Richest race moves to end of week to provide climax to city's Ebor Festival

Tom Palmer

ONE of the richest races in European horse racing is to be moved from its traditional opening spot at the four-day Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival, to the final Saturday to attract the biggest possible crowd.

From next August the Totesport Ebor Handicap at York Racecourse – Europe’s richest race of its type – will be run on the final day.

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Traditionally one of the biggest betting races in the calendar, it always attracted huge crowds to Knavesmire on the Wednesday but now organisers are hoping the switch to Saturday will bring new people to racing.

The 2011 festival will start on Wednesday, August 17 with the Juddmonte International, the focal point of the open- ing day.

Ladies Day is on August 18 and will feature the Darley Yorkshire Oaks and Friday’s main event is the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes. All three are Group 1 races, the pinnacle of the sport.

The switch is part of a concerted move by all within racing to make the best use of Saturday fixtures.

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The switch of the Ebor has been mooted for some time, in part to provide a “festival Saturday” between the last day of the Glorious Goodwood meeting in July and the Ladbrokes St Leger Festival at Doncaster in September.

York Racecourse chairman Nicholas Wrigley said: “We believe this is a positive move for York and for racing.

“To have the richest flat handicap in Europe on a Saturday should generate huge interest both on course, on television and for the betting industry,” he added.