- When: 21st to 24th August 2024
- Where: York Racecourse
- Watch: ITV
- Official Website: York Racecourse
York’s Ebor Festival is run over four days, it includes some of the biggest names in the racing circuit with the top trainers and jockeys all taking part. The Ebor, the race which lends it’s name to the meeting, takes place on the Saturday and is one if the biggest flat handicaps in the calendar, with a prize fund of £500,000 in 2023.
Other highlights include the Group 1 Juddmonte International on the first day, which can boast legends such as Frankel and Sea The Stars amongst it’s recent winners.
We’ll take a look at the big races below and highlight the best offers available for the meeting.
Existing Customer Free Bets & Money Back Offers
Note: Offers will appear here nearer the event as and when they become available.
Ebor Festival Betting Tips
Please note: The following tips are for 2023 and will be updated shortly before the event starts.
The southern tracks of Ascot, Goodwood, and Newmarket may dominate the peak summer months, but August and September see the spotlight switch to the northern racing scene. Doncaster’s excellent St Leger Meeting is still to come, but first, we have the fabulous four-day Ebor Festival at York.
This year the action on the Knavesmire runs from Wednesday 23rd of August through to the thrilling conclusion on Saturday 26th. Settle yourself in for 28 enthralling contests, including the Group 1 trio of the Nunthorpe Stakes, the Yorkshire Oaks, and the Juddmonte International, in addition to one of the world’s biggest staying handicaps in the shape of the titular Ebor Handicap. With the final fields now beginning to take shape, here we run through a selection of the highlights ahead of what promises to be another fantastic spectacle.
Sky Bet Great Volitigeur Stakes
Wednesday 23rd August, 3:00pm
Aidan O’Brien last won this in 2016 with Idaho but has since sent out the runner-up on three occasions. Irish Derby and Grand Prix de Paris runner-up Adelaide River (10/1) is the highest-rated of O'Brien's five entries in 2023, but the compilers rate Continuous (7/1) as the most likely to prevail. This son of Heart's Cry will need to improve on what he has shown to date, but he did run well behind Epsom Derby second King Of Steel last time out and may not be far away.
Charlie Appleby has won this twice in the last five years and has a decent chance of adding to that tally with Castle Way (6/1). A winner of four of his six starts to date, he scored at this level last time out, when seeing off the reopposing Tower Of London (14/1) at Ascot, and can go well for William Buick. However, the horse they all have to beat is the current St Leger favourite, Gregory (6/4). Unraced at two, this son of Golden Horn has quickly made up for lost time and arrives bidding to make it four wins from as many starts. Excellent over 1m6f at Ascot last time out, he drops down to 1m4f for this but is already a dual winner at around 1m3f.
Juddmonte International Stakes
Wednesday 23rd August, 3:35pm
When measured by the quality of performers on show, this 1m2f event tends to be the classiest event of the meeting, and things look no different in 2023. Leading the way is the remarkable Paddington (8/11). As recently as March this year, this one was winning down at handicap level. Five months on, he rocks up at York seeking an eighth win on the spin, with that hot streak including victories in the Irish 2,000 Guineas, the St James’s Palace Stakes, the Coral-Eclipse, and the Sussex Stakes. He’s the red-hot favourite to bag a fifth Group 1 but may face his most formidable challenge to date.
Chief amongst the opposition are Mostahdaf (10/3), who heads into the race on the back of a huge career best in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes, and also the 2022 Derby hero Desert Crown (5/1), who has since had his injury issues, but rates a danger to all if back to anything like his best. Of the others, the five-timer seeking Alfaila (14/1) looks a horse on the up for Owen Burrows, and The Foxes (20/1) finished a solid fifth in the Epsom Derby and a close second in a US Grade 1 last time out.
Sky Bet Lowther Stakes
Thursday 24th August, 1:50pm
A field of promising juvenile fillies kicks off the action on the Thursday card, with the betting currently dominated by the William Haggas-trained Relief Rally (6/4). Opening up with back-to-back wins at Windsor and Salisbury, this daughter of Kodiac looked a slightly unlucky loser in the Queen Mary, but bounced straight back when way too good for her 19 rivals in the Weatherbys Super Sprint.
Aidan O’Brien’s Cherry Blossom (5/2) is deemed the biggest threat to the jolly – despite still needing to be supplemented for the race – and certainly looked the part when hacking up in her maiden at the Curragh, whilst Flora Of Bermuda (4/1) wasn’t far behind Relief Rally in the Queen Mary, and could prove dangerous if the rain arrives. Karl Burke made it two wins in the space of four years when causing a 25/1 shock with Swingalong in 2022, and is responsible for a couple of interesting each-way contenders in Queen Mary third Beautiful Diamond (10/1) and the improving Dorothy Lawrence (25/1).
