The History of the York Ebor Festival

The York Ebor Festival is an historic four day racing festival and one of the major race meetings of the flat season. Here, The Wine Tipster gives you a potted history of the racing at York to get you clued up and ready for the 2020 Ebor Festival.

Racing in York

The York Ebor Festival was first established in 1843 and takes its name from the shortened form of Eboracum, the Roman name for York. York racecourse is one of the premier tracks in Europe with the city’s history dating back to Roman and Viking times. Racing is known to have officially taken place in York in 1607 when horses would race on the frozen river Ouse between Micklegate Tower and Skeldergate Postern. However, it was not until 1709 that the first detailed records of a race meeting were recorded at Clifton Ings. Despite building work to this area to prevent flooding, the ground proved too soft and in 1730 racing transferred to Knavesmire where today’s course remains. Since then, horse racing at York Racecourse has changed considerably, and the York Ebor Festival is the highlight of the course’s year.

Yorkshire as a county is renowned for its racing prowess, with nine fabulous racing events across the North East. Go Racing Yorkshire provides all the updates and marketing coverage of the nine racecourses to promote racing throughout the county.

Did you know? York has boasted many distinguished visitors, including Pope John Paul II, who said open-air mass for more than 200,000 pilgrims during his visit to Britain on May 31, 1982. York also hosted a visit from both the Olympic Torch and Paralympic Lantern. Former Olympian Harvey Smith carried the torch down the home straight in partnership with Paddy in front of over 20,000 spectators.

Below are lists of the races featured on each day, and details of the history behind them:

Wednesday 19th August 2020 – Juddmonte International Day

1:45PM THE SYMPHONY GROUP HANDICAP STAKES (CLASS 2)  (CL 2) 5f 89y 3YO+ £30,000.00 Rating 0-105

2:15PM THE TATTERSALLS ACOMB STAKES (CLASS 1) (Group 3)  (CL 1) 7f 2YO £40,000.00 – The event is named after Acomb, an area of York located to the north-west of the racecourse. It was given Listed status in 1998, and promoted to Group 3 level in 2006. It is currently held on the opening day of the four-day Ebor Festival meeting.

2:45PM THE GREAT VOLTIGEUR STAKES (CLASS 1) (Group 2)  (CL 1) 1m 3f 188y 3YO £75,000.00 – The event is named after Voltigeur, the Yorkshire-trained winner of the Derby and St Leger in 1850. It was established in 1950, and it was initially called the Voltigeur Stakes. The word “Great” was added to the title in 1957.

3:15PM THE JUDDMONTE INTERNATIONAL STAKES (CLASS 1) (British Champions Series) (Group 1)  (CL 1) 1m 2f 56y 3YO+ £275,000.00 – First run in 1972, the Juddmonte International Stakes is York’s richest race and the highlight of the opening day of the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival. It was independently ranked as the best race in Great Britain by the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities last season.

3:45PM THE HANDICAP STAKES (CLASS 2)  (CL 2) 2m 56y 3YO+ £30,000.00 Rating 0-105

4:20PM THE SPRINT FILLIES’ HANDICAP STAKES (CLASS 2)  (CL 2) 5f 3YO+ £30,000.00 Rating 81-100

4:55PM THE NURSERY HANDICAP STAKES (CLASS 2)  (CL 2) 6f 2YO £30,000.00

Thursday 20th August 2020 – Ladies’ Day

1:45PM LOWTHER STAKES (CLASS 1) (Group 2) (CL 1) 6f 2YO £75,000.00 – The present version is named in memory of Hugh Lowther (1857–1944), the 5th Earl of Lonsdale. It was established in 1946, and the inaugural running was won by Southernwood.

2:15PM THE GOFFS UK PREMIER YEARLING STAKES (CLASS 2)  (CL 2) 6f 2YO £180,000.00

2:45PM THE CLIPPER LOGISTICS HANDICAP STAKES (CLASS 2) (Heritage Handicap)  (CL 2) 7f 192y 3YO+ £75,000.00

3:15PM THE DARLEY YORKSHIRE OAKS (CLASS 1) (Group 1) (British Champions Series)  (CL 1) 1m 3f 188y 3YO+ £250,000.00 – The race has been sponsored by Darley Stud since 2006, The event was established in 1849

