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York Ebor Festival Preview

Morning all,

The final declarations for day one of the Ebor Festival came out yesterday. Four day’s fiendishly competitive racing to look forward to. What’s not to like? I’m excited and hopefully you are to.

The Ebor Festival is last of the big summer Festival’s and without doubt the best in terms of quality after Royal Ascot. I’m biased of course. Given it’s one of my local tracks and I plan to be there on Friday.

With the heatwave fading away on Monday so comes the rain. How much though? Hit-and-miss thunderstorms are hard to predict and that’s what being forecast for Monday & Tuesday. The forecasters can’t agree either. One I use is predicting as much as much 13mm on Monday and Tuesday. Others much less.

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The going at York was being described on Monday morning as good to firm, good in places. Depending on which forecast you go with, and I’m inclined to go with those that expect York to miss most of the heavy stuff there shouldn’t be too much change in the present going on Wednesday. Although farmers and gardeners around the country are in desperate need of the wet stuff, I’m hoping the first couple of days are run on the forecast going.

Inside today’s main piece you can read my thoughts on the festival and how I will be approaching it. Plus, there’s a few, hopefully profitable stats.

York Ebor Festival Preview

All three of York’s Group 1 races take place over this week. The Juddmonte International Stakes is on tomorrow, the Yorkshire Oaks is Thursday and the Nunthorpe Stakes taking place on Friday. Add in some of the most competitive handicap of the season including Europe’s richest Handicap the Ebor Handicap on Saturday and you can see why I get excited about these four days.

I have already started looking at the first two days races. However, given an uncertain weather forecast it maybe worth waiting until as close as to the day of racing to ascertain the going before firming up your final selections.

On Course Profits free Horse Racing magazine

York is a wide, flat track with a lovely long straight so it should be easy to find winners.  Yet it’s got a reputation for being a very tough one.

There’s an excellent article by Keith Melrose in Saturday’s Racing Post on the course.  Basically, Keith’s view is that the track isn’t as fair as most people think. Indeed, he thinks it’s as “quirky” as Ripon. But because it’s one of our premier racecourses few will use the word “quirky”.  

Straight course

We know that York favours horses that are ridden prominently, especially over 5f and 6f, and those drawn low also have an advantage. Interestingly Keith mentions the important fact that within 40 yards of the winning post runners are turning away from the stands. In the sprint races you will often notice horses start to drift away from the stands side close to the finish line. Whilst those drawn low tend to run straighter which can make all the difference in a close finish.

Pace remains important at York and horses that can hold a position are favoured. However, occasionally there's too much early speed, which leads to a pace collapse, and something comes through from the rear to win. That scenario occurred at the Dante Meeting when Illusionist came off an unstainable pace, despite missing the start, to win over 5f.

Round course

On the round course there is also bias towards those drawn low. The final bend is much tighter than we realise which means those ridden wider are disadvantaged.  Of course, that can change on softer ground when the runners come more towards the stands side.

In big field handicaps on the round course, they can get racing a fair way out and the long straight can catch out those who go for home to soon.  More often than not if that occurs those ridden more patiently come to the fore.

The bias against those drawn out widest of all is neatly exemplified by looking at the draws starts by quarter segments.

Handicap races 1 mile + (since 2017)

1st Quarter – 14 winners from 143 runners +31 37 placed A/E 1.15

37% of the total winners of handicap races on the round courses were drawn in the first quarter of their races.  Compare those figures with drawn in the final quarter.

4th Quarter – 1 winner from 137 runners -125 16 placed A/E 0.1

Only Muntahaa in the 2018 Ebor Handicap, who got a great ride from jockey Jim Crowley, has managed to defy the final quarter coffin.

The trainers

Since 2017 43% of races at the Ebor Festival have been won by the following five trainers:

John Gosden – 16 winners from 49 runners 33% +11.35 24 placed 49% A/E 1.36

Charlie Appleby – 8 winners from 26 runners 31% +18.51 12 placed 46% A/E 1.58

Michael Dods – 6 winners from 25 runners 24% +15.75 15 placed 60% A/E 2.62

Andrew Balding – 9 winners from 62 runners 15% +26 21 placed 33% A/E 1.25

Tim Easterby – 6 winners from 57 runners 11% +87 12 placed 21% A/E 1.57

Verdict: Both the Charlie Appleby and Gosden yards will no doubt have their share of winners again this year. Both trainers have great win strike rates, and so is their A/E.

Local trainer Tim Easterby will plenty of runners this week. Three of his six winners came last year and if you had backed them all you would have made £46 profit to a £1 level stake. He was 0-11 in 2020 but he can normally be relied upon to have won winner over the four days.