Darley Yorkshire Oaks
Thursday 24th August, 3:35pm
The big Group 1 for the fillies and mares takes centre stage on Day 2, as the three-year-olds tackle their elders over 1m4f. Savelthelastdance (2/1) needed every yard of the distance to reel in Bluestocking (7/2) in the Irish Oaks last time out, and the pair duly dominate the market in this rematch. It’s tough to see Bluestocking turning the tables if the ground is soft on the day, but her chance increases if the rain stays away.
John and Thady Gosden’s Free Wind (5/1) is the shortest price of the older runners, but is stepping into Group 1 company for the first time and needs to bounce back from a complete no-show at Goodwood. The heavy ground was a legitimate excuse for Free Wind that day, but a bigger threat may emerge from Al Husn (6/1), who arrives riding the crest of a wave with wins in her last three starts – including in the Group 1 Nassau Stakes. The Karl Burke duo of Listed winner Novakai (16/1), and the tenacious Poptronic (16/1), look the most interesting of those available at bigger prices.
Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup
Friday 25th August, 2:25pm
Hughie Morrison’s Quickthorn (9/2) defends his crown in this event for the Group class stayers and could scarcely arrive in better form, having run his rivals into the ground in a six-length Goodwood Cup romp. Unstoppable from the front that day, he may again prove tough to pass if allowed to make the running.
Coltrane was six lengths behind Quickthorn at Goodwood and fully 14 lengths adrift in the 2022 edition of this, but is still joint second favourite at 5/1. Courage Mon Ami (5/1) also has work to do from his Goodwood Cup effort, but had previously shown himself a stayer of the highest order when landing the Ascot Gold Cup. Making only his sixth career start here, it would be no surprise to see him bounce back for team Gosden. Stablemate, Trawlerman (14/1), will be the each-way choice of many, having won the Ebor at this meeting in 2022, but is yet to prove he stays this far.
Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Gimcrack Stakes
Friday 25th August, 3:00pm
The 2023 edition of this cracking juvenile sprint looks well up to scratch, with a host of these bringing strong form to the table. Karl Burke’s Dragon Stakes winner Kylian (2/1) heads the betting but needs to turn the tables on Michael Appleby’s Big Evs (7/2), who conquered him in the Molecomb Stakes. Aidan O’Brien’s Johannes Brahms (4/1) is rated the best of the Irish challengers but is another to have finished behind Big Evs at Goodwood.
Looking further down the list, Jasour (6/1) took a huge step forward on his first crack at this trip in the Group 2 July Stakes and can make a bold bid for Clive Cox. The Havana Grey colt Elite Status (9/1) is a strong second string to the Karl Burke bow, having won three of his four starts to date, with the only blip coming when a solid third in the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Coolmore Wootton Bassett Nunthorpe Stakes
Friday 25th August, 3:35pm
Mecca’s Angel and Battaash have both landed back-to-back editions of this Group 1 sprint in the past 10 years and Highfield Princess (7/4) may well add her name to that list. Never out of the first three in four starts this season, she finished second and third in the King’s Stand Stakes and Queen Elizabeth Jubilee Stakes, before proving much too good for her Group 2 rivals in the King George Stakes.
The John Quinn mare will need to be at the top of her game if she is to retain her crown as her King’s Stand conqueror, Bradsell (7/2), lies in wait amongst the opposition. Archie Watson’s three-year-old will be four pounds worse off under these conditions but arrives fresh following a 66-day break. Of the others, Little Big Bear (10/1) was the best in the business last season but must bounce back from a last-of-eight finish in the July Cup, whilst the improving Equality (20/1) is an interesting each-way contender, having looked progressive before stumbling at the start behind Highfield Princess in the King George Stakes.
Sky Bet City Of York Stakes
Saturday 26th August, 3:00pm
Ralph Beckett’s Kinross (7/4) proved a class above the opposition in this event 12 months ago and looks to have rock-solid claims of defending his title, having returned to winning ways in the Lennox Stakes at Glorious Goodwood. At his best on easy ground, the forecast rain looks to be in his favour. Greenham Stakes winner, Isaac Shelby (6/1), gave Kinross most to do in the Lennox Stakes and looks set for another bold showing, but does find himself a pound worse off with the jolly here.
William Haggas’s Sacred (7/1) is another to note, having skipped an easier assignment in the Hungerford Stakes for a shot at this. Arriving at the top of her game, having gone down by only a neck in the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Stakes, she’s a four-time winner at this distance but does need to step up on her sixth-placed effort in the 2022 edition. Of those available at bigger prices, Mutasaabeq (10/1) has been disappointing over a mile of late, but has won three of four over this seven-furlong trip and is already a dual Group 2 winner.
