The Ebor Festival reaches its conclusion on the Saturday, with the headline act on the seven-race card being the contest which gives the meeting its name. A marathon handicap affair, this truly historic event has been with us since back in 1843 and remains one of the most eagerly anticipated races at the track each year.
In 2019, prize money for the Ebor reached £1 million, joining the Grand National as Britain’s most valuable handicap horse race. That year, the York winner Mustajeer actually took home £100,000 more for his win than Aintree hero Tiger Roll. In 2020, due to the financial climate, prize money will be reduced to £250,000 for this contest.
Next Race: TBD
The next renewal of this race has not been scheduled yet. We will update this once the schedule has been released for next season. The race info, trends and tips shown below will be updated for the next renewal once the final declarations have been made.
Last Run: 22nd August 2020
- Winner: Fujaira Prince
- SP: 11/2
- Trainer: Roger Varian
- Jockey: Andrea Atzeni
1m6f is the trip for this Class 2 handicap which serves as the titular contest of York’s summer festival, and offers a total of £250,000 in prize money. The ground at the track is currently described as good after a sunny and windy day on Thursday helped dry things out a little.
|Going||Distance||Grade||Prize Money||Runners||EW Terms|
|Good||1m6f||Class 2||£250,000||22 Runners||1/4 1-4|
Ebor Handicap Betting Tips
Note: The following tips are from 2020. Tips for the next renewal will be added once the final declarations have been made.
Open to all runners aged four and older, those with a decent level of experience under their belts have fared best in recent times, with nine of the past 10 editions falling to a runner aged five or older.
Being held on the round course, you might expect that the inside runners would hold an edge in this race, but in fact the opposite has been true, with seven of the past 10 renewals being claimed by a runner emerging from stall 15 or higher. The fact that the field travels for around 5f before taking the first left-handed turn no doubt has something to do with the failure of the inside runners to dominate.
Given just how competitive this race is, it probably won’t come as the biggest surprise to learn that it hasn’t been overly kind to supporters of the market leader. The past 10 years have in fact seen a grand total of zero winning favourites but can the jolly break that poor streak this year?
|Fujaira Prince||7/1||9st 8lbs||Roger Varian||Andrea Atzeni|
|True Self||10/1||9st 8lbs||Willie Mullins||Jason Watson|
|Monica Sheriff||11/1||9st 2lbs||William Haggas||Daniel Tudhope|
Fujaira Prince – 7/1
It’s difficult to determine which runner will be bidding to defy the recent favourite stat in what looks a wide-open renewal, but the one currently heading the betting in most lists is the Roger Varian-trained six year old, Fujaira Prince.
Beautifully bred, being by Pivotal and out of a Dalakhani mare, this good-looking grey is clearly talented, but has not been without his problems – missing the whole of last season due to injury. The one positive regarding those issues is that he is very lightly raced for one his age and will be making only his eighth career start here.
Whilst getting him to the track may have been an issue, he has proven to be ultra-reliable when he has made it to post, winning four of those previous seven starts, and not once finishing outside of the first three. Most encouragingly regarding this test though, is the fact that his career best performance came last time out at Ascot in June, in what was his first crack at this 1m6f trip.
Looking a class above his rivals that day, he fairly powered up the straight to score by an eased down 3¾l in the style of a very smart performer. The mount of Andrea Atzeni has understandably been given a 9lb hike for that, but considering it was his first run in 362 days he can be expected to strip fitter here and may well cope.
True Self – 10/1
Given the large prize money on offer, and the stamina demands of the race, it isn’t too surprising that many of the top jumping yards find it hard to resist a shot at this prize. It is a shot which has been taken with some success too, with both Gordon Elliott and Tony Martin having sent out the winner in the past decade.
Leading the charge for the jumping yards this year is multiple Irish National Hunt Champion trainer, Willie Mullins, who himself has history in the race having saddled Sesenta to glory in 2009. The one bidding to follow in Sesenta’s hoofprints this time around is the seven year old filly, True Self.
A winner of five races on the flat, and two over hurdles, this daughter of Oscar has been an admirable servant to the yard, and will be having her second crack at this race having finished a three length sixth 12 months ago. That was a fine effort considering the good to firm conditions were all against her that day, and with the ground looking far more suitable this time around, there is every reason for connections to hope that she may well finish even closer. Further encouragement can be taken from the fact that she is 2lbs lower in the handicap this time around, and also has the possibility of improvement courtesy of a first-time tongue tie.
Monica Sheriff – 11/1
He may be based in Newmarket, but William Haggas is a man who regularly targets the biggest meeting in the north, and has once again featured amongst the winners this year. One race still to elude him though is this contest. Haggas will be hoping to break his Ebor duck in 2020, and he might just do it too, with Pablo Escobarr and Monica Sheriff representing a potent two-pronged attack.
Pablo Escobarr won nicely at Group 3 level last time out at Goodwood, but is yet to race at beyond 1m4f, and so it is Monica Sheriff who boasts the more solid credentials from a stamina perspective. A slightly underwhelming ninth of 14 on debut at Salisbury last season, she promptly left that form behind, to the extent that she is unbeaten in five starts since.
