David McCor­mack sup­plies a wealth of Ebor in­for­ma­tion

David Cor­mack looks at one of the sea­son’s big­gest hand­i­caps

Racing Ahead - - CONTENTS -

The Ebor Hand­i­cap is the cen­tre­piece of York’s four-day Au­gust meet­ing and is in­vari­ably one of the tough­est races of the year for pun­ters to solve, as be­fits Europe’s most richly en­dowed hand­i­cap.

I’ve taken a look at the last 10 re­newals of the race when run at York (I’ve ex­cluded the New­bury run­ning in 2008 so the anal­y­sis is for York re­newals from 2007 to 2017) to try and iden­tify pat­terns that may help to nar­row down the field and help you high­light those horses run­ning this year whose pro­files most closely match those of the most re­cently suc­cess­ful.

Be­fore go­ing on I should point out that the sam­ple size (10 races in­volv­ing 188 horses) is far too small to de­rive any sta­tis­ti­cally mean­ing­ful con­clu­sions and, even if it did, there is of course no guar­an­tee that the fu­ture will re­sem­ble the past. But it is pos­si­ble, I be­lieve, to develop some ideas about what may have been the most in­flu­en­tial fac­tors and to ex­am­ine an­gles that have proven prof­itable in the past with a view to un­der­stand­ing the nature of this par­tic­u­lar race.


Let’s start then by look­ing at the bet­ting mar­ket. In the table below (which I hope is largely self-ex­plana­tory) I’ve looked at five dif­fer­ent price bands which yield a sim­i­lar num­ber of run­ners in each range. Ar­eas which are marked in green or red are val­ues that pro­vide pos­i­tive or neg­a­tive en­cour­age­ment (green or red re­spec­tively).

Back­ing those at the head of the mar­ket (start­ing price of <10/1) has been an un­prof­itable strat­egy. Although the 37 run­ners whose start­ing price fell within that range have yielded three win­ners the re­sul­tant 8.1% win prob­a­bil­ity is lower than the av­er­age ex­pected prob­a­bil­ity sug­gested by the start­ing prices of this sub­set. How­ever, with three win­ners, horses start­ing at less than 10/1 should not be com­pletely ig­nored.

The 10/1 to 14/1 group­ing have per­formed pretty well, also yield­ing three win­ners but, ob­vi­ously, at bet­ter prices. In fact this group broke even, sug­gest­ing that run­ners in this price range are def­i­nitely wor­thy of scru­tiny.

16/1 to 20/1 was not so good, yield­ing a loss of 20 pts (based on 1pt level stake on each run­ner).

The eye-catch­ing group here is the horses that set off with an SP of be­tween 22/1 and 33/1 in­clu­sive. They yielded as many win­ners as the group con­tain­ing the horses that started less than 10/1 with a win­ning prob­a­bil­ity of al­most dou­ble that of their av­er­age mar­ket ex­pec­ta­tion. A healthy 41pts profit (bet­ting to 1pt win level stakes) and a profit against turnover per-

cen­t­age of 91.1% in­di­cate that this price range is one to take very se­ri­ously in­deed.

The 24 horses start­ing at longer odds than 33/1 did not pro­vide a sin­gle win­ner and only man­aged 3 places (I’ve used first four fin­ish to de­note a placed ef­fort although it is likely that you’ll find a book­maker of­fer­ing place odds on the first five in the Ebor if you look around). How­ever, given that there have been sev­eral win­ners at >20/1 I’d be re­luc­tant to com­pletely write off the pos­si­bil­ity of a com­plete out­sider pop­ping up at some stage.


Plenty four year olds have been prom­i­nent in the mar­ket and two of them (Tiger Cliff and Pur­ple Moon) have won but they are by some dis­tance the most nu­mer­i­cally rep­re­sented group, ac­count­ing for al­most 40% of the run­ners. Those two win­ners were both short prices and the over­all prof­itabil­ity of the four year old group is poor. Putting a line through them would have taken plenty of fan­cied run­ners out of the equa­tion for you and would have been a good strat­egy.

Five, six and seven year olds, con­versely, have a strong record. Back­ing any of those ages blindly would have re­sulted in good prof­its. To­gether, they ac­count for eight of the 10 win­ners and have yielded 58% profit on turnover. They are an age group­ing to fo­cus strongly on when mak­ing your selec­tions.

10 horses aged eight and over have had a go and only one (the eight year old Arch Vil­lain in 2017) has made the frame so they need treat­ing with cau­tion.

The three year olds are in­ter­est­ing. Four of them have run and three of those were trained by Ai­dan O’Brien, a trainer who can of­ten have a sur­feit of un­ex­posed young stay­ers in his yard. All three of O’Brien’s three year olds have run well and two, Honolulu in 2007 and Changin­gofthe­guard in 2009, fin­ished sec­ond, both beaten nar­rowly. Go­ing fur­ther back in time, he won it with a three year old, Mediter­ranean, in 2001 so if O’Brien did de­cide to send a three year old over to con­test this no­tice should be taken.


The Ebor draw is al­ways sub­ject of great de­bate and stroking of chins.

Di­vid­ing the run­ners into four group­ings shows that the prospects of those drawn five and lower have been stark. Not a sin­gle win­ner has emerged from the group of 50 run­ners drawn five and below.

Those drawn six to 10 in­clu­sive have fared bet­ter due to Lit­i­gant’s 33/1 suc­cess from stall six in 2015 and Moyenne Cor­niche’s 25/1 tri­umph from the 10 stall in 2011. Those suc­cesses en­sure a prof­itable out­come for this range.