Michael Dods record is exceptional. He’s had at least one winner each year since 2017 although he was 0-7 in 2018. Even that season four of his runners finished in the places.  A 60% win & place strike rate is fantastic for a quality meeting and if you had backed all his runners each way the profit would have been +51.20.

I will keep an eye on all those trainers’ runners, but Michael Dods runners merit special attention.

Advice: Back all Michael Dods runners each way.

Previous runs at York

Whilst I wouldn’t get to hung up on previous winning form at York it’s certainly not a negative. However, I would be more interested in those runners who have had at least one previous run at the track.

Since 2017 – 73 winners from 923 runners -396.12 A/E 0.77 were having their first run at York. Meanwhile those with 1 to 3 previous runs at York produced 54 winners from 579 runners +65.43 A/E 1.03.

Looking at previous course winners 28 winners from 281 runners 10% 72 placed 26% A/E 0.97 had at least one previous win at York before arriving at the meeting.

Negatives: Goodwood and Ascot last time out

Of the 1670 runners who ran at the Ebor Festival since 2017 37% of them ran at Ascot or Goodwood last time out. Not surprisingly they produced the most winners 49 to be precise. However, if you dig deeper, you will find all is not what it seems.

Goodwood – 29 winners from 382 winners -188.38 96 placed 25% A/E 0.67.

Ascot – 20 winners from 230 runners 9% -100.33 58 placed 25% A/E 0.76.

Whilst runners from both tracks will win here over the next few days they are over bet, especially those coming from Goodwood as the A/E shows. One for the layers me thinks.

Simple but profitable…

I will end with a simple but profitable angle. Now it’s not for everyone. However, it has proved profitable to back all qualifiers over the last five Ebor Festivals.


Places at the track: 1 to 2

Last Time Out Placing: First or Second.

Backing all 145 qualifiers would have netted 26 winners and a profit of £99.85 to a £1 level stake and the actual-versus-expected is a healthy 1.42. The suggestion would be to back all qualifiers to small stakes via BFSP as the profit is +143.21 and it’s something I will have a go at.

13 winners from 43 bets 30% +41.02 25 placed 58% were either ranked first or second on my ratings in Horseracebase. For anyone interested I will put up the qualifiers each day to see how they get on this year.

Will the main angle prove profitable this week? We shall find out by close of racing on Saturday.

Ebor Festival: Jackpot & Placepot Hunting

The Jackpot wasn’t won on the first three days of last year’s meeting.  However, it was landed on the Saturday paying £25,000 to a £1 stake.

There was a whopping placepot dividend on day one last year as there had been in 2020 (£3,696.30 to a £1 stake).

Wednesday: £4,834.70 for a £1 stake.

But it proved progressively easier to land over the next three days.

Thursday: £317.10 for a £1 stake

Friday: £274.80 for a £1 stake.

Saturday: £358.60 to a £1 stake

If you’re thinking of going for the placepot this year my suggestion would be to have a go on Wednesday.

There you go a few, hopefully profitable stats. I could have added a few more niche ones, but I have my doubts about their utility.

My Ebor Festival Golden Rules:

Here are my golden rules for the next four days which I will of course endeavour to follow.

  1. Course form – I will be looking for horses that have run at the track and even better if they have placed at York before.
  • I will be avoiding those drawn out widest in the big field handicaps on the round course.
  • Keep onside those drawn low in the sprint handicaps but always be aware where the pace is on the straight course.
Tuesday Racing

On the eve of the Ebor Festival its a fairly low-key Tuesday.


The ground has eased to good at Hamilton and there could be more rain before racing.  Handicap debutant Glam De Vega should be suited by the step up to 1m 1f in the Hamilton feature (4:45). Given he’s by Lope De Vega and his dam won soft ground any further ease in the going shouldn’t inconvenience the colt either. A best priced 13/8 isn’t very exciting but he looks the best bet on the card.

A length separated Soul Seeker and Melody King when they were first and third at Pontefract 13-days ago. Melody King gets 3lb from the winner and is entitled to get closer in the (3:45). A previous C&D winner and successful on soft ground at Sandown last September, off 2lb higher.  Provided he settles better than last time he’s back down to a winnable mark.

The 3-year-old Cotai West made it two wins from her last three starts when successful at Newmarket last month. Up 1lb for that win but Oisin McSweeney takes off a handy 5lb. The filly is less exposed than most and could be capable of better. Soft ground would be a bit of an unknown for her which just swings it in favour of Melody King.

3:45 – Melody King – 7/2 @ Bet365.

Good luck with your Tuesday bets.


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