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A Look Ahead to The York Ebor Festival’s Showpiece Race

The York Ebor Festival often gets overlooked by those outside of the horse racing world. But while festivals such as Cheltenham, Aintree, Ascot, Goodwood and Epsom may grab all the headlines, York’s racing showpiece remains one of the most popular events on the calendar with seasoned racing fans.

The four-day festival dates back to 1843 and attracts more than 350,000 racegoers from around the world each year. It is the last major flat race meeting of the season and second only to Ascot in terms of prize money, with more than £2.3 million distributed each year. It is also a hugely popular event with punters with 28 races providing plenty of Ebor betting opportunities for racing enthusiasts.

Key Races

The 2021 event begins on Wednesday, 18 August with seven races scheduled including the £1m Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes. Day Two is known as Ladies’ Day and features the Group 1 Darley Yorkshire Oaks which boasts a £400,000 prize fund. Friday’s showpiece is the Coolmore Wootton Bassett Nunthorpe Stakes which covers a distance of just five furlongs. The final day features the Ebor Heritage Handicap and the Group 2 City of York Stakes.

The Race of Legends

The Juddmonte International is the richest race held at York and has featured some legendary winners such as Dahlia, who won back-to-back races under Lester Piggott in 1975 and 1975; Frankel, who prevailed by seven lengths back in 2012; and Sea the Stars who won the race along with six other Group 1 wins (including the 2000 Guineas, Epsom Derby and Prix de L'arc de Triomphe) in 2009.

Aidan O'Brien needs just one more victory to become the outright leading trainer ahead of Sir Michael Stoute, with both men currently tied on six wins. O'Brien's first win came courtesy of Giant's Causeway back in 2000 and his most recent winner was Japan in 2019. All six were part-owned by Michael Tabor and Susan Magnier, the leading owners in the big race.

The Big Race Contenders

The O’Brien-trained St Mark's Basilica is the early favourite in the betting thanks to a record of four-straight wins stretching back to October. Ryan Moore rode him to his latest win at Sandown and will be favourite to take the saddle. St Marks Basilica is priced at Evens and will take some beating, although Mishriff, Love and Palace Pier will provide some quality opposition.

Love (also trained by Aidan O'Brien) triumphed in the Group 1 Darley Yorkshire Oaks at last year’s festival and also won the Prince of Wales's Stakes (Group 1) at Ascot this year. She followed that with a third-place finish behind Mishriff in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, also at Ascot, and can currently be backed as high as 8/1.

The John and Thady Gosden-trained Palace Pier has won eight out of nine outings and could provide the biggest threat to St Mark's Basilica. Frankie Dettori will be on board the 5/1 shot as he aims to move ahead of Lester Piggott and become the only jockey to win the race six times.

This year’s big race could be a classic but there’ll be plenty more action to keep race fans interested over the four days when this year’s Ebor Festivals gets underway on 18 August.