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Thursday, 26 August 2021

How the 2021 York Ebor Festival Lived up to Expectations yet Again

York’s Ebor Festival is one of the major flat racing events of the year with 28 races spread over four days in August. The meeting includes three Group 1 races, the biggest of which is the Juddmonte International Stakes which takes place on the opening Wednesday. The Yorkshire Oaks is held on Thursday, while the Nunthorpe Stakes is the highlight of Friday’s schedule.

Following the conclusion of this year’s action, we take a closer look at the three big events and how things panned out. 

Juddmonte International Stakes

This year’s race looked all set to be a classic showdown when St Mark's Basilica was installed as the early 4/5 favourite in the odds for horse racing on Paddy Power. However, the three-year-old picked up an injury as was unable to hand trainer Aidan O’Brien a record sixth win in the race. The next top contender in horse racing betting tips was Mishriff, who previously finished third behind St Mark's Basilica in the Eclipse at Sandown. The four-year-old duly obliged, coming in first ahead of Alenquer in second and Love in third.

The Juddmonte International Stakes is a relatively new race, having launched in 1972, but it has produced some of racing’s classic moments. Legendary jockey Lester Piggott won back-to-back races on the American thoroughbred Dahlia in 1974 and 1975, while Sea the Stars’ win in 2009 was one of six Group 1 triumphs he recorded that year. Arguably the most famous win of all came three years later when Frankel broke the record for consecutive European Group 1 wins (eight) with a memorable seven-length victory. 

With so many incredible moments throughout the years, August 2022 could produce some famous wins to add to the rich history of this race.

Yorkshire Oaks 

The Yorkshire Oaks has been run since 1849 and is restricted to fillies and mares aged three years and up. Only three horses have won the race more than once including Enable who was led home by Frankie Dettori in 2017 and 2019. 

Last year's winner, Love, lined up in the Juddmonte this time around paving the way for stablemate Snowfall to romp home in style. The Cazoo Oaks and Irish Oaks winner emerged as the leading three-year-old filly this season and lived up to expectations, handing Aidan O'Brien his sixth winner in this race. 

Nunthorpe Stakes 

Friday’s showpiece race began in its current form 99 years ago and is one of only a handful of events that allows two-year-olds to race against older horses. Battaash won the last two renewals but didn't return for another shot. The gelding was retired just a few weeks ago after failing to win a fifth consecutive King George Qatar Stakes at Goodwood in July. That race was won by Suesa who headed off as the 9/4 favourite in this year's Nunthorpe but could only manage fourth place behind eventual 9/1 winner Winter Power. Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint winner Golden Pal also failed to make an impact coming in seventh. 

All three races are renowned for delivering excitement and 2021 was no exception with some serious talent on display - and plenty of surprises too. If you missed out on the action, make sure you pencil it in your diary for next year.  

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