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York Ebor Festival 2020 Betting Offers

ebor festival at york racecourseThe Ebor festival takes its name from the old Roman name for York, Eboracum. The festival has been going for over 175 years, first established in 1843, and offers three group 1 races, four group 2 and three group 3 over the four days. The most famous race however is not actually a group race but rather the richest flat handicap in the Europe, the Ebor Handicap run on the fourth and final day, Saturday 25th August.

With a prize fund of around £500,000 and nearly £315,000 for the winner the Ebor Heritage Handicap is a fitting finale to a great week of racing in the warm August sun. On this page you will find all of the top promotions from our recommended horse racing betting sites, use these to get the best possible value from your racing bets. Further down you can find information on scheduling day by day, racecards, key facts and history.

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Ebor Festival 2020 Schedule

ebor festival winning post at york racecourse

Ebor is no bit part festival, in fact is has more prestigious races than both Glorious Goodwood and the St Leger Festival. There are 25 races to look forward to from Wednesday to Saturday with a group one race on each of the first three days followed by the Ebor handicap itself on the final fourth day.

York racecourse is a jewel in the crown for both Yorkshire and northern English racing in general. You can’t help but notice not just the historic races but also the longer history of the site that dates back to the early English settlers who grazed cattle on the rich pastures.

Below you can find the race cards for each of the four days.  Further down, or by clicking the name in the race card, you can read more information about the feature races.

Ebor Day One – Juddmonte International Day – Wednesday 19th August 2020

Time Race Grade Distance
1:55 Symphony Group Stakes Class 2 – Handicap 5f 89y
2:25 Acomb Stakes Group 3 7f
3:00 Great Voltigeur Stakes Group 2 1m 3f 188y
3:35 Juddmonte International Stakes Group 1 (British Champions Series)
1m 2f 56y
4:15 Sky Bet Handicap Class 2 – Handicap 2m 56y
4:50 Nursery Handicap Class 2 – Nursery Handicap 6f

m mile f furlong y yards

Day 1 at the Ebor Festival is all about the Juddmonte International Stakes from which the race day takes its name. The 1 mile 2-furlong group 1 race, the fourth of the day and part of the British Champions Series, was known many years ago as the Benson & Hedges Gold Cup, its open to three year olds and upwards and commands a prize fund not too far shy of a million pounds with almost £603,000 for the winner. Previous winners include the great Frankel in 2012 and the race is seen as one of the greatest middle distance races of the flat season.

It’s not all about the International Stakes however. The festival gets underway with Symphony Group Stakes, a handicap for 3yo+ nags, it’s a fast race over just 5 furlongs, perfect to get the adrenaline going for the rest of the day.  The Acomb Stakes group 3 is up second, just under a mile long it’s a great dash for 2 year olds who want to go on to group one races the following season. The winner of this can pick up around £57k.

The Third race is the second best of the day, the group 2 Great Voltigeur Stakes. This race for three-year olds goes over a mile and four furlongs and is seen as similar to the Epsom Derby. The Voltigeur Stakes is a qualifier for the St Leger in September and has produced 13 winners already, the winner can expect to take home in excess of £96k. Day one is finished off with two handicaps, the first is a 2 miler for 4yo+ horses and the second, the Nursery handicap, a 6 furlong spring for 2yo’s.

Ebor Day Two – Ladies’ Day – Thursday 20th August 2020

Time Race Grade Distance
1:55 Lowther Stakes Group 2 6f
2:25 Premier Yearling Stakes Class 2 6f
3:00 Clipper Logistics Stakes Class 2 – Handicap 7f 192y
3:35 Darley Yorkshire Oaks Group 1 (British Champions Series) 1m 3f 188y
4:15 EBF Sir Henry Cecil Galtres Stakes Class 1 – Listed 1m 3f 188y
4:50 EBF Fillies’ Stakes Class 2 – Handicap 7f

The fourth race of the day is again the headline grabber on day 2, ladies’ day, at the Ebor festival. The Yorkshire Oaks, group one British champions series, is open to 3-year-old and older fillies’ and mares and is known for some top class racing from Europe’s prime horses. The distance is one mile and four furlongs, the prize for the winner is in the region of £241k.

Of course the ladies won’t get all their finery on for any old meeting and so it’s good news that day two features a great little fast 6 furlong group 2 race for younger 2-year-old fillies’. The Lowther Stakes, the first dash of the day, attracts some of the best young fillies’ another fast dash with a field of up to 20 horses with around £135k for the winner.

The second race of the day is another 2yo sprint over 6 furlongs open to both sexes. The Yearling Stakes pays well with over a quarter million prize pot and £150k to the winner. The victor will have to go some though with the size of the field in this one.

