Europe’s most valuable handicap flat race is the feature of the last day of York’s Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival.
First run way back in 1843, the Ebor Handicap (Saturday 3.40) is open to horses aged three or over but we’ve only seen one winning favourite land the prize in the last 16 runnings, so be wary of the market leaders.
Other key trends to note include 15 of the last 16 winners being aged six or younger, and 13 came from a stall with a double figure.
Despite being run over one of the longer trips on the flat at 1m 6f the staring position is certainly something to consider, backed-up again last year 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 are 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 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.
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.
Since 2009 we’ve had winners for the Willie Mullins, Gordon Elliott, Johnny Murtagh and Tony Martin camps and the Irish are well represented this year by STRATUM a clear 7/2 favourite with Carrigill’s.
Willie Mullins’ five-year-old produced a decent effort to land a big pot at Newbury last time out but he’s too short for me and CROWNED EAGLE may offer better value at 14s if drawn favourably.
The trip is new territory for Marco Botti’s four-year-old who lost out narrowly to last Saturday’s Geoffrey Freer winner Hamada here in May and has clearly been laid out for this since running a neck second to Rainbow Rebel in the Old Newton Cup.
The pair pulled nearly three lengths clear of the rest and the winner is now rated 13lb higher, as is fourth placed Teodoro. At 107 he’s rated higher than any recent winner, but the nature of the race suggests a horse rated so highly will eventually buck the trend.
Elsewhere on the card John Gosden’s BEN VRACKIE can come out on top in a wide open Melrose (2.25) while David O’Meara can continue his impressive record in the opening race of the last day. He has won the race twice in the last four years and has LORD GLITTERS this year.
CARRIGILL’S NAP: (Stake returned as a free bet if selection does not finish in the top 4): NAKETTA, Saturday, 3.40, York.
AUGUR’S BEST BET: CROWNED EAGLE (e/w) Saturday, 3.40, York.