The pick of the action at the Knavesmire on John Smith’s Cup Day will see the middle-distance performers line-up for the meeting’s title race which is is one of the biggest handicaps of the summer.
The John Smith’s Cup has been a fixture at York since 1960 and has been sponsored by the local brewers for the race’s entire history. In 2019 the race had it’s 60th anniversary and to celebrate it was renamed the John Smith’s Diamond Jubilee Cup.
John Smith’s Cup Course Map
John Smith’s Cup Past Winners
|Pride of America
|Sir Michael Stoute
About the John Smith’s Cup: A Longstanding Handicap Highlight
When it comes to flat action in the North, it is York racecourse which is just about the jewel in the racing crown. Regularly voted one of the top tracks in the country in terms of facilities and race day experience, the Knavesmire venue can be counted upon to provide a steady stream of high-quality action throughout the summer months.
Taking place in July each year, the two-day John Smith’s Meeting is one such event which never fails to fill the stands, with the feature contest of the John Smith’s Cup being one of the biggest contests of its type of the calendar year.
Held over a trip of just over 1m2f, this handicap affair is open to all runners aged three and older and offers a total purse of £200,000 as of 2023. Sponsored by John Smith’s ever since the inaugural edition back in 1960, the relationship between the race and the brewing company is now the longest running sponsorship arrangement in the sport.
We have plenty of recognisable names on the list of most successful trainers in this race; a list which features no fewer than three “Sirs” in Michael Stoute, Mark Prescott and Henry Cecil.
The locally based Richard Fahey has fared best of the current handlers as of 2023 alongside William Haggas, but it is the trainer commonly known simply as “The Major” who boasts the best record of all. Famous for his record in Doncaster’s St Leger, Dick Hern matched his total of six wins in the Doncaster Classic with the same number of victories in this handicap affair.
Successful aboard Town And Country (1978) and Bedtime (1983) for Hern, in addition to Jolly Good (1975) for Bruce Hobbs, Willie Carson’s three wins make him the joint most successful rider in the history of the event alongside Geoff Baxter and Tony Ives as of 2023.
Younger Legs Out In Front
As we can see from the above chart it is the younger runners who have much the best record in this race, with just a shade under three-quarters of the renewals up to and including 2023 falling to a runner aged either three or four.
Of the three year olds to have come home in front here, undoubtedly the best of them was the 1973 champ, Peleid. Not content with success in one of the North’s biggest handicaps, Bill Elsey’s charge proved himself to be way better than a handicapper when causing a 28/1 upset in the St Leger of the same year.
Amongst the four year olds to have prevailed, special mention must got to 2004 winner, Arcalis. Hailing from the yard of Howard Johnson, this horse scores top marks for versatility. Smart enough on the flat to win this off a mark of 95, he proved to be an even better horse over hurdles. So good in fact that he stormed to a six-length success in the 2005 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Those older than five years have tended to struggle here, with 2016 champ Educate taking the honour of being the oldest winner in the history of the race, having been seven years old at the time of his success.