The third race is the Clipper Logistics handicap, another big field run, this time over one mile, before the top race.  The usually sunny Ladies Day is capped off with a 1 mile 4 furlong class one listed for 3yo+ followed by a class 2 handicap for 3yo+ fillies.

Ebor Day Three – Friday 21st August 2020

Time Race Grade Distance
1:55 Sky Bet Stakes Class 2 1m 3f 188y
2:25 Lonsdale Cup Group 2 (British Champions Series) 2m 56y
3:00 Gimcrack Stakes Group 2 6f
3:35 Nunthorpe Stakes Group 1 (British Champions Series)
5f
4:15 EBF Convivial Maiden Stakes Class 2 – Plus 10 7f
4:50 Nationwide Stakes Class 2 – Handicap 7f 192y

Friday, Day 3, has a similar layout to ladies’ day with a group 2 race, the Lonsdale Cup, second up, and the top race of the day, the Nunthorpe Stakes group one, fourth up. Day three has the added bonus of another group two race sandwiched in between in third place, the Gimcrack stakes (moved from day 4 to day 3 for 2018).

We are eased into the third day with a middle distance handicap for three year olds.  The first serious race of day 3 is the Lonsdale Cup. The Cup, part of the British champions series, is one of the longer group 2 races in the calendar at 2 miles and 56 yards and a nice test for the 3yo+ runners paying just shy of £130,000 to the victor.

The Gimcrack Stakes , up third, is a quick group 2 race over 6f open to two year olds, it offers a great chance to spot the top upcoming sprinters of next year. The prize pool for this race tips over £250k with just under £130k to the winner.

The fastest race of the week, and also one of the quickest flat races of the season, the 5 furlong Nunthorpe Stakes, brings the atmosphere at York up a notch. The group one race goes back to 1903 where it began as a selling race and has gained steady prestige since. The race brings out the top sprinters at the peak of the season and often requires a photo finish to decide who will win the nearly £227k prize for the winner. This race is also part of the British Champions Series.

Day 3 ends with a another fast seven furlong plus 10 2yo run with a decent field (max 20) followed by a similarly large field miler handicap for 3-year-olds.

Ebor Day Four – Saturday 22nd August 2020

Time Race Grade Distance
1:50 Strensall Stakes Group 3 1m 177y
2:25 Melrose Stakes Class 2 – Heritage Handicap 1m 5f 188y
3:00 City of York Stakes Group 3 7f
3:40 Ebor Heritage Handicap Class 2 – Heritage Handicap 1m 5f 188y
4:15 Roses Stakes Class 1 – Listed 5f
4:50 Sky Bet Handicap Class 2 – Handicap 1m 2f 56y
5:20 Apprentice Stakes Class 2 – Handicap 5f

Ebor Day itself finishes off the festival. It makes a nice change to see a Heritage Handicap race as the showcase of a flat horse racing festival instead of the usual high profile group one races. Handicaps are always more open races with larger numbers of runners and this adds some extra excitement for the more occasional racing punter.

The fourth day is the only day of the week with seven races on the card. There is no gentle start to this day either with the Strensall Stakes going off first. The race was promoted to group 3 in 1987 when it was also opened to colts.

The Melrose Stakes, up second on the card, offers spectators a nice middle distance 1 mile 6 furlong 3yo heritage handicap before the heart rate goes up with two big ones in a row.

The group 3 York Stakes (moved from day 3 to day 4 for 2018) is up next commands a nice prize pool with around £128k to the winner, this starts a series of four fast races in a row. The 7 furlong run is also open to 3yo+ horses.

There is no respite as it is Yorkshire racecourse oldest and most famous race up fourth on the card, the Ebor Heritage Handicap. No other handicap race in Europe pays has a bigger prize pool, £982,000, with £600k for the victor. This race card therefore is packed with Europe’s top handicap stayers for the 1 mile 6 furlong run. The race has a similar excitement to the Grand National in that several horses could easily win and rarely does the winner come in at single figure odds.

After half an hour to draw breath the festival draws to a close with two 5 furlong sprints, the Roses stakes for 2 year olds and the Apprentice Stakes for 3yo’s.  Sandwiched in between these is a 1 mile 2 furlong 3yo+ handicap.

Feature Race Information

ebor festival horses running down the straight at york racecourse

Ebor Handicap (Heritage Handicap)

The Ebor Handicap is unquestionably the feature race of the week, despite being a handicap rather than a group 1 race. It is where the festival gets its name from and has been run for over 175 years.  The race and the festival take their name from the word ‘Eboracum’, which is the Roman name for the city of York. It was first run as the Great Ebor Handicap in 1843, having been introduced by the new Clerk of the Course, John Orton. Back then it was competed over 2 miles before being cut by 2 furlongs.

