Ebor Handicap Date is Saturday, 22 August 2020 (3:35)
Type: Heritage Handicap
Age Of The Horses: 4 Years Old and Older
Distance: 1 Mile 5 Furlongs 188 Yards
Winner 2019: Mustajeer
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2020 Ebor Handicap
By far the most famous winners in the 175 years plus history of the Ebor are Sea Pigeon in 1979 and Further Flight in 1990. The former has claims of being the most versatile racehorse ever, as he also won the Chester Cup on the Flat and the Champion Hurdle twice at the Cheltenham Festival. Further Flight, meanwhile, won five subsequent renewals of the Long Distance Cup (then called the Jockey Club Cup). The Ebor Handicap is seen as the British equivalent of Australia’s Melbourne Cup.
2020 Ebor Handicap Runners & Favourites
A total of 43 horses have been entered in this year’s Ebor Handicap. The maximum field size that can run is 22, so here are all the entries in order of official rating:
- Communique (Mark Johnston, 114)
- Deja (Peter Chapple-Hyam, 112)
- True Self (Willie Mullins, IRE, 110)
- Trueshan (Alan King, 109)
- Fujaira Prince (Roger Varian, 108)
- Pablo Escobarr (William Haggas, 108)
- Pondus (Joseph O’Brien, IRE, 107)
- Red Verdon (Ed Dunlop, 107)
- Stratum (Willie Mullins, IRE, 107)
- Ghostwatch (Charlie Appleby, 106)
- Le Don De Vie (Hughie Morrison, 106)
- The Grand Visir (Ian Williams, 106)
- What’s The Story (Keith Dalgleish, 106)
- El Misk (John Gosden, 105)
- Floating Artist (Richard Hannon, 105)
- Alright Sunshine (Keith Dalgleish, 104)
- Get Shirty (Cristophe Ferland, FRA, 104)
- Scarlet Dragon (Alan King, 104)
- Stargazer (Phil Kirby, 104)
- Desert Icon (William Haggas, 103)
- King’s Advice (Mark Johnston, 103)
- Shailene (Andrew Balding, 103)
- Euchen Glen (Jim Goldie, 102)
- Monica Sheriff (William Haggas, 102)
- Ranch Hand (Andrew Balding, 102)
- Verdana Blue (Nicky Henderson, 102)
- Volcanic Sky (Saeed bin Suroor, 102)
- Buildmeupbuttercup (Willie Mullins, IRE, 101)
- Glencadam Glory (Tim Easterby, 99)
- Island Brave (Heather Main, 99)
- Jeremiah (Charlie Fellowes, 99)
- Caravan Of Hope (Hugo Palmer, 98)
- Dash Of Spice (David Elsworth, 98)
- Almania (David Simcock, 97)
- Hochfeld (Mark Johnston, 97)
- Makawee (David O’Meara, 97)
- Here And Now (Ralph Beckett, 96)
- Cape Coast (Mark Johnston, 95)
- Diocletian (Andrew Balding, 95)
- Fox Vardy (Martyn Meade, 92)
- Mandarin (David Loughnane, 90)
- Rhythmic Intent (Stuart Williams, 90)
- Grandmaster Flash (Joseph O’Brien, IRE, 89)
Course and distance winner Ghostwatch has shaped well on his last two comeback runs after more than 600 days on the sidelines. Trained by Charlie Appleby for powerful global owners Godokphin, this five-year-old gelding won the 2018 Melrose Handicap at this meeting two years ago. Ghostwatch went on to land the Listed Noel Murless Stakes at Ascot over the Ebor trip that autumn. Following his lengthy spell out of action, he was entitled to need his return when last of 10 to Dashing Willoughby in the Buckhounds Stakes at Newmarket.
Ghostwatch then ran a cracking race in defeat in the bet365 Trophy at Newmarket’s July Festival. Carrying a welter burden in that Heritage Handicap, he was only held half-a-length close home by Cape Coast when trying to give the winner 13lb. On the back of that effort, Ghostwatch placed in Listed company over in France. He was a keeping on third and only beaten a couple of lengths by Get Shirty at Deauville.
