The £1m Ebor handicap!

The Weekend Bulletin (Sat 24th August)

At the time of writing we are in the midst of a feast of racing on the Knavesmire with the York Festival and on Saturday the richest Flat handicap in Europe is due to take place. The Ebor Handicap is steeped in history and the new sponsors Sky Bet have upped the ante with an incredible £1 million prize money on offer!

The historical trends may need treating with careful handling as there have been significant changes to the frame of the race and it will be interesting to see how our resident Big Race Guru, Nick Hardman, handles them in his summation of the runners.

You can find out more about Nick’s specialist approach here

Ebor Handicap (1m 6f Heritage Handicap) York 3.40pm

Europe’s richest handicap takes centre stage on the final day of York’s Ebor meeting and this is a race where we will have a decent sized field for the each-way punter to get stuck into. 

You only have to look at the prices of the previous winners to know that if you land the winner you will most likely be looking at a decent pay day. That role of honour includes Litigant at 33/1 (2015), Mutual Regard who was a perfect trends fit at 20/1 (2014) and Moyenne Corniche at 25/1 in 2011.

In fact, there have been no fewer than 9 winners since 1997 who went in at an SP of 20/1 or higher and that includes the rarities of all rarities in a 100/1 winner back 2006 (Jane Chapple-Hyam’s Mudawin). 

Last year we picked out 11/1 winner Muntahaa. 

Hopefully more of the same again this time around. 

A high draw has been favourable in recent times with only 5 winners exiting from a single figure draw since 1997. In fact, 15 of the last 19 winners came from stall 14 or higher so look for a high draw. 

15 of the last 22 winners managed a top 4 finish last time out so a good recent run is a positive. Only 3 winners since 1997 took this race having finished outside the top 7 in their last run. 

Not much to go on trainer-wise. Luca Cumani has won the race three times but has since retired from the training ranks and Saeed Bin Suroor has won the race twice in recent times, most recently in 2012 with Willing Foe. 

Dual purpose and jumps trainers are worth a second look with the likes of Gordon Elliott, Willie Mullins, AJ Martin and Ian Jardine all winning this recently. 

Four year olds have the worst record despite making up most of the runners and only 3 have been successful from 176 in that age group since 1997 which points us towards horses aged 5 and older. 

The 5yo’s themselves are the most successful group with 11 wins from 122 runners since 1997. The market does not offer many clues with two winning favourites since 1997. In fact, outsiders do exceptionally well and 11 of the last 22 winners were outside the top 6 in the betting. 

Interestingly, 16 of the last 22 winners had raced over two miles or further and a win over 1m 6f or further is also favourable (15 of the last 22 winners).

Other strong statistics include no more than 5 runs in the current season and 19 of the last 22 winners last raced at Galway, Ascot, Leopardstown, Goodwood or Newmarket (July). 

Other useful looking statistics include 20/22 had won no more than 5 previous handicap races, 14/22 had won a race that season and 21/22 had won no more than 4 career flat races.

Here is the profile of a typical winning Ebor horse:

  • Aged 5yo or 6yo
  • Top 4 finish LTO
  • Winning form over 1m 6f or further
  • Raced over 2 miles or further
  • Drawn in stall 14 or higher
  • Last ran at Galway, Leopardstown, Goodwood, Ascot or Newmarket (July)
  • No more than 5 runs in the current season
  • No more than 5 previous handicap wins
  • No more than 4 previous wins on the flat
  • Won a race this season

Nick will be using the above to help in his evaluation of the runners to find out which of the entries he settles on as his final selection(s)

Sat 24th August

York 3.40pm
This race has changed complexion in the last couple of years now being for 4yo+ horses and attracting the Group / Listed horses as well as the handicappers. From a trends perspective it renders OR of previous winners largely irrelevant as it does the historical performance of the 3yo’s. That said the draw and an ability to stay are still important factors. I like the chance of Weekender putting up a bold show as he was second in this last year and looks to have been laid out for another crack at the prize. Not far behind is Red Verdon who was acquitting himself well in Group races this time last year and is still on a feasible mark despite going up 5lb for his win last time. One that might have sneaked under the radar is Irish challenger Mustajeer, 4th in this last year off the same mark, who has been running with credit in Listed and Group races this season, but a career best is required here. He may be up to it but I’m not totally convinced at a general 16/1. With that in mind, Raymond Tusk could be worth chancing at a decent price. His efforts behind Dee Ex Bee and Crystal Ocean (over a trip probably too short) read well in the context of this race and he has a Listed and Group 2 win on his CV. This is his first run in a handicap and a strongly run race would suit as he stays further.

Weekender @20/1 e/w (1/5 odds, 6 places)
Raymond Tusk @25/1 e/w (1/5 odds, 5 places)
Red Verdon @25/1 e/w (1/5 odds, 6 places)

Together We Can Win in 2019

Darren & Steve

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