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59 YEARS YOUNG JOHN SMITH’S CUP MEETING RICHEST EVER RUNNING OF FAMOUS YORK RACEDAY

The richest ever running of the famous John Smith’s Cup raceday will see £385,000 on offer for the 59th staging of a day that contains the famous handicap itself, Saturday 14 July. The £200,000 prize money of the feature contest makes the John Smith’s Cup the richest middle distance handicap in Britain.

Named after Britain’s best-selling ale, it is the centrepiece of a seven-race programme that now includes the newly upgraded John Smith’s Silver Cup as a Group Three contest worth £65,000 and the Listed John Smith’s City Walls sprint. In each of the last two years the prize money has risen by nearly £20,000 each season.

The headline contest is the longest continuous commercial sponsorship of a flat race in the country, an arrangement that will now reach at least the Diamond Jubilee of the contest – as the racecourse previously announced a further extension of the deal with Heineken.

With the prospect of hotly contested races matched by the forecast, the decision has been taken to relax the dress code in the County Stand Enclosure for both days. Gentlemen can leave their jackets at home, though a collared shirt and tie is still required.

The opening day on the Friday features the Group Three William Hill Summer Stakes, offering a black type opportunity to the fastest filly down the six furlong course.

One of Europe’s most prestigious and competitive middle-distance heritage handicap contests, Saturday’s renewal of The John Smith’s Cup is contested over the extended one mile and a quarter. The winning owner can look forward to receiving the specially-commissioned Wedgwood challenge trophy.

Fougalle was the first winner of this famous race back in 1960, and since then there have been many dramatic moments, with the race becoming a major betting heat of the summer. In 2017, Ballet Concerto provided trainer Sir Michael Stoute his second success in the race, coming nearly thirty years after Icona landed the spoils in 1989. Jockey, James Doyle, enjoyed a debut win.

One of only two contests to receive such an upgrade, the Group Three John Smith’s Silver Cup continues to be a proving ground for stayers, last year, Rare Rhythm, showed his potential for Charlie Appleby in the Godolphin colours before winning at an even higher level in Dubai.

The sprinters have their say in the Listed John Smith’s City Walls over five furlongs and the 2016 winner, Marsha, went on to multiple success at Group One level, including the Coolmore Nunthorpe, before going into the record books when she was sold to become a broodmare.

Always one of the big days of the year, this event has become a showcase for ‘Yorkshire’s Finest’, and sees John Smith’s treasuring its Yorkshire roots with a full Yorkshire menu of locally-sourced and home-made food. In addition, there will be a number of cask ales available at the racecourse, thanks to collaboration with fellow Yorkshire brewers, Theakston’s.

Wider Yorkshire sporting and physical prowess will be on show as the crew and craft of team Row4Victory will be by the Frankel statue; these four fearless friends will be rowing 3,000 nautical miles across the Atlantic, in what is described as the ‘World’s toughest endurance race’.

The highlight on Friday, The William Hill Summer Stakes, is a Group Three sprint contest over six furlongs for fillies and mares, has seen its purse increase to £65,000. Last year’s race was won by Mystic Dawn for Newmarket trainer, David Simcock.

Friday sees a number of other long-standing supporters of the Knavesmire return with both Jigsaw Sports Branding and Acturis