The York Ebor Festival is a meeting of superlatives,
with York’s richest race in the Juddmonte International,
most famous race in the totepool Ebor, fastest race in the VC
Bet Nunthorpe Stakes, and prior to this year- the longest race
in the Weatherbys Insurance Lonsdale Cup. Wherever you look there
are more superlatives. It is a combination of the flat racecourse
looking at its best in high summer, which is what it is designed
for, with a chance for people to enjoy the lawned areas. The horses
that will come are amongst the very best in their respective age
and distance groups so this is really the premiership for many
of the competitors.
Racing on all three days there are seven races starting at 1.20
p.m., with the gates opening on each day at 11-15 a.m. There are
seven races every day, with record prize money of almost £2
million on offer, a rise of 9% on last year.
The story of Tuesday’s top-notch programme would be:
· The Juddmonte International Stakes The jewel in York’s
crown, this famous Group 1 race with a total prize fund of £460,000
certainly lives up to it’s International handle this year;
Japanese superstar, Zenno Rob Roy, Japan’s ‘Horse
Of The Year’ in 2004 is preparing to throw down the gauntlet,
to the Italian-trained Electrocutionist. Amongst the domestic
based stars are Doyen a previous winner of the King George VI
and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes and last year’s runner-up,
· The Daily Telegraph Great Voltigeur Stakes This Group
2 race should provide significant clues regarding the final Classic
of the season next month’s Ladbrokes St. Leger Stakes at
Doncaster, with Melrose Avenue the Mark Johnston trained winner
at Royal Ascot at York to the fore in the market. Keen to follow
last year’s winner Rule Of Law who completed the double
for the Godolphin team
· The Weatherbys Insurance Lonsdale Cup Now rightly established
as a Group 2 race for leading stayers over two miles it is York’s
longest race; won in the past by horses such as Persian Punch,
Celeric, Double Eclipse, Royal Rebel and Boreas.
· The Ladbroke Knavesmire Stakes A cracking start to the
proceedings, this Handicap contest over a mile and a half should
attract a good turnout. It was won last year by Sualda, trained
at Malton by Richard Fahey
· The Acomb Stakes A Listed race for precocious two-year-olds,
won last year by Elliots World, trained at Middleham by Mark Johnston.
· The Irwin Mitchell Solicitors Stakes Juveniles also take
part in this Nursery Handicap, won last year by the Tim Easterby-trained
Space Shuttle, who went on to win in Listed race company.
· The Patrington Haven Leisure Park Handicap Stakes Malton
trainer Richard Fahey produced Fonthill Road and Watching to be
first and second in this sprint contest over six furlongs, with
only a short head separating them in a head-bobbing finish. It
also completed a first and last race double for Fahey.
Wednesday is totepool Ebor Day, with the action and drama guaranteed………
· The totepool Ebor Heritage Handicap Europe’s richest
handicap race with a total prize fund of £200,000. This
contest over a mile and three-quarters was first held at York
in 1843, and is the oldest race at the Festival and has been sponsored
since 1976 by totepool.
· The Aston Upthorpe Yorkshire Oaks Eswarah, the heroine
of The Epsom Oaks last month, is a likely participant in this
Group 1 race for star fillies
· The Scottish Equitable Gimcrack Stakes One of Britain’s
best-known races for two-year-olds with Classic and big race aspirations.
First held on the Knavesmire in 1846, this Group 2 contest is
coming of age with its sponsors having enjoyed the support of
Scottish Equitable plc since 1985. Tradition once demanded that
the winning owner provided ‘six dozen of champagne to the
Gimcrack Club Dinner’. Many years have passed since the
successful owner fulfilled that obligation; however, he or she
is still invited to provide a keynote speech at the Dinner in
· The Motability Supported By Royal & SunAlliance Handicap
Stakes Another quality handicap, this time over the extended mile
and a quarter, which once again draws attention to the charity,
Motability. The Kevin Darley-ridden Dunaskin was the impressive
winner last season
· The Costcutter Roses Stakes This Listed contest for juvenile
sprinters over the minimum distance of five furlongs has once
again been supported by the Yorkshire-based supermarket chain.
