The summer months in the UK are rich pickings for racing fans as the top-class action on the flat comes thick and fast, with the racing calendar packed full of quality contests. One of the most popular meetings takes place at the end of August as York Racecourse hosts its Ebor meeting, with the four-day extravaganza among-est the most popular festivals with fans, punters and trainers.
Whilst the Ebor may not have as much international appeal as the likes of Royal Ascot, Glorious Goodwood or the St Leger, it remains a cut above the majority of meetings in August. York Racecourse has recently acknowledged its popularity by adding £60,000 to the prize pots of a number of key races in 2017, increasing the total prize money by £320,000 from last year’s total. There will not be a single race across the four days that rewards the winning connections with less than £70,000.
The Ebor is York’s flagship meeting and can now boast £4.4million in prizes in total, which has increased by over 50% since the 2011 staging of the festival. The City of York Stakes remains the richest Britain’s richest Group 3 contest for older horses and will now offer £175,000 to the winner of the contest, which takes place on the Friday of the four-day festival.
The Juddmonte Stakes will become York’s richest ever race, with over £900,000 awarded to the winner of the race, which has previously seen the imperious Frankel and Sea the Stars triumph. Online bookmakers Betway have Barney Roy priced up as narrow 5/2 favorite for the event ahead of Churchill, who is 11/4 in the betting. The increased prize pots look certain to attract larger fields and entrants from further afield with US and French-based trainers all taking part in a number of Group One contests on the Knavesmire.
The exponential increases in prize money year-on-year are quickly propelling the Ebor meeting to become one of the richest summer meetings on the calendar, although it still falls short of QIPCO Champions Day at Ascot, which takes place in October and offers over £3 million worth of prize money for the single day event. However, the Ebor meeting can boast the richest nursery handicap, maiden and apprentice race in Britain, all of which offer £60,000 to the winners. Meanwhile, the Ebor itself continues to be Europe’s richest flat handicap race with the current prize pot standing at £280,000.
The organizers at York Racecourse continually strive to improve the Ebor meeting each year and this time around each across the four days will feature speed-tracking equipment, which allows the crowd to witness current positions and speeds on the big screen provided by Al Basti Equiworld and this will allow winning race times to be published as soon as the field cross the line.
The Ebor meeting is one of the most popular events on the racing calendar for racegoers given its proximity to the August bank holiday weekend. Each year, the course releases the official attendance figures with the 2011 renewal seeing 361,087 spectators flock to the Knavesmire to enjoy the spectacle, whilst the 2015 event clocked up a 10% increase on recent years. Racing continues to go from strength to strength in the UK, with Royal Ascot and the Derby meeting regularly responsible for two of the biggest audiences for sporting events each and every year. York’s flagship meeting is one of the many top class summer events that help increase this overall figure.
Part of the appeal of these meetings is the glamour, with Royal Ascot particularly synonymous with sartorial elegance, with items such as hats playing a key role. The ‘Ebor Fashion Lawn’ offers an incentive for race-goers to make a significant effort in their outfit choices and offers such awards as ‘Best Dressed Couple’ and ‘Best Dressed Hat’. The course’s proximity to the town centre and the picturesque surroundings help attract great swathes of attendees each and every year and the top-class action often keeps them returning for more. Accommodationn is certainly not in short supply, with the Marriott Hotel backing onto the racecourse and a number of other establishments situated a short taxi ride away.
The Ebor meeting certainly deserves its place amongest the top UK flat meetings as it appears to go from strength to strength, with the organizers always striving to improve the experience for visitors. The increased prize money attracts larger fields full of top-class horses and the 2017 Ebor Festival is likely to thrill the Knavesmire once again when it gets underway on August 23.