family and friends as groups get together and try to pick a winner of this difficult race. The last betting favourite to win this race was Purple Moon in 2007 who went off at 7/2, and since then 5 of the winners of this race have gone off at 20/1 or higher. My advice for this race is not to go on form or betting favourites, just pick any, you’ll have a better chance!