Sky Bet Ebor Handicap
Saturday 26th August, 3:35pm
The John and Thady Gosden operation plundered the £300,000 first-place prize money 12 months ago and have solid claims of doing so again with the rapidly improving four-year-old, Sweet William (5/1). A son of the great Sea The Stars, Sweet William made light work of a mark of 95 when forging clear of his rivals over this trip at Goodwood, and gets in under just a four-pound penalty. That makes him four pounds well-in on ratings, and there may yet be more to come.
Four of the past nine editions of this have fallen to a raider from the Emerald Isle, and we look to have a strong Irish challenge once again in 2023. The Willie Mullins-trained Absurde (8/1) chased home Melbourne Cup-bound stablemate Vauban in the Copper Horse Stakes and is the shortest-priced of the Irish runners, but don’t rule out a big run from Joseph O’Brien’s Dawn Rising (16/1), who is a winner over 1m4f, but also has stamina to burn, having scored over 2m5½f in the Queen Alexandra Stakes. Safecracker (20/1) is another eye-catching contender stepping up to this trip for the first time for Johnny Murtagh, who landed the 2014 and 2021 editions of this.
About The Ebor Festival
The Ebor Festival takes place at York Racecourse and has been running since 1843, making it one of the oldest meetings in the world. Due to York being located in the north of England, it’s easily the most prestigious meeting in the region.
The racecourse itself is located on an area of ground that was known as Knavesmire in Anglo Saxon times. The meaning of Knavesmire comes from ‘knave’, which is a man of low standing, and ‘mire’, meaning a pasture for cattle. The course to this day is widely referred to as ‘The Knavesmire Course’ and was actually the scene for the hanging of the highwayman Dick Turpin in 1739.
Situated next to the Terry’s of York chocolate factory, the course sees more than three hundred and fifty thousand people come through its doors on a yearly basis. They are there to watch the 19 Group races that York offers up annually, as well as numerous other events that lack the prestige but maintain the excitement of those.
Racing at York is the responsibility of the York Racecourse Committee, which is part of the York Racecourse Knavesmire LLP. The biggest meeting of the year for the course is unquestionable the Ebor Festival, which was introduced in 1843, the year after the Committee had been formed in order to try and stop a downturn in the quality of racing in the city. Within three years a race called the Gimcrack Stakes had been introduced and it proved to be so popular that it has since gone on to be seen as one of the most prestigious races in the calendar.
The Festival has grown in popularity year-on-year and is now one of the most respected meetings in British racing. Indeed, the Juddmonte International was once voted to be the best race in the country by the International Federation Of Horseracing Authorities. The rest of the week is no exception when it comes to the quality races, meaning that York continues to attract more and more visitors and the jockeys and trainers with every passing meeting. It takes place every August, lasting for four exciting days.
The First Horse Racing In York
Telling you about Dick Turpin’s hanging and the origin of the name of the ground that the course was built on is one thing, but what else can we tell you about the course’s illustrious past and the city’s links to racing? For starters, it’s believed that racing on the site dates back to the Roman era, with some historians believing that horse racing could have taken place at Knavesmire as long ago as neolithic times.
The city of York as a whole has links to racing that date back to the 1500s. Documents show that the city corporation supported the racing of horses from 1530, with a race for a golden bell having taken place in the Forest of Galtres close to the city in 1590. One of the most famous incidents of a race occurring in York happened in 1607 when the River Ouse froze over and horses were raced from the Micklegate Tower to the Skeldergate Postern.
The Shift to the Knavesmire
Historians aren’t entirely in agreement on when the formalisation of racing on the current site first happened. The course itself claims that it was in 1730 after flooding had stopped racing from taking place at nearby Clifton Ings, not for the first time. Some historians believe that the King’s Guineas was raced on Knavesmire in 1731 and that was the inaugural running of an official race on the site. The dispute over this matter comes about because of uncertainty of what was happening at Clifton Ings between 1709 and 1731.
Some historians concur with the official view offered by York Racecourse, whilst others believe that there’s evidence to suggest that racing took place at both Clifton Ings and Knavesmire as early as 1709. In ‘History’ by Saunders & Co. it is asserted that racing will have taken place at both locations and that in 1731 everything moved to the one venue. The Knavesmire site was chosen as that venue because it didn’t suffer from as many flooding problems as Clifton Ings. The reliability of the ground meant that racing could become a more serious sport in the city, with the formation of the Great Subscription Purses in 1751 being the first time a course had offered a structured race programme since Newmarket did so.
