Run over 1m6f the Ebor Handicap is open to horses aged 3 or older and is run at York racecourse in August at their 4-day Ebor Festival Meeting. We’ve only seen one winning favourite land the prize in the last 16 runnings, so be wary of the market leaders, while with 15 of the last 16 winners were aged 6 or younger then you might want to avoid any older horses in the race.
We look back at past winners and give you the key trends ahead of Europe’s most valuable flat handicap race – run this year on Saturday August 25th 2018.
Key Ebor Handicap Betting Trends
16/16 – Carried 9-4 or less
15/16 – Aged 6 or younger
13/16 – Won from a double-figure stall
13/16 – Had won over at least 1m4f before
12/16 – Carried 9-1 or less
11/16 – Aged either 4 or 5 years-old
11/16 – Winning Distance - 1 length or less
9/16 – Had 3 or more runs already that season
8/16 – Unplaced favourites
7/16 – Had run at York before
5/16 – Ran at Ascot last time out
5/16 – Won last time out
4/16 – Irish-trained winners (4 of the last 9)
4/16 – Ran at Goodwood last time out
3/16 – Ran at Galway last time out
2/16 – Ridden by Jamie Spencer
2/16 – Trained by Luca Cumani
2/16 – Placed horses from stall 1 (third 2011, third 2013)
1/16 – Winning favourites
Just one winning favourite since 1999
Trainer Luca Cumani won the race in 1999, 2004 & 2007
Trainer Sir Michael Stoute won the race in 1980, 1991 & 1996
The average winning SP in the last 16 years is 22/1
Past Ebor Handicap Winners
2017 – Nakeeta (12/1)
2016 – Heartbreak City (15/2)
2015 – Litigant (33/1)
2014 – Mutual Regard (20/1)
2013 – Tiger Cliff (5/1)
2012 – Willing Foe (12/1)
2011 – Moyenne Corniche (25/1)
2010 – Dirar (14/1)
2009 – Sesenta (25/1)
2008 – All The Good (25/1)
2007 – Purple Moon (7/2 fav)
2006 – Mudawin (100/1)
2005 – Sergeant Cecil (11/1)
2004 – Mephisto (6/1)
2003 – Saint Alebe (20/1)
2002 – Hugs Dancer (25/1)
Note: 2008 renewal at Newbury over 1m3f
First run way back in 1843, the Ebor Handicap is currently the most valuable handicap flat race in Europe. Therefore, with a lucrative prize on the table it’s no surprise this 1m6f contest attracts an ultra-competitive field – much of the same can be expected this year.
Another big field will head to the Knavesmire – last year we had 19 runners – but with some standout trends we should be able to whittle down the entries once we know the final runners near the time.
So, let’s get cracking!
Let’s start with the age trend. We saw a 6 year-old in Nakeeta win the race 12 months ago and a 7 year-old land the prize in 2015 so maybe the tide is turning on the age stat. However, with 15 of the last 16 winners aged 6 or less then recent results suggest we should still be wary of older horses. In fact, with 11 of the last 16 (69%) winners aged 4 or 5 then this age bracket is the one that holds the clear advantage. Litigant won in 2015 as a 7 year-old, but before that the mighty Sea Pigeon (9 years-old) in 1979 was the last horse older than 6 to take this race.
Moving onto the draw. Being run over a trip of 1m6f then many feel the draw isn’t going to have much of a say – wrong! Despite being run over one of the longer trips on the flat the staring position is certainly something to take into account, especially with 13 of the last 16 winners coming from a double-figure stall – backed-up again in 2017 with Nakeeta winning from stall 18. Getting a good early position in the race and, more importantly, saving valuable ground is key - especially when turning for home at York. The horses drawn low often have much more ground to run over and can often be carried wide into the home straight – plus, when there is 15+ runners in the field this is highlighted even more. This is further backed-up as we’ve seen just two placed horses from stall one in the last 16 years!
Winning form over a trip of 1m4f+ is also something to look for with 13 of the last 16 winners fitting this trend. This will, however, apply to most of the runners but is something to still take into account.
Weight carried is another key factor as – don’t forget – this is a handicap. With ALL of the last 16 winners having 9-4 or less to carry this should be your cut-off point, while 12 of those 16 won with 9-1 or less on their backs if you wanted to take the weight trend a tiny bit further.
