The York Ebor Festival delivered yet again in 2022, with some of the UK & Ireland’s most recognisable horses, jockeys and trainers taking part in the racecourse’s biggest event of the season.
With 25 fixtures in total on offer, the world-class talent on display across the four-day meeting was exceptional. For those who were keeping a watchful eye on their betting site of choice before and during the festival, let’s dissect the big winners and surprises from the meet’s three Group 1 contests.
Juddmonte International Stakes
Heading into what is arguably the premier race at the Ebor Festival, many felt the winner of the Juddmonte International Stakes was all but a certainty. They were proven correct, with the generational talent that is Baaeed taking home the 1m2f affair with ease. There were a few people who questioned whether or not the William Haggas-trained horse would be able to handle the increase in distance – concerns that were quickly dispelled once the field turned for home down the straight.
The four-year-old won the £1 million race by six-and-a-half-lengths, besting a strong field that included the likes of Mishriff and Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Native Trail. After such a dominant win, attention now turns to Champions Day, which is the meeting tipped to be Baaeed’s last outing before he retires to stud.
If he can get a win in similar fashion to the one at Knavesmire, his legacy will be right up there with the great horse Frankel.
Similar to Baaeed’s performance in the Juddmonte International Stakes, Alpinista’s victory in the 1m3f Yorkshire Oaks was a display of pure brilliance. The Sir Mark Prescott-trained horse’s win at York caps off an incredible 18 months for the five-year-old, which includes seven wins on the trot dating back to April of last year.
“She’s improved every race and I think her success is because she’s straightforward, she goes on more or less any ground, you can hold her up and make the running,” Prescott said.
As a result of her win at York, Alpinista has been introduced as a 6/1 shot to take out the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Paris Longchamp, a Group 1 affair which takes place on the first Sunday of October.
“The Arc has always been the aim,” Prescott said.
“The original intention was to go Coronation Cup and then King George, but it then became Saint-Cloud and here or the Vermeille. Miss Rausing was very keen to come here because Alpinista had not won a Group 1 in England.
“She won’t go for the Vermeille, I think she’ll go straight to the Arc. She’s just good enough to go close. You’ve got a chance, therefore you must go. This was as good as Saint-Cloud, whether it will be good enough for Paris is another thing.”
Alpinista won’t be without her fair share of competition in France however, with Epsom Derby winner Desert Crown and last year’s Arc champion Torquator Tasso just a couple of the number of world-class horses expected to line up alongside her.
In what is the final Group 1 fixture on the festival’s schedule, the Nunthorpe Stakes is a five-furlong sprint open to horses aged two years or older. All eyes were on pre-race favourite Royal Aclaim, whose victories at York and Bath earlier this year ensured she was the bookies’ favourite heading into the race.
It was the ever-improving Highfield Princess’ afternoon however, with the mare surging home to pass The Platinum Queen and win by two-and-a-half lengths – bagging her connections a cool £302,000 as a result. After the five-year-old’s win at York, there are rumours swirling that she could line up at the Breeders’ Cup in Kentucky – and if her performance in the Nunthorpe Stakes is anything to go by – she could be in with a real shot.