There has been enough in these recent outings to suggest that Ghostwatch retains plenty of ability. His conqueror in France holds entries in both the Ebor Handicap and Lonsdale Cup, having previously placed at Group 2 level. On home soil, and with Ghostwatch back at the scene of his greatest triumph, the form may be reversed. Odds of 16/1 with Paddy Power are well worth considering each-way.
Hamish (8/1) – Injured, Not Running
Hamish is two out of two over the Ebor course and distance, winning the Melrose Handicap that is restricted to three-year-olds and held on the same day as this race 12 months ago. When following-up at the Knavesmire on different ground, he proved himself versatile enough to handle both sound and soft going. Hamish, who is trained by William Haggas and owned by his family, was held just a neck by Trueshan off level weights on his final start of last season at Newbury.
He has since shaped well enough on his return to action when snatching four close home in the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot over a mile-and-a-half. A four-year-old gelding by Motivator, Hamish was hampered on the home turn and lost a shoe in that run. He was just half-a-length behind late Group 1 winner Defoe and finished a head in front of 2019 Derby hero Anthony Van Dyck when last in action.
jaira Prince (10/1)
As runner-up in the 2019 Jorvik Handicap, Fujaira Prince may have had the Ebor Handicap on his radar for well over a year. Trained by Roger Varian for Sheikh Mohammed Obaid, the six-year-old gelding by Pivotal belies his pedigree by staying much further than a mile. Fujaira Prince is very lightly-raced for his age after just seven career starts and he has won four of those, placing on the other occasions.
After staying on into third in the 2019 Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes at Royal Ascot, he spent a year off the track. However, Fujaira Prince looked as good as ever on his first start over the Ebor trip on his return to action in the Copper Horse Handicap. This race was added to the Royal Ascot schedule this year to make up for some of the springtime races lost from the programme. Sent off the 3/1 favourite, Fujaira Prince led going very easily approaching two out.
Watch Fujaira Prince win the Copper Horse Handicap Stakes 2020:
Trainer Alan King is having a fine season with his Flat handicappers, so Trueshan is also one to keep in mind for the Ebor following his exploits last autumn and a win at Listed level this season. He twice beat Caravan Of Hope last season who has gone on to land the Northumberland Plate at Newcastle. The four-year-old Planteur gelding also prevailed over Hamish by neck on heavy ground at Newbury following a ready success in the Old Rowley Cup at Newmarket.
Trueshan shaped as though needing the run when fourth to subsequent Henry II Stakes scorer Dashing Willoughby in a hot Listed race at Newmarket on reappearance. He came on for that return to action, however, when landing another event in that grade at Haydock last time out. There was a sustained duel between him and Alignak on Merseyside, but Trueshan just got on top on the line for a short-head success.
Verdana Blue (20/1)
The aforementioned victory of Sea Pigeon means National Hunt horses are no strangers to success in the Ebor Handicap. If Verdana Blue can get into the race off her Flat rating of 102 and the ground comes up good, then the Nicky Henderson trained mare has the speed and class to be a factor. Winner of the 2018 Christmas Hurdle at Kempton Park, she is a Grade 1 performer over jumps.
Now aged eight, she still retains plenty of ability as evidenced by her Scottish Champion Hurdle success off a National Hunt mark of 154. Verdana Blue bolted up by seven lengths. She has since been purchased by Michael Tabor of the Coolmore set after a Flat turf debut when fourth in 2019 Sagaro Stakes at Ascot. The daughter of Getaway proved soft ground is no good for her when bidding to defend her Christmas Hurdle crown and fourth to stable companion Epatante.
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Ebor Handicap Stats & Trends
With a valuable and historic race like the Ebor Handicap, it makes sense to research trends and statistics. There will be a large field declared for the race, so anything that helps you to eliminate some of the horses from contention can only help. While the stats don’t guarantee you will pick out the winner, they do allow you to reach better informed conclusions about the Ebor and who to bet on:
- Most successful horse – Just a single horse in the history of the Ebor Handicap has won it more than once. That was Flint Jack way back in 1922 and 1923.
- Leading jockey – Riding legend Lester Piggott partnered a record five horses to Ebor glory during his stellar career in the saddle. They were Gladness (1958), Primera (1959), Die Hard (1961), Tintagel II (1970) and Jupiter Island (1983).
