THE WELCOME TO YORKSHIRE EBOR FESTIVAL 2019: RECORD PRIZE MONEY, TOP HORSES AND SENSATIONAL FASHION
The Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival was first established in 1843 with the inaugural running of the Ebor Handicap, and in 2019 it offered record prize money of well over £5 million, attracting some of the top rated thoroughbreds in the world to the Knavesmire.
Originally a three-day meeting the festival has extended and this year took place over four spectacular days of racing action from Wednesday 21st to Saturday 24th August.
As one of the last major race meetings of the Flat racing season, the Ebor Festival is also one of the biggest meetings in the UK and is billed as York Racecourse’s flagship event.
The global nature of the top quality competition was reflected with the three Group Ones all being part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series, and the Juddmonte International and Darley Yorkshire Oaks attracting huge bonuses for the winners to go to race in Japan.
Each of the four days had a spectacular selection of feature races as well as events and entertainments off the track for the stylishly dressed racegoers.
Eclipse Magazine photographer Ian Yates (eyewhy.co.uk) was on hand to catch the action.
DAY 1 Juddmonte Day (Wednesday 21st August)
Off to a flying start, the day featured the Juddmonte International, Great Voltigeur Stakes and Acomb Stakes.
Independently ranked in the top five races in the world last year, the Group 1 Juddmonte International, had £1 million on offer to the horse seeking to follow some of the best middle-distance horses in Europe into the Winner’s Enclosure on the opening day: in recent years the 1 mile 2 furlong race has been won by Frankel, Sea The Stars and Authorised.
It was widely expected that favourite Crystal Ocean, who finished runner-up to Enable in the King George, would take the prize but in a sinew-straining tussle for the finish he was beaten by Japan (5/1) ridden by Ryan Moore and trained by Aidan O’Brien.
Trained by John Gosden, a son of Frankel, Logician (10-11 favourite) powered to victory under Frankie Dettori in the Great Voltigeur Stakes, while Richard Fahey-trained Valdermoro took the Acomb Stakes.
DAY 2 Ladies Day (Thursday 22nd August)
Ladies Day featured the Lowther Stakes, the Goffs UK Premier Yearling Stakes, the Clipper Logistics Handicap and the Yorkshire Oaks. It also included the Galtres Stakes and the EBF Fillies Handicap.
The Sky Bet Lowther at £225,000 is Britain’s richest Group 2 for juvenile fillies. The race saw a surprise win from Karl Burke-trained Living In The Past (15/1) who led the field under Daniel Tudhope, seeing off a late challenge from favourite Liberty Beach who could only come in second.
The Goffs UK Premier Yearling Stakes then saw Richard Hannon-trained Mums Tipple produce blistering performance under Ryan Moore, as he surged ahead of the rest of the field in the six-furlong contest to come home 11 lengths clear of Rayong, followed by Klopp Of The Kop in third.
The Clipper Logistics Handicap was won by What’s The Story (12/1) ridden by Joe Fanning, heading Vale Of Kent (10/1) ridden by Frankie Dettori, in the last few strides.
Superstar mare Enable (1/4 favourite) brought tears to the eyes of her jockey, Frankie Dettori, in Group One Darley Yorkshire Oaks: she travelled so easily and beautifully for her front-running win, and repeated her victory in this race from 2017 in emphatic fashion to see off old adversary Magical after the very briefest of challenges. Magical had been supplemented for the 1m 4f Group One contest but was unable to match John Gosden-trained Enable’s turn of foot in the last two furlongs.
The race’s prize money this year was increased to £400,000; up £50,000 on 2018.
The British EBF & Sir Henry Cecil Galtres Stakes saw Search For A Song (3/1) stay on well inside the final furlong under Oisin Murphy.
Excellent Times defied her odds of 66/1 to take the British Stallion Studs EBF Fillies’ Handicap under jockey Phil Dennis. Favourite Salayel (3/1) could only come fourth, with Agincourt (9/1) in second place and Chaleur (10/1) in third.
DAY 3 Nunthorpe Day (Friday 23rd August)
Feature races on the third day of the Ebor Festival were the Nunthorpe Stakes, Gimcrack Stakes and the Lonsdale Cup.
Stradivarius had won at York, Ascot and Goodwood already this season and after taking last year’s Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers’ Million, a follow-up feat for owner-breeder Bjorn Nielsen looked extremely likely.
The richest ever renewal of Weatherbys Hamilton Insurance Lonsdale Cup was offering £225,000 for the best stayer, but as the final leg of the Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers’ Bonus once again, Stradivarius on course to take hom the £1 million bonus, having won the Matchbook Yorkshire Cup and Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.
And he did not disappoint. The John Gosden-trained five-year-old was ridden to his ninth consecutive win by Frankie Dettori as they moved to the front a furlong from home. Dee Ex Bee held on gamely to come second for the third time running behind Stradivarius (4/9), with Aidan O’Brien’s Il Paradiso in third.
At £225,000 the Al Basti Equiworld Gimcrack, is Britain’s richest Group 2 for colts. The Richard Hannon-trained Threat started as 11/10 favourite having come runner up in both the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Richmond Stakes at Goodwood,
The previous race experience paid off this time, as the colt, ridden by Oisin Murphy, tackled leader of the field Lord Of The Lodge, to beat him by a length and a quarter. Repartee was two and three-quarter lengths away in third.
From stayers to sprinters: the Group One Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes saw its prize money rise to £400,000; an increase of £50,000 on 2018. This 5 furlong whirl, attracts the world’s speediest equines – and this year did not disappoint.
The line up included Battaash – favourite for the race with his third straight King George Stakes win at Glorious Goodwood under his belt. However, his poor record at York led challengers to believe they could be in with a chance.
Strong contenders included Ten Sovereigns, winner of the July Cup, and Mabs Cross, winner of the Prix de l’Abbaye at Longchamp and second in last year’s photo finish in the Nunthorpe last year.
However, hopes of overcoming Battaash (7/4) were smashed as the Charlie Hills-trained gelding blasted through Dayjur’s 1990 course record in 55 seconds of pure horsepower. Soldiers Call took second place, and So Perfect came in third before Mabs Cross claimed fourth; but Ten Sovereigns, sent off the 13/8 favourite, had to settle for sixth.
DAY 4 Ebor Day (Saturday 24th August)
Featuring the Sky Bet Ebor Handicap: in 2019 the feature contest for four year olds and upwards became the richest Flat handicap in Europe with prize money of £1,000,000; double that of last year.
This famous handicap attracted 22 runners, and after being pushed along by jockey Colin Keane in the final furlong, 16/1-shot Mustajeer managed to overcome Red Galileo (25/1), Desert Skyline (25/1) and Raymond Tusk (16/1) in the closing strides.
The six-year-old Mustajeer, trained in Ireland by Ger Lyons and owned by David Spratt along with syndicate Australian Bloodstock, had come fourth behind Muntahaa in the same race the year before. The team had targeted this race again and this time the gamble paid off!