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england york ebor festival 2021
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The York Ebor Festival is very much the Royal Ascot of the North, and 2021 saw the return to normality with a crowd of 80,000 spectators over the four days at this high caliber summer meeting. This is the best run track in the country, with fantastic ground conditions and mouthwatering cards each day drawing a huge Yorkshire crowd to watch top-class racing. Clerk of the Course William Derby (alongside Anthea Leigh) are an example to all other tracks, with the ground in immaculate condition as usual, and an excellent cover of grass meaning there was no jar and big fields all week.

In this article:

‘Mishriff’ routs his rivaвийдеls for the Juddmonte International

The Juddmonte International is a Group 1 race worth over a million pounds in prize money, and this year’s renewal was rather marred by the absence of the likely short-priced favourite ‘St Mark’s Basilica’. However, there was an explosive performance on the day, as John and Thady Gosden’s globetrotting superstar ‘Mishriff’ sprinted clear of his rivals under a motionless David Egan. This was one of the most impressive performances of the festival, with an extremely fast time suggesting that the ground was already on the faster side of good on Wednesday. There were some disappointments behind with Aiden O’Brien’s ‘Love’ very laboured a long way out, and the stable remains under something of a cloud with just two winners in August so far (although matters improved later in the week with Snowfall winning impressively).

‘Royal Patronage’ springs a 25/1 surprise in the Acomb Stakes

Mark Johnston has a terrific record in this 2-y-o Group 3, and his unconsidered outsider ‘Royal Patronage’ showed devastating early pace to make all the running under a very well-judged ride from Jason Hart. Behind the leader there were disappointments, notably Hugo Palmer’s well-backed favourite ‘Dubawi Legend’ leaving punters on the back foot to start the week ahead.

Horses for Courses

Time and time again horses come back to York to win again, mainly due to the flat, fair nature of the course that suits runners with a high cruising speed and/or a sharp turn of foot. ‘Copper Knight’ became the first horse in York history to win six times on the Knavesmire, landing a red-hot huge field sprint handicap on Wednesday. This continued a fantastic run for the popular Yorkshire trainer 

Tim Easterby, notching his 93rd winner of the season so far, and he added two other successes when Cruyff Turn sprang a 28/1 shock on Thursday and Winter Power landed the Nunthorpe on Friday.

The Sky Bet Great Voltigeur Stakes goes to ‘Yibir’

Charlie Appleby’s useful 3 y-o had been a major disappointment when pulling hard last time out at Goodwood (perhaps ill at ease on the undulating track there), but he was a totally different proposition here under a well-judged patient ride from last to first by James Doyle.

The race was notable for the disappointing run (again) by the favourite ‘High Definition’, who was under pressure and going nowhere turning for home. He was the one-time ante-post favourite for the Epsom Derby but has been a very expensive horse to follow so far this summer (and is definitely one to avoid for punting purposes).

‘Zain Claudette’ swoops to win the Lowther Stakes

Ismail Mohammed has a real star on his hands in this progressive filly, who supplemented her Royal Ascot win with a game success in the valuable Lowther Stakes to open day two at the Ebor meeting. 

She foiled a wholesale gamble on Andrew Balding’s 6/5 favourite ‘Sandrine’, who rather allowed the winner first run before finishing really strongly into a closing second. There is plenty more improvement to come from both these high-class fillies, and it will be interesting to see if they clash again in the Autumn months ahead.

‘Snowfall’ a class apart from her rivals in the Yorkshire Oaks

Aidan O’Brien came into the Yorkshire Oaks on Wednesday with just two winners in the last six weeks (and a remarkably low 7% strike rate). He demonstrated that this was just a temporary blip as his incredible filly ‘Snowfall’ routed her rivals to notch another wide margin success. The remarkable 3-y-o was sent off a heavily backed 8/15 favourite and was roared home by the packed York grandstand as Ryan Moore eased clear hard held on the bridle from her toiling rivals. The Arc prospects of ‘Wonderful Tonight’ took a real beating here with a lacklustre run-on ground that was too fast for her, and ‘Snowfall’ is likely now to start a short priced favourite at Paris Longchamp in October (currently a best priced 9/4f with William Hills).

Low draws are the place to be at York

All through the four-day meeting it paid to be drawn low, with the far rail seemingly a few lengths faster and those drawn high struggling to get involved. This applied particularly to the big field handicaps, with the winner of the opener on Thursday ‘Sam Cooke’ coming from stall two and racing handily throughout (nothing from off the pace ever threatened to get involved). On fast ground especially, it is well worth Beth.bet subscribers focusing on low drawn prominent runners at this track in the summer months.

Lonsdale Cup produces a thriller as Stradivarius lands the odds

The absence of Alan King’s Goodwood Cup winner ‘Trueshan’ left just four runners for this valuable staying prize, but it produced a brilliant contest and an ultra-tough display from 4/6f ‘Stradivarius’. He had to dig very deep to fend off market rival ‘Spanish Mission’, with the pair battling all the way up the long straight as the pace-making ‘Grand Visir’ dropped away. The runner-up traded at 1.07 in running on betfair as he seemed to get the better off the odds-on favourite, but they had counted against the fantastic attitude of the winner under an inspired ride from Frankie Dettori (notching his sixth victory in this prize at the age of 50). Pleasingly for punters who have followed this fantastic stayer over the years (18 career wins aged 7), he is set to race on, and the Doncaster Cup is likely to be on the agenda again.

Winter Power lands the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes for Tim Easterby

Many viewed this valuable Group 1 sprint as the race of the week, and it certainly did not disappoint as Wesley Ward’s ‘Golden Pal’ was sent off the well backed 9/4f (reportedly the “fastest horse I have ever trained”). He had a prime draw in stall 1 under Frankie Dettori, but was a spent force over a furlong out, leaving the 3-y-o ‘Winter Power’ to sweep past for a brilliant success. The Goodwood winner ‘Suesa’ was run off her feet before finishing strongly, and she seems to need much softer ground to be seen at her best (Prix L’Abbaye would be a sensible target in October). She has a fantastic record at York and has reportedly strengthened up and put on weight this summer, now looking the finished article and one to follow when the ground rides on the faster side.

Skybet Ebor Handicap falls to Ireland and 16-y-o Ben Coen

The big betting race of the week started with a setback for punters as the likely favourite ‘Live your Dream’ failed to make the final field of 22. This left a wide-open looking race, with the showers arriving to ease the ground throughout the day on Saturday (officially good). Yet again an Irish runner came over and plundered a valuable prize, with Johnny Murtagh’s well supported 10/1 chance ‘Sonnyboyliston’ getting the better of a fantastic tussle inside the final furlong with ‘Quickthorn’. His young rider Ben Coen is very much a name to remember in the next few years (only turned 16 in recent weeks), with his strength in the saddle proving the difference here.

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