It has enjoyed a mixed history, with the 2008 running abandoned because of a waterlogged track. A race called the Newburgh Handicap was run at Newbury as a replacement, with the name a reference to the original Norman title given to the town. The most notable thing about it is that it is the most valuable handicap race run on the flat in all of Europe.

Run left-handed over 1 mile, 5 furlongs and 188 yards, it is open to horses aged 3 and over. Because it’s a handicap race there are no weight restrictions, with the horses given the weight they’ll need to carry by the handicapper. In terms of that value mentioned before, in the 2019 running the race’s purse was just shy of £1,000,000, with £600,000 of that going to the winning horse.

Only one horse, Flint Jack, has won the event more than once, winning back-to-back titles in 1922 and 1923. Lester Piggott is the best jockey the race has seen, having won it 5 times between 1958 and 1983. That’s the same number of wins that Tom Dawson managed as a trainer, though that came in a different era.

The 1979 winner was the famous Sea Pigeon, who excelled as both a flat and jump racing horse, adding 2 Champion Hurdles to his list of accolades the year after being victorious in this race. Indeed, there’s an argument that he was a better National Hunt racer, having won 21 of his 40 starts over jumps compared to 16 wins from 45 on the flat.

International Stakes (Group 1)

Run left-handed over 1 mile, 2 furlongs and 58 yards, the International Stakes is for horses aged 3 and over. 3-year-olds have a weight of 8 stone and 13 pounds, whilst those over 4 are 9 stone and 6 pounds. Fillies and mares are given a 3 pound allowance.

Established in 1972, the race was the brainchild of the formed Clerk of the Course at York, Major Leslie Petch. The race is the richest of the season at Ebor and the first winner was Roberto, who won the Derby in the same season.

Great Voltigeur Stakes (Group 2)

Open to 3-year-old colts and geldings, the Great Voltigeur Stakes is a Group 2 offering that is run left-handed over 1 mile, 3 furlongs and 188 yards. The weight is 9 stone, with a 5 pound penalty for Group 1 race winners and a 3 pound penalty for winners of Group 2 events.

The race was first run in 1950 and is named in honour of Voltigeur, who won the Derby and the St. Leger 100 years before and was trained in Yorkshire. Initially the word ‘Great’ wasn’t in the title but it was added in 1957. It is seen as something of a trial for the St. Leger, with 13 horses having won both.

Acomb Stakes (Group 3)

Named after the area of York roughly to the north-west of the course, the race was Listed in 1998 and then promoted to Group 3 in 2006. Winners from the Acomb Stakes sometimes go on to be competitive in Group 1 offerings, including the Classics of the following season.

The track it’s run on is a left-hand elbow and the race is 7 furlongs in length. It’s for 2-year-old horses but excludes those that have won a race before the 12th of July. The following weight restrictions are in play:

  • 9 stone 1 pound
  • Fillies are given 3 pounds
  • Group 1 and Group 2 race winners are given a 5 pound penalty
  • Group 3 winners are given a 3 pound penalty

Lowther Stakes (Group 2)

Run on the straight over 6 furlongs, the Lowther Stakes is for 2-year-old fillies Wirth a weight of 9 stone. There are 3 pound penalties for horses that have won Group 1 and Group 2 races.

Established in 1946, the race is named after the 5th Earl of Lonsdale, Hugh Lowther. The best horses often go on to be competitive in the Cheveley Park Stakes, such as Fairyland, who won both in 2018.

Yorkshire Oaks (Group 1)

The Yorkshire Oaks is open to fillies and mares aged 3 and over. It is run left-handed over 1 mile, 3 furlongs and 188 yards and the weight for 3-year-olds is 8 stone 12 pounds. Horses aged 4-year-olds and over have 9 stone 7 pounds as their weight rule.

Established in 1849, it was originally for 3-year-old fillies, not being opened to older horses and mares until 1991. When the current grading system was introduced it was labelled as a Group 1 offering, which it has remained as since. Horses that have previously run in The Oaks are often found competing in this race too.

Nunthorpe Stakes (Group 1)

Run on the straight over 5 furlongs, the race is for horses aged 2 and over. The weight ruling will depend on the age of the horse, with the following being the outline:

  • 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 was inaugurated in 1922 and is named after the Nunthorpe area of York. There was a version of the race that was a low-grade selling race established in 1903, but it was replaced by this one. It has been part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge since 2011 and winners automatically get a place in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. It is the UK’s only Group 1 race open to 2-year-olds.

Gimcrack Stakes (Group 2)

Named after the successful 18th century racehorse Gimcrack, who won 27 of the 36 races he took part in, the race was first run in 1846. It was open to horses of either gender until 1987. The winning owner is invited to speak at the Gimcrack Dinner, which is held at York Racecourse each December.

