A month after I left the King Edward VI Grammar School in Chelmsford in 1958, Gladness won the Ebor Handicap at York carrying 9 stone 7 pounds. The race was a much more important race than it is nowadays. In terms of first prize money it ranked ninth among among the season’s races, behind only the King George and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, the Derby, the Oaks, the St Leger, the Two Thousand Guineas, the One Thousand Guineas, the Eclipse Stakes and the Ascot Gold Cup. Gladness won the Ascot Gold Cup and the Goodwood Cup in the same season as her Ebor triumph. In 1959 Primera carried 9 stone to victory in the Ebor and was afterwards fifth in the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe, only a short head and two short necks behind the dead-heat winners Saint Crespin III and Midnight Sun. In those days the Ebor certainly attracted horses of the highest quality.
The Ebor is still a fabulous race and is Europe’s most valuable handicap. There have been many memorable performances over the years. Probably the most popular winner in the last thirty odd years was that of Sea Pigeon who carried 10 stone to victory with Jonjo O’Neill in the saddle in 1979. Amongst the wide margin winners have been the three year olds Sir Montegu in 1976 and the ill fated Kneller in 1988. It takes a good three year old to win the Ebor and in the last twenty six runnings of the race eleven have been won by three year olds. It is usually the late developing, fast improving sort. Aidan O’Brien holds a strong hand with Honolulu and Mahler. But which one will run ? They both hold an entry in the Great Voltigeur Stakes. Tranquil Tiger from the Henry Cecil yard is another three year old with strong claims. The yard last won the race with Tuning in 1998 who became the first female to win since Gladness in 1958. Prior to that Kneller was an impressive three year old winner in 1988 for Henry Cecil. Of the older horses Luca Cumani has two fancied runners in Purple Moon and Samurai Way. Paul Cole has Strategic Mount who won at Ascot last Saturday and goes well on a fast surface, and Roger Charlton has Group Captain who won the November Stakes run at Windsor last season. The field will be limited to twenty runners so some of those mentioned might not get a run. For your race card with the runners and riders go the sporting life.
For those who want to go down memory lane I have collated the winners of the Ebor since 1958 with the three year olds shown in capitals.
1958 Gladness, 1959 Primera, 1960 Persian Road, 1961 Die Hard, 1962 Sostenuto, 1963 PARTHOLON (see my York Spring Meeting Blog), 1964 Proper Pride, 1965 Twelfth Man, 1966 Lomond, 1967 OVALTINE (first sponsorship by Johnny Walker), 1968 ALIGNMENT, 1969 Big Hat, 1970 Tintagel II, 1971 Knotty Pine, 1972 Crazy Rhythm, 1973 Bonne Noel, 1974 Anji (New Sponsor in Terry’s All Gold), 1975 Dakota, 1976 SIR MONTAGU(New Sponsor in Tote who still continue to sponsor), 1977 Move Off, 1978 Totowah, 1979 Sea Pigeon, 1980 Shaftesbury, 1981 PROTECTION RACKET, 1982 Another Sam, 1983 Jupiter Island, 1984 CRAZY, 1985 Western Dancer, 1986 PRIMARY, 1987 Daarkom, 1988 KNELLER, 1989 SAPIENCE, 1990 Further Flight, 1991 DEPOSKI, 1992 Quick Ransom, 1993 Sarawat, 1994 Hasten to Add, 1995 SANMARTINO, 1996 CLERKENWELL, 1997 Far Ahead, 1998 TUNING, 1999 Vicious Circle, 2000 GIVE THE SLIP, 2001 MEDITERRANEAN, 2002 Hugs Dancer, 2003 Saint Alebe, 2004 Mephisto, 2005 Sergeant Cecil and 2006 Mudawin.