The next sub­set, those drawn 11 to 15 in­clu­sive, have been on a re­ally hot streak. Those five stall po­si­tions have yielded seven of the 10 win­ners along with an ex­tremely healthy profit from back­ing them blindly.

Things take a down­turn again once

we get to the higher draws. Those drawn 16 and higher are slightly less well nu­mer­i­cally rep­re­sented than the other three groups but have only man­aged one win­ner, Di­rar, at 14/1 from stall 20 in 2010.

The clear mes­sage is to con­cen­trate on those drawn in the mid­dle (stalls six to 15 in­clu­sive).


42% of the run­ners car­ried be­tween 9st and 9st 4lbs in­clu­sive but this weight group­ing pro­vided no fewer than eight of the 10 win­ners and half of all the placed horses.

Al­ter­nately, car­ry­ing 9st 5lbs and higher seems to be enough to stop those higher in the hand­i­cap (plenty good, fan­cied run­ners among them). 63 have tried to carry those weights to vic­tory and none have suc­ceeded in achiev­ing a win, or even a run­ners up slot, with four 3rd places and four 4th place fin­ishes the best they could muster.

Those lower in the weights (<9st) have yielded a small profit cour­tesy of two win­ners, Se­senta in 2009 and Moyenne Cor­niche in 2011.


One fea­ture of the past ten re­newals has been the suc­cess en­joyed by claim­ing jock­eys. Five of the last 10 win­ners have been rid­den by claimers, four of whom claimed 5lbs with the other claim­ing 3lbs. Don’t ig­nore 7lb claimers ei­ther, they’ve rid­den three placed horses from only five starts, in­clud­ing two run­ners up.

Back­ing the 28 run­ners who have been rid­den by a claimer would have yielded an im­pres­sive 66.5pts profit along with that high strike rate so the clear mes­sage is to give such run­ners plenty at­ten­tion when you are look­ing to nar­row the field down.


While those who have had some weight taken off their backs cour­tesy of a claimer have done well, the same is not true of those who have been bur­dened with a penalty (ad­di­tional weight ap­plied if a horse has won cer­tain races af­ter the orig­i­nal Ebor weights have been an­nounced). 22 run­ners have car­ried a penalty and only one, Pur­ple Moon, man­aged to defy the ex­tra bur­den to win. They can be ap­peal­ing to the mar­ket as that penalty usu­ally im­plies good re­cent form and plenty have started in the top half dozen in the bet­ting so they are a use­ful cat­e­gory to dis­count from cal­cu­la­tions


Ir­ish train­ers are to be feared in the Ebor. From only 27 run­ners they’ve won four times. Not only that their run­ners have a 44% strike rate at get­ting into the frame, with 12 of the 27 placed in the first four and nearly 30% of them fin­ish­ing ei­ther 1st or 2nd. Apart from the well backed Heart­break City the Ir­ish win­ners have all started at good dou­ble fig­ure prices re­sult­ing in a very healthy profit from blindly back­ing ev­ery Ir­ish vis­i­tor.


As stated at the out­set, 10 races is a small sam­ple to go on and there are no guar­an­tees that the pat­terns in the fu­ture will be the same as those that have oc­curred in the past. There is a strong el­e­ment of ‘back-fit­ting’ in the type of anal­y­sis I’ve con­ducted above but hope­fully there is a log­i­cal ex­pla­na­tion sup­port­ing the pat­terns seen in most of the vari­ables ex­plored and I think they are all worth at least bear-

ing in mind when com­plet­ing your Ebor bet se­lec­tion (s).

I would cer­tainly be pay­ing close at­ten­tion to the draw and would be avoid­ing those in stalls one to five. I’d also be look­ing to tread war­ily with four-year-olds and would look out­side that age group and would also swerve those aged eight and above.

Horses rid­den by claimers are wor­thy of spe­cial note while avoid­ing horses run­ning with a penalty has been a good strat­egy.

The weight range be­tween and in­clud­ing 9st to 9st 4lb seems to be a sweet spot for this race while any more weight seems to be a dif­fi­cult bur­den to over­come.

Horses can win from any price range and the mar­ket lead­ers do not have the race to them­selves by any means. Don’t be put off if your se­lec­tion ap­pears to be unloved in the mar­ket and if you fancy a short one at a sin­gle fig­ure price make sure that you are cer­tain it has plenty go­ing for it as they are gen­er­ally un­prof­itable.

My sug­ges­tion would be to ap­ply the fol­low­ing cri­te­ria (easy to ap­ply from your pa­per or race­card within sec­onds)

Drawn 6 to 15 inc. Age 5 to 7 year olds inc. Weight 9st to 9st 4lb inc. Run­ning with­out a penalty

This strat­egy would have in­volved back­ing just un­der two horses each year (to­tal 18 bets) but would have yielded five win­ners for a sub­stan­tial profit (at 1pt win level stakes) of 71.5 pts and a strike rate of just shy of 28%.

Three of the five in that group who were rid­den by a claimer won as did two of the four Ir­ish trained rep­re­sen­ta­tives so if you were look­ing to be even more se­lec­tive only back­ing claimer rid­den or Ir­ish trained run­ners from our 27 would have re­duced the num­ber of bets to seven of which three would have been win­ners.

For the su­per-se­lec­tive among you, only back­ing Ir­ish trained AND claimer rid­den from the 27 run­ners in our fil­tered list would have meant only three bets, all three of whom would have won.

We could hardly ex­pect to sus­tain those type of re­turns over a longer pe­riod but I’d highly rec­om­mend hav­ing at least some of those strong stats on­side for the 2018 re­newal of York’s land­mark hand­i­cap.

Oceane beats Na­keeta in the 2016 Ebor

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