Bookie v Punter – who has fared best? Well, we’ve seen just one winning favourite since 1999, plus even a 100/1 winner popping up in 2006 then I think it’s safe to say this is a race the bookmakers have dominated in recent years. Plus, if you like laying horses on the betting exchanges then you might also be interested to know that 8 of the last 16 market leaders (59%) have also NOT even made the frame (top four finish).
Fitness seems to count for something too. Runners that had three or more outings that same season is another key stat to look for - 9 of the last 16 fit the bill here, while 7 of the last 16 winners had previous course experience at York. A massive 9 of the last 16 (56%) winners ran at either Goodwood or Ascot last time out, so it’s certainly worth looking back to see where your fancy last raced.
Finally, in terms of the best stables to note, then look no further than Luca Cumani and Sir Michael Stoute. Cumani has won the Ebor three times since 1999, with the most recent being in 2007, while despite not having won the prize since 1996 the Sir Michael Stoute team have recorded three wins in the race over the years. Being run over 1m6f then it’s also a race some of the jumping yards like to target – especially the Irish ones. Since 2009 we’ve had winners for the Willie Mullins, Gordon Elliott, Johnny Murtagh and Tony Martin camps so anything any of this Irish-based bunch send over shouldn’t be overlooked.
TQ VERDICT: Last year’s Ebor winner – Nakeeta – will be looking to become the first horse since 1922/23 to land back-to-back wins in Europe’s most valuable flat handicap but is rated 4lbs higher this year and also being a 7 year-old now falls down on the key age trend – 15 of the last 16 winners were aged 5 or 6 years-old. On a plus, draw 15 looks decent (he won from stall 18 last year), while he was only 3 ¾ lengths behind Stratum at Newbury last time out. The Willie Mullins camp took the race in 2009 and have another decent hand this year with Whiskey Sour and Stratum in the race. The last-named has been all the rage for this after dotting-up at Newbury last time out and ticks most of the main trends like age and weight. However, this has also been a graveyard race for favourites – with just one market leader winning since 1999 and unless you are on at much bigger prices he certainly looks no value in a race of this nature. He’s also been handed draw 4 and this looks a negative with 13 of the last 16 winners coming from a double-figure berth. WHISKEY SOUR (e/w) is a versatile horse that William Buick has been booked to ride. He’s just as good over hurdles as he is on the flat and will be spot-on for this after a fine fifth in the Ascot Stakes at the Royal Meeting in June and wasn’t disgraced when seventh in the Galway Hurdle last time. This 5 year-old ticks the main age trends and gets in with just 9st 3lbs in weight, while with 4 of the last 9 winners Irish trained this is another positive for him. Draw 18 looks ideal too. Jockey Jamie Spencer has won this race a few times in the past, so his mount Blakeney Point is another to note. The first-time blinkers are an interesting addition to this 5 year-old that has been running in better class races than this of late. Sea The Lion is another Irish raider that comes here on a four-timer but is also up 11lbs from his last win and at 7 years-old falls down on the age trend. Teodoro would be a contender but would need to prove he gets the trip as all his runs to date have been over 1m4f or shorter. Trainers Jedd O’Keefe (19%) and Ralph Beckett (20%) do well with their older horses at the track so their Lord Yeats, who flopped in the race last year, and Mountain Bell can be totally discounted. The Balding horses are going well – they run Montaly and Scotland – and they both certainly have the past form to go well. Muntahaa and proven course and distance winner Dylan Mouth can’t be ruled out but the other one I like here is WEEKENDER (e/w). Yes, with 9st 12lbs in weight then he’s got a bit to prove with this burden but he’s a classy sort that could easily turn out to be much better than a handicapper. He’s run well in Listed and Group races of late and has only finished out of the top three once from 9 starts. Frankie gets the leg-up and he’s been kept fresh for this after a close second in the Listed Grand Cup Stakes here over this trip last time. Draw 13 looks fine too for this 4 year-old and although it won’t be easy having to give 10lbs away to the Mullins favourite he certainly looks the better value – he’ll be looking to give trainer John Gosden his first win in this race.