The Development Of York Racecourse
Whilst the Knavesmire wasn’t quite as susceptible to flooding as Clifton Ings, it would be a lie to suggest that flooding never occurred at all. In fact, in 1776 the rain was that heavy that horses were running part of the course with water up to their knees. Even so, the sport proved popular enough for people to keep turning up to watch the racing and by the start of the nineteenth century there were two main meetings in the city and two smaller ones to supplement them.
In 1754 the Marquess of Rockingham suggested that a grandstand be built to accommodate all of the people who were arriving in the city to watch the racing. It was done at a cost of more than £1,000, which was a huge amount of money at the time. The architect was John Carr and when new stands were built in 1890 a decision was made to incorporate Carr’s original design. Over the centuries that followed more and more stands were built at the course, including the Melrose Stand in 1989 and then the Knavesmire Stand. Even after the turn of the millennium new areas have been built, with the Ebor Stand seeing the capacity rise to over sixty thousand.
Ebor Festival Format
The meeting starts on a Wednesday and runs through to the Saturday of that week.
The first day is widely known as the Juddmonte International Day, which is in honour of the feature race of the day, the Group 1 flat race called the International Stakes. The prize fund includes a whopping purse of £1,000,000, which is the highest across all four days. On top of that, the inclusion of the Great Voltigeur Stakes with its £250,000 purse and the Acomb Stakes and its £165,000 purse make this a lucrative opening day for punters, bookmakers and trainers alike.
The Thursday is known as Ladies Day at the Ebor Festival and includes the Group 1 flat race the Yorkshire Oaks. The Oaks runners will compete for a purse worth £500,000 and is raced across one mile, four furlongs. It is a race for horses aged three-year-old and upwards. On top of that there’s also the Group 2 Lowther Stakes, which has a purse of £267,500.
Friday is Nunthorpe Day at the Ebor Festival, with the feature race coming in the form of the Nunthorpe Stakes that lends the day its name. This race offers up a purse of £533,750 for the entrants and is run at the shortest distance of the meeting, measuring just five furlongs in length. Accompanying this are the Lonsdale Cup with a prize fund of £250,000 and the Gimcrack Stakes offering up a prize fund of £267,500.
The meeting comes to a close on the Saturday, which is known as Ebor Day. This is one of the most popular days for racegoers, often seeing capacity crowds throughout. The highlights come in the form of the Ebor Handicap worth a staggering £500,000 with £300,000 to the winner. There’s also the City Of York Stakes with a purse of £500,000. All of the purses mentioned were correct for the 2023 meeting, though are obviously subject to change.
The Ebor festival is one of the oldest race meetings in the UK, dating back to 1843. It has also pulled in some of the biggest crowds in racing throughout this time.
Jockeys such as Frankie Dettori, AP McCoy and Jamie Spencer have all been successful at previous meetings, whilst trainers such as Willie Mullins, Sir Henry Cecil, Mick Channon and Paul Nicholls have had numerous winners at the Ebor Festival. There’s far more to tell you about than just that, of course, with the following being a list of some of the best facts we’ve been able to uncover:
- One of the worst tragedies to hit the North of England, the Peterloo Massacre, actually occurred because the local military commander was absent from his troops as he was watching two of his horses running in races at York and his deputy wasn’t experienced enough to control the crowd and his own men
- Thankfully he wasn’t in charge in 1982 when Pope John Paul II visited York Racecourse, attracting crowds of nearly two hundred thousand people
- Two years after the Pope visited there was another reason for crowds to flock to the course – Echo & The Bunnymen played the first concert that the Racecourse had ever held
- In 2014 The Tour de France started from York Racecourse
- Ascot Racecourse was closed for redevelopment in 2015, so York Racecourse hosted the meeting known as Royal Ascot
- In 2008 the rain was that bad that the course was waterlogged. For the first time in the Festival’s history the entire event had to be cancelled as it was unsuitable for racing
- The venue hosted the St. Leger the following year for similar reasons
- York Raceday Radio is a radio station that belongs to the racecourse and be heard for up to ten miles from the site
- In 1997, 2003 and 2017 the site was named as the Racecourse of the Year
- Around one hundred and fifty thousand people turned up to watch Voltiguer take on the Flying Dutchman in 1851, setting the record for attendance at the course for horse racing
- As well as the Ebor Festival, the course also hosts an August Meeting early in the month, Meetings in June and July and a Festival in the Spring
- The Juddmonte International has been ranked as the number one thoroughbred race in Great Britain. As a result, when Australia, Frankel and Declaration of War battled in the race they were taking part in the strongest horse race in the world at that moment
- Ahead of the Summer Olympics in London, twenty thousand people watched former Olympian Harvey Smith carry the Olympic Flame along York Racecourse’s home straight
- The Princess Royal rode a winner in the Queen Mother’s Cup at the course in 1988