The four-day Ebor Meeting is the highlight of York Racecourse’s calendar and one of the best meetings of the whole of the UK’s flat racing season. The big races of the week include Wednesday’s Juddmonte International Stakes, whilst it’s the turn of the high-class fillies and mares on Thursday in the Yorkshire Oaks. It’s then the turn of the fastest sprinters around in the Nunthorpe Stakes on Friday, whilst Saturday’s Ebor is the richest handicap in Britain.
Ebor Meeting Day One Highlights
Acomb Stakes (14.25)
The Acomb Stakes is a Group 3 race for two-year-olds run over seven furlongs. First run in 1986, it has been won by some high-class performers including Bijou d’Inde, Revoque, Saratoga Springs, and King’s Best, with the latter winning the 2,000 Guineas as a three-year-old. Watan has been installed as the ante-post favourite for the 2018 Acomb Stakes and it will be interesting to see if Richard Hannon’s son of the stable’s former Group 1 winner Toronado can maintain the only unbeaten record in the field. He could face stern opposition from the likes of Aidan O’Brien’s Broome, as well as Hugo Palmer’s James Street. The latter is set to be ridden by James Doyle, who has ridden two of the last six winners.
Great Voltigeur Stakes (15.00)
The Great Voltigeur Stakes is wildly-regarded as a St Leger Trial, but this Group 2 Race carries a first prize of over £96,000 and is very much a prestigious race in its own right. It’s also got a role of honour to match, with previous winners including Bustino, Alleged, Rainbow Quest, Reference Point, Belmez, Pentire, Fantastic Light, Youmzain, Lucarno, Telescope, Postponed, and Cracksman.
John Gosden has won three of the last 10 renewals and looks likely to be represented by Sevenna Star, whilst Aidan O’Brien could have four runners in Kew Gardens, Nelson, Zabriskie, and The Pentagon.
Meanwhile, the top-rated runner is Cross Counter who is bidding for a hat-trick after winning at Royal Ascot and Glorious Goodwood. However, the most popular winner would probably be the locally-trained Wells Farhh Go who bounced back to winning form last time and won twice at York as a two-year-old.
Juddmonte International Stakes (15.35)
The Juddmonte International was first established in 1972 and this Group 1 race over 1 mile 2 furlongs and 56 yards has since been a wonderful battleground for clashes between the classic generation and the best of the older horses. The list of past winners will have most racing fans salivating, with winners including Troy, Shardari, Triptych, Rodrigo de Triano, Ezzoud, Halling, Singspiel, Giant’s Causeway, Sakhee, Authorized, Sea The Stars, Frankel, and Postponed.
Whether the 2018 International Stakes can produce a winner as good as those remains to be seen, but it’s a fascinating clash between older horses like Poet’s Word and Thunder Snow and three-year-olds like 2,000 Guineas winner Saxon Warrior, Eclipse winner Roaring Lion, and Irish Derby winner Latrobe. Poet’s Word has a few pounds in hand of his rivals and, though he earned that figure over further when winning the King George, the long straight at York should suit.
Ebor Meeting Day 2 Highlights
Lowther Stakes (13.55)
The Lowther Stakes is a Group 2 Race run over six-furlongs that is restricted to two-year-old fillies. First run in 1946, previous editions have been won by popular fillies like Dead Certain, Niche, Cape Verdi, Bint Allayl, Russian Rhythm, and Tiggy Wiggy. Aidan O’Brien has yet to train a winner of the race but could be well represented by the likes of Fairyland and So Perfect. Last year’s winning trainer Mark Johnston also looks to have a good chance with Main Edition. Meanwhile, a trainer to watch could be Mick Channon, as he’s won the race three-times this century and could call upon the unbeaten Swinging Jean.
Yorkshire Oaks (15.35)
The Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks is the big race on the second day of York’s Ebor Meeting and it is run over 1 mile 3 furlongs and 188 yards. It is open to fillies and mares aged three and older and has been won by some of the greatest females of all time, including Diminuendo, User Friendly, Only Royale, Pure Grain, Ramruna, Islington, Midday, The Fugue, and last year’s brilliant winner Enable. Aidan O’Brien has trained four of the last 12 winners, whilst John Gosden has trained three of the last nine winners. Gosden could be represented by Coronet, whilst O’Brien could be represented by the 2018 Oaks winner Forever Together.
However, the latter need to overturn the form of her Irish 2018 Oaks run behind the likely favourite Sea Of Class.
Ebor Meeting Day Three Highlights
Lonsdale Cup Stakes (14.25)
The Lonsdale Cup is a Group 2 Race run over 2 miles and 56 yards that is open to horses aged three and older. Previous popular winners have included Further Flight, Celeric, Royal Rebel, Persian Punch, Millenary, and Opinion Poll, though this year’s favourite Stradivarius could become the most famous winner of the race having won the last two Goodwood Cups and this year’s Ascot Gold Cup. It will be a big disappointment if John Gosden’s four-year-old can’t maintain his winning run in front of the appreciative York crowd, though the likes of 2016 Great Voltigeur winner Idaho and the 2015 Lonsdale Cup winner Max Dynamite may give him something to think about on their best form.
Gimcrack Stakes (15.00)
The Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes is open to three-year-old colts and geldings and is run over six-furlongs. The race has produced some notable subsequent Group 1 winners such as Turtle Island, Royal Applause, Rock of Gibraltar, and Muhaarar. This year may not have a colt of that level in the field but watch out for a gamble on any of the Northern-trained horses, as such horses have won nine of the last 13 renewals.
Nunthorpe Stakes (15.35)
The Nunthorpe Stakes can lay claim to being one of the fastest Group 1 races of the season and it takes place over the minimum five furlongs of the Knavesmire. It has also produced some of the most memorable races at York over the years with wins for star sprinters such as Sharpo, Ajdal, Cadeaux Genereaux, Dayjur, Lochsong, Pivotal, Mozart, Oasis Dream, Kyllachy, Sole Power, and Mecca’s Angel. Last year’s renewal was a thriller too, as Frankie Dettori celebrated what he thought was a win aboard Lady Aurelia, only to find out that Marsha had nutted him on the line.
However, this year’s ante-post market is dominated by a horse that boiled-over in last year’s preliminaries in Battaash, but he’s since shown just how good he is. He was beaten by Blue Angel at Royal Ascot, but York’s flat track should be perfect for Battaash if connections can keep him calm before he goes in the stalls.
Ebor Meeting Saturday Highlights
A first prize of over £300,00 for winning a handicap means that trainer’s will have been targeting the 2018 Ebor Handicap for a long time. It is run over 1 mile 5 furlongs and 188 yards and was first run in 1843. Notable winners have included Sea Pigeon, Further Flight, Quick Ransom, Hasten To Add, Vicious Circle, and Purple Moon. A big statistic that could be worth noting is that no horse since Sea Pigeon in 1979 has carried more than 9-4 to victory. The favourite Stratum would carry no more than that if any of the three at the top of the weights stand their ground.