The Group 2 race is only for 2-year-old colts and geldings and is run over 6 furlongs on the straight. The weight is 9 stone, with winners of Group 1 and Group 2 races given a penalty of 3 pounds.

Strensall Stakes (Group 3)

This Group 3 race is run left-handed over 1 mile and 177 yards and is open to horses aged 3 and over. There are a number of weight rules in place, which are as follows:

  • 3-year-olds: 8 stone 12 pounds
  • 4-year-olds and over: 9 stone 5 pounds
  • Fillies and mares are given a 3 pound allowance
  • Winners of Group 1 races are given a 7 pound penalty
  • Winners of Group 2 races are given a 5 pound penalty
  • Winners of Group 3 races are given a 3 pound penalty

Named after the village Strensall, which is located a few miles to the north of the racecourse, the Strensall Stakes was initially restricted to fillies and run over 7 furlongs. It was also a Listed offering, but was opened to male horses and given its present length in 1987 before being promoted to Group 3 in 2003.

It has only been part of the Ebor Festival since 2008, ironically having its running cancelled that year because of the course being waterlogged.

Lonsdale Cup (Group 2)

Known for a time as the Lonsdale Stakes, it was 1 mile, 7 furlongs and 198 yards long originally. It was a Listed offering until it was promoted to Group 3 in 1998 and then became a Group 2 race in 2004. It was extended to its current distance 3 years after that and horses that take part in this race often do well in the Doncaster Cup the month after.

The race is run left-handed over 2 miles and 56 yards and is open to horses aged 3 and over. The weight is 8 stone 5 pounds for 3-year-olds and 9 stone 3 pounds for horses aged 4 and up, with fillies and mares given a 3 pound allowance and Group 1 winners receiving a penalty of 3 pounds.

City of York Stakes (Group 3)

Run left-handed over 7 furlongs, the City of York Stakes is for 3-year-olds and over. The following weight rules are in place:

  • 3-year-olds: 8 stone 12 pounds
  • 4-year-olds and over: 9 stone 3 pounds
  • Fillies and mares get a 3 pound allowance
  • Winners of Group 1 races are given a 7 pound penalty
  • Winners of Group 2 races are given a 5 pound penalty
  • Winners of Group 3 races are given a 3 pound penalty

The race was a Listed one until 2016, at which point it was upgraded to become a Group 3 offering. That remained the case for just 3 years, having been a Group 2 race since 2019.

Melrose Stakes (Heritage-Handicap)

Run left-handed over the same 1 mile, 5 furlongs and 188 yards as the Ebor Handicap, the Melrose Stakes is a mini-version preview of the big race itself.

It is also a Class 2 heritage handicap race and is only open to 3-year-olds.

About the Yorkshire Ebor Festival

york racecourseYork is right up there with the best racecourses in Great Britain. Three of the seasons 31 Group One races are hosted at the racecourse during the Ebor festival making York the third largest racecourse in the UK for prize money issued. Overall the course attracts over 350,000 spectators each year.

The current racecourse in built on an area known as Knavesmire, Knave being Anglo-Saxon for low lying and mire being a swamp like area for grazing cattle. The land was open to common peoples to use for grazing. For this reason the course is still often referred to Kavesmire. The site was also used as the location for the city gallows and used for the hanging of Dick Turpin in the eighteenth century.

Racing in York goes back to the Romans if not even further although it is unknown exactly when York racecourse first hosted races. The official view states the course began life in the 1730’s when racing moved from a nearby flood prone site, Clifton Ings, although unofficial reports suggest racing going back over twenty years earlier. Either way York racecourse has seen racing for a long time.

York rose to fame early on becoming only the second course after Newmarket to devise a formal structured racing programme. The Great Subscription Purses started in the 1750’s, these were a series of flat 4-mile races that for a period in the early 19th century were some of the biggest in the country. This lead to the building of the first stand at York in 1754 and with regular spring and summer meetings and by the 1800’s further stands were built.

ebor festival at york racecourse

The racecourse continued to progress with the Ebor Handicap, first called the Great Ebor Handicap, launching in 1843. To begin with the race was held over the slightly longer distance of 2 miles but reduced to 1m 6f with course changes. The race is not a particular favourite of regular punters, with only four favourites winning in the last 40 years, but is loved by the occasional bettor who likes a few quid each way on an exciting race where anyone could win.

With the growing reputation of the Ebor Handicap and other top racing York developed all the way through the last century now boasting a capacity of over 60,000. The course has acted as a replacement for Royal Ascot during the redevelopment in 2005 and the St Leger in 2006.

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