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The Guide to the York Ebor Festival

The Ebor Festival is one of the premier meetings on the European flat racing scene each summer and racegoers have been lining up for this one since the 1840s.

The event encompasses four days of racing, starting on a Tuesday, with each day boasting a high stakes feature race. A number of exciting handicaps and listed contests also unfold on the undercards and punters can expect virtually all the key races to boast sizable jackpot pools.

York Racecourse itself offers up some interesting challengers for punters with a wide variety of starting positions that can drastically alter the outcome of the race. 1m2f races in particular can be tricky as the runners are expected to shift diagonally to the left as soon as they come out of the gate whereas the 1m distance has them running into a straightaway and then making a sharp left-handed turn referred to as the elbow.

Studying the starting points and factoring that into your handicapping is a must-have approach when betting at York.

Four Days of Action

Tuesday's racing is referred to as Juddmonte Day and it opens the festival every year. It represents one of the better days of racing over the four day festival and the major contests tend to draw significant betting volume – especially for a Tuesday.

The feature contests on day one of the Ebor Festival include the Group 1 Juddmonte International which is a top destination for accomplished Group 1 runners contesting a classic distance.

It boasts a significant purse and is open to contenders aged three-year-old and up so you're always bound to see an interesting contrast between emerging horses contesting the classics with a few accomplished older horses looking to capitalize. Sea the Stars famously won this race during his incredible three-year-old season.

The Group 2 Great Volitgeur Stakes also runs on the opening day and that's a contest for three-year-olds looking to stretch out with a 1m4f distance. Two-year-olds feature in the Group 3 Acomb Stakes which is a 7f contest going around the elbow.

Day two of the York Ebor Festival includes the Ebor Handicap which is an ancient race, tracing its origins back to 1843. It is an ungraded but high-priced handicap with £210,000 up for grabs. The race is run at 1m6f and usually features some prominent invaders.

Other notable races on day two of the Ebor Festival include the Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes, which is a 6f contest fr two-year-old colts and geldings. The Lonsdale Cup also features prominently and it is run at a 2m88y distance that generally attracts some of the better stayers from the UK and Europe.

Two-year-old fillies take the stage in the Group 2 Lowther Stakes on day three of the Ebor Festival in a 6f contest. The race honours the 5th Earl of Lonsdale and serves as a prep for the Cheveley Park Stakes.

Thursday is considered to be Ladies' Day at the festival and the day's action is anchored by the Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks – a 1m4f contest for fillies and mares. Contenders from the Epsom Oaks usually face off against some older females in this one with a substantial purse of £310,000 split amongst the top finishers.

The final day of the Ebor Festival features the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes which is a very quick 5f dash for two-year-olds and up that tends to attract some of the better short-distance contenders. This one is odd because two-year-olds generally don't face open company very often and Borderlescott came back in 2009 after winning in 2008 to take the younger contenders to school one more time when adding a significant amount of weight.

Two-year-olds get nearly 2st on the older horses and this one is always a fascinating handicap. The Group 3 Strensall Stakes is also contested on the final day and this is a 1m208y contest for three-year-olds and up.

The York Ebor is a great betting festival for novice punters looking to get some practice backing high-quality flat runners. There aren't too many staying contests beyond 1m4f and the focus tends to be on sprint races and classic distances. You don't see a huge amount of debutantes in these ones so you'll have some form and ratings to work with as well. Many races in this festival are run as handicaps so pay particular attention to the weight penalties based on age and previous wins.

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