Highlights to date include giving 2lbs and a three-length beating to the now 91-rated Cape Cavalli over 1m4f, a 20-length rout over this trip at Goodwood, and a cosy success in a Group 3 over in France – again over this 1m6f trip. She’s up to a mark of 102 here, but may well have more to come, and the only real negative against her chance is a lack of experience in the hurly burly of a big field handicap. If settling and getting into a rhythm she can go close under Danny Tudhope.
Ebor Handicap Winners
|2020||Fujaira Prince||11/2||Roger Varian||Andrea Atzeni|
|2019||Mustajeer||16/1||Ger Lyons||Colin Keane|
|2018||Muntahaa||11/1||John Gosden||Jim Crowley|
|2017||Nakeeta||12/1||Iain Jardine||Callum Rodriguez|
|2016||Heartbreak City||15/2||Tony Martin||Adam McNamara|
|2015||Litigant||33/1||Joseph Tuite||Oisin Murphy|
|2014||Mutual Regard||20/1||Johnny Murtagh||Louis Steward|
|2013||Tiger Cliff||5/1||Lady Cecil||Tom Queally|
|2012||Willing Foe||12/1||Saeed bin Suroor||Frankie Dettori|
|2011||Moyenne Corniche||25/1||Brian Ellison||Dale Swift|
The showpiece event on the final day of the Ebor Festival is the race that inspires the name of the four-day meeting itself. The Ebor Handicap ensures a climactic finale at York with there never a dull moment in the keenly contested event. Typically a large field of around 20 runners, they are put to the test over a distance of one mile and six furlongs, two furlongs shorter than its original distance.
Created by former Clerk of the Course, John Orton, in 1943, the race acquires its name from the Roman name for York, Eboracum. Initially it began as the Great Ebor Handicap but later the “great” was dropped, not that this thrilling handicap isn’t great though. It holds the position as being the richest race of its kind on the continent with a prize fund that hit the £500,000 mark in 2018, doubling to £1 million in 2019.
BIG PROFITS AVAILABLE
Any punters trading at a loss during the Ebor Festival are presented with a real opportunity to turn around their fortunes in this race. Although picking a winner is a tricky task, doing so regularly provides some generous returns. The average starting price of winners since the turn of the century is 20/1, making this a big occasion for the betters and bookies alike. Even backing a horse that sneaks into the places can reap some decent rewards given the big odds readily available. Between 2015 and 2018, four horses priced 33/1 or higher secured a placed finish.
Focussing back on the winners, there’s been no shortage of real outsiders triumphing in the Ebor, recent examples are shown in the table below.
LONGEST PRICED EBOR WINNERS: 1978 – 2019
|2006||Mudawin||5||8-4||J Chapple-Hyam||John Egan||100/1|
|2015||Litigant||7||9-1||Joseph Tuite||Oisin Murphy||33/1|
|1997||Far Ahead||5||8-0||Les Eyre||Tyrone Wiliams||33/1|
|2011||Moyenne Corniche||6||8-10||Brian Ellison||Dale Swift||25/1|
|2009||Sesenta||5||8-8||Willie Mullins||Gary Carroll||25/1|
|2008*||All The Good||5||9-0||Saeed bin Suroor||Dane O’Neill||25/1|
|2002||Hugs Dancer||5||8-5||James Given||Dean McKeown||25/1|
|2014||Mutual Regard||5||9-4||Johnny Murtagh||Louis Steward||20/1|
|2003||Sainte Alebe||4||8-8||David Elsworth||Richard Quinn||20/1|
|1985||Western Dancer||4||8-6||Con Horgan||Paul Cook||20/1|
|1978||Totowah||4||8-1||Michael Jarvis||Paul Cook||20/1|
*The 2008 Ebor was ran at Newbury due to a waterlogged track.
Mudawin’s victory remains the most surprising of the lot. The five-year-old had no market support following a terrible showing at Ascot a month prior where he finished dead last in two-mile handicap. A reduced trip brought the best out of the bay gelding though who ran patiently before surging forward into the lead. Jockey John Egan appeared to launch the attack a touch too soon as Glistening and Young Mick closed in but Mudawin just held on to win by a matter of inches.
FAVOURITES FINDING LIFE TOUGH
In a race featuring so many contenders, favourites will always struggle to win this race on a regular basis. Even bearing this in mind however, the shortest priced horses have underperformed in this race, handing punters a £15.50 loss on a £1 level stakes plan this side of the new millennium.
Purple Moon (2007) stands as the only winning favourite since 1998 and only two others have really come close in more recent renewals. A head’s length denied both Flymetothestars and Changingoftheguard in 2017 and 2009 respectively.
WATCH THE DRAW
There are many trends present for the Ebor Handicap but one of the most intriguing is the apparent amount of draw bias. Horses starting from double-digit stalls have fared far better than those closer to the rail. Out of the last 19 Ebor Handicaps ran at York, just two winners began from a gate between one and nine inclusive.
The extent of the bias is quite overwhelming and it’s strong enough to make you think it’s more than just a statistical anomaly. Given that there’s been a fairly even split between single and double digit gates with 19-22 declared runners the norm, this is a trend definitely worth paying attention to.