- Leading trainer – Tom Dawson saddled five winners of the Ebor Handicap between 1844 and 1867. That record stands to this day but, in more recent times, Irish trainers have won three of the last six renewals and five since 2009. It could be worth concentrating on raiders from the Emerald Isle, then.
- Leading owner – Godolphin are one of the few owners down the extensive history of the Ebor to have won it more than once. Sheikh Mohammed’s global breeding operation enjoyed success in the race with Saeed bin Suroor trained pair All The Good (2008) and Willing Foe (2012).
- Age – Three of the last four Ebor winners have been six-year-olds, so concentrating on more experienced horses could prove a wise move. It is also worth bearing in mind that four of the last 10 victors in the Ebor Handicap were five-year-olds. That gives you a good idea of the age profile for this race.
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Ebor Handicap Past Winners
Nine of the last 10 winners of the Ebor carried 9 stone or more around York to victory.The table below has all of those and underneath are the last three results in detail for your reference:
What Happened in 2019?
Mustajeer competed in the Ebor Handicap of 2018 and finished a fine fourth off the same official rating of 108. That mark equated to carrying 3lb less weight on his second attempt at the race for Irish trainer Ger Lyons. Sent off at half the odds, 16/1, he was returned at the previous year, the six-year-old Medicean gelding was held up in midfield and started marking headway three furlongs from the finish.
Once Mustajeer began chasing the leaders two out, he soon challenged and was ridden to take things up approaching the last. Jockey Colin Keane drove him out as he kept on well for a three-quarters of a length victory over Godolphin’s 25/1 shot Red Galileo. The Saeed bin Suroor trained veteran was half-a-length in front of David Elsworth’s Desert Skyline, who was sent off at the same price. Richard Hannon’s Raymond Tusk, a 16/1 shot, was fourth ahead of Barsanti and True Self with just three lengths covering the first six home in the Ebor.
2018 Ebor Handicap Result
Trainer John Gosden saddled a one-two in the Ebor as Muntahaa defeat stable companion Weekender on the Knavesmire. The five-year-old Dansili gelding raced wide in the early stages under owner Hamdan Al Maktoum’s retained rider Jim Crowley to get him settled before re-joining the field. After travelling well in midfield, he made further progress before the three-furlong marker to track the leaders still on the bit.
Muntahaa, an 11/1 chance, was ridden to take things up approaching the last. He was soon clear and stayed on strongly for a 3¼ lengths victory over 15/2 shot Weekender. Irish raiders Sea The Lion, backed into 9/1, and Mustajeer (a 33/1 outsider) completed the places – just ahead of Roger Charlton’s Blakeney Point (12/1) and Whiskey Sour for Willie Mullins at 6/1.
2017 Ebor Handicap Result
Scottish trainer Iain Jardine’s Nakeeta landed odds of 12/1 in the Ebor Handicap just holding on in a dramatic finish where jockey Callum Rodriguez, taking 5lb off the horse’s back with his claim, dropped his reins close home. After holding the six-year-old Sixties Icon gelding up early on, he took closer order with half-a-mile still to race. Nakeeta tracked the leaders approaching two out, and was then ridden to squeeze through a gap and throw down a challenge.
He was then driven inside the final furlong and kept on well to lead near the finish. Nakeeta landed the Ebor spoils by just a head from Sir Mark Prescott’s 7/1 favourite Flymetothestars. The front pair pulled a couple of lengths clear of Godolphin’s Saeed bin Suroor trained 14/1 shot Natural Scenery in third. Amanda Perrett outsider Arch Villain came fourth at 50/1 with 15/2 chance Magic Circle in fifth for Ralph Beckett.
Key Ebor Handicap Trials
Trials for the Ebor take place up to 12 months before the race, as it isn’t open to younger horses. As this Heritage Handicap is so competitive, you will find that black type races can provide you with clues:
- Melrose Handicap (York) – Hamish
- Jorvik Handicap (York) – Not run
- Copper Horse Handicap (Royal Ascot) – Fujaira Prince
- Grand Cup (Doncaster) – Red Verdon
- John Smith’s Silver Cup (York) – Eagles By Day
- Further Flight Stakes (Newmarket) – 1 August