3:45PM THE BRITISH EBF & SIR HENRY CECIL GALTRES STAKES (CLASS 1) (Listed Race)  (CL 1) 1m 3f 188y 3YO+ £35,500.00

4:20PM THE BRITISH STALLION STUDS EBF NURSERY HANDICAP STAKES (CLASS 2)  (CL 2) 7f 2YO £30,000.00

4:50PM THE BRITISH STALLION STUDS EBF FILLIES’ HANDICAP STAKES (CLASS 2)  (CL 2) 7f 3YO+ £30,000.00 Rating 0-105

Friday 21st August 2020 – Nunthorpe Day

1:45PM HANDICAP STAKES (CLASS 2)  (CL 2) 1m 3f 188y 3YO+ £30,000.00 Rating 0-105

2:15PM THE WEATHERBYS HAMILTON LONSDALE CUP STAKES (CLASS 1) (Group 2) (British Champions Series)  (CL 1) 2m 56y 3YO+ £100,000.00 – The event used to be called the Lonsdale Stakes, and for a period its original distance was 1 mile, 7 furlongs and 198 yards (1.9875 miles or 3198m). It was classed as a Listed race for several years, and it was promoted to Group 3 level in 1998. The race was renamed the Lonsdale Cup and given Group 2 status in 2004. It was extended by 78 yards in 2007 to its current distance.

2:45PM THE AL BASTI EQUIWORLD DUBAI GIMCRACK STAKES (CLASS 1) (Group 2)  (CL 1) 6f 2YO £100,000.00 – The event is named after Gimcrack, a successful racehorse in the 18th century. Gimcrack won twenty-seven times in a career of thirty-six races, but none of his victories were achieved at York. The Gimcrack Stakes was established in 1846, and it was originally open to horses of either gender. It was restricted to male horses in 1987.

3:15PM THE COOLMORE NUNTHORPE STAKES (CLASS 1) (Group 1) (British Champions Series)  (CL 1) 5f 2YO+ £250,000.00 – The event is named after Nunthorpe, an area of York. The first version, a low-grade selling race, was established in 1903. The present version began in 1922, and the inaugural running was won by Two Step.

3:45PM THE BRITISH STALLION STUDS EBF CONVIVIAL MAIDEN STAKES (CLASS 2) (PLUS 10 RACE)  (CL 2) 7f 2YO £30,000.00

4:20PM THE BRITISH STALLION STUDS EBF FILLIES’ HANDICAP STAKES (CLASS 2)  (CL 2) 1m 2f 56y 3YO+ £30,000.00 Rating 81-100

4:50PM THE NATIONWIDE ACCIDENT REPAIR SERVICES HANDICAP STAKES (CLASS 2)  (CL 2) 7f 192y 3YO £30,000.00 Rating 0-105

Saturday 22nd August 2020 – Ebor Day

1:50PM THE STRENSALL STAKES (CLASS 1) (Group 3)  (CL 1) 1m 177y 3YO+ £50,000.00 – The event is named after Strensall, a village located several miles to the north of York. It was formerly restricted to fillies, and it used to be contested over 7 furlongs. For a period it was classed at Listed level, and it was usually staged in early September.

2:25PM MELROSE HANDICAP STAKES (CLASS 2) (Heritage Handicap)  (CL 2) 1m 5f 188y 3YO £65,000.00 Rating 0-105

3:00PM CITY OF YORK STAKES (CLASS 1) (Group 2)  (CL 1) 7f 3YO+ £105,000.00

3:35PM EBOR HANDICAP STAKES (CLASS 2) (Heritage Handicap)  (CL 2) 1m 5f 188y 4YO+ £250,000.00 – The event was first run in 1843, and it was originally known as the Great Ebor Handicap. The race was introduced by John Orton, a newly appointed Clerk of the Course at York. It was initially contested over 2 miles, but its distance was later cut by 2 furlongs. The race is now held on the final day of York’s four-day Ebor Festival meeting. It is currently the most valuable flat handicap in Europe. The prize money was increased to £500,000 from the 2018 running and then to £1,000,000 from 2019, making it the first British handicap race worth £1,000,000. In connection with the prize money increase three-year-olds were excluded from the race from the 2019 running.

4:10PM THE JULIA GRAVES ROSES STAKES (CLASS 1) (Listed Race)  (CL 1) 5f 2YO £30,000.00

4:40PM HANDICAP STAKES (CLASS 2)  (CL 2) 1m 2f 56y 3YO+ £30,000.00 Rating 0-105

5:10PM APPRENTICE HANDICAP STAKES (CLASS 2)  (CL 2) 5f 3YO £30,000.00 Rating 0-105

Did you know? York’s highest attendance for a race meeting was recorded in 1851, when a crowd estimated at 150,000 saw The Flying Dutchman, winner of the Derby and St Leger in 1849, beat Voltigeur, who took both races the following year, in the so-called Great Match. The modern era record is the 42,586 who attended one July Saturday in 2010.

The Wine Tipster hopes you enjoy the York Ebor Festival #Eborathome this year, and looks forward to providing you with tips and coverage throughout the festival. Follow him on Social Media and his Unibet Racing Blog to keep up with him! Cheers! To get The Wine Tipster’s latest blog posts straight to your inbox, subscribe here.

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