· The newitts.com Convivial Maiden Stakes Two-year-olds
also line up for this race over six furlongs, supported for the
third year by long-established York-based sports outfitters, Newitts.
· The Eventmasters Falmouth Handicap Stakes Three-year-old
sprinters are put through their paces in this race sponsored for
the third year fourth year by Eventmasters, the Edgbaston-based
sports event management company.
Thursday is ‘Ladies Day’ featuring
· The VC Bet Nunthorpe Stakes. Chineur, the King’s
Stand Stakes winner at Royal Ascot at York, could well return
for this prestigious sprint in search of Group 1 glory. He his
trained in France by Mikel Delzangles and may well face Bahamian
Pirate last year’s winner trained in North Yorkshire by
David Nicholls, the nine-year-old became the oldest horse to win
a Group 1 race in Britain since the Pattern race series was created
· The Jaguar Cars Lowther Stakes This Group 2 race for
leading two-year-old fillies should attract potential stars of
the future such as Flashy Wings.
· The VC Bet City Of York Stakes A Listed race over seven
furlongs, supported for the first time by VC Bet as a precursor
to their continued sponsorship of the afternoon’s big race,
The Nunthorpe Stakes.
· The Persimmon Homes Handicap Stakes This valuable Handicap
race over one mile usually attracts a good turnout and is supported
for the second year by long-standing sponsors at York, Britain’s
leading housebuilders, the locally-based Persimmon Homes.
· The Melrose Handicap Stakes Lost Soldier Three won this
well-known race for stayers last year, which is named after James
Melrose, a former chairman of The York Race Committee for 50 years
(1875 to 1925).
· The European Breeders Fund Galtres Stakes A Listed race
for fillies and mares - one of nine races supported by the EBF
at York this season.
· The Jacob’s Creek Nursery Handicap Stakes Two-year-olds
battle for the honour of winning the final race of the Festival
and racegoers will be able to sample the latest summer ranges
from the Australian wine maker.
Mark Tompkins and Keiren Fallon lead the way for the awards given
to the top trainer and jockey of the season at York. With four
winners so far this term, Newmarket-based Yorkshireman Tompkins
heads the table for the Minster Jaguar Trophy, while Fallon is
in pole position to retain his Budget Car and Van Rental –
sponsored award presented to York’s leading rider
As usual on ‘Ladies Day’, there will be a competition
to find the ‘Best-Dressed Lady Racegoers, this year supported
by fashion designer Ann-Louise Roswald .who is offering an outfit
valued at over £1,000 to the lucky winner.
Elsewhere off the track, York has continues to work to improve
the experience of going racing on the Knavesmire and this year
will see four giant screens including one that overlooks the Paddock.
The refreshment facilities have been given a boost by the creation
of additional outlets on the Bustardthorpe Lawn and Weighing Room
lawn. Racegoers in need of cash at the track will benefit from
the expansion of the Cash Back service offered through totepool;
this facility will now be available from five sites including
one in Course Enclosure.
York is keen to work with its partners to explain the world of
racing and turftrax will be operating its speed sensing technology
to the benefit of Channel Four viewers. In another innovation
the Channel will be able to record the process of any Stewards
Enquiries that may happen during the week and then show them to
viewers so helping to explain how the decisions which affect racing
professionals and punters are reached.
The Winner’s Enclosure and prize presentation for the totepool
Ebor will be in a new location in front of the main stands as
the track seeks to celebrate the winner of the race with more
of the crowd.
It was always the intention of York to work with various partners
such as the City of York Council and North Yorkshire Police to
study the events of Royal Ascot at York, with the aim of improving
York racedays. Whilst we accept that everyone’s experience
of a journey is individual, there was widespread praise from racegoers
and racing professionals for how the traffic plan was working
by the end of the week. The City of York Council intends to re-introduce
some of the important elements of the traffic system used during
Royal Ascot at York for the Ebor Festival.