They call it the ‘Ascot of the North’, and York Racecourse opens its doors for the famous four-day Ebor Festival later this month. Of course, as racing has done since its restart, the Festival will take place behind closed doors, but is set to commence on Wednesday 19th August. There’s a bumper programme of seven races each day this year, and while Betting on horse racing is back, it’s difficult to predict who will fare best. But read on as we guide you through the Ebor Festival, focusing on the feature races of each day.
Day 1: Juddmonte International
The highlight of the opening day is the Juddmonte International Stakes, which is a Group 1 race and part of the British Champions Series. It’s York’s richest race of the season and this year, will be the fourth race on opening day – the only Group 1 race run that day. Run over 1 mile and 2 furlongs, the race is open to horses aged three years and above, and last year’s showing was won by Aidan O’Brien’s Japan, ridden by Ryan Moore. This year, the colt can be found at a price of 7/1 to retain the International Stakes, with Ghaiyyath the early favourite, having recently won the Eclipse at Sandown.
Day 2: Ladies’ Day
Day two is often referred to as Ladies’ Day, but it’s also named after another Group 1 race, and a further stage of the British Champions Series. The Yorkshire Oaks is strictly limited to fillies and mares, aged three years or older, and is run over a distance of 1 mile and 3 furlongs. Again, it’s the only Group 1 race of the day, and the prize money for this year stands at £250,000. More often than not, horses that raced in the Oaks (at Epsom) will feature at York and Enable was the last filly to complete the Oaks double in 2017. This year’s favourite is Love, another from O’Brien’s yard and since the season resumed, the filly has won both the 1,000 Guineas and the Epsom Oaks – so is well on her way to a potential memorable Oaks double.
Day 3: Coolmoor Nunthorpe
The third and final Group 1 race of the Ebor Festival is run on day three, and once again is a British Champions Series race. The Nunthorpe Stakes is the only Group 1 race in the UK that is open to horses aged two years and above – and is the fifth of seven races in the Series, that falls within the sprint category. The distance is 5 furlongs. Last year’s winner Battaash is the early favourite once more and has had a bright start since racing restarted – with two wins in his last two starts, in the King’s Stand Stakes and the King George Stakes (marking a fourth successive victory at Goodwood).
Day 4: Ebor Handicap
The Ebor Handicap is the highlight race on the final day of the Ebor Festival, and is a race steeped in history, having been inaugurated in 1843. It’s run over a distance of 1 mile and 5 furlongs and is open to horses aged four years and older. The prize money was increased to £1m last year, making it the richest handicap race in Europe. However, this year, it’s likely that purse strings have been tied. At this early stage, the joint-favourites are the British-bred Hamish, who has raced just once this season, and Nickajack Cave, who has won his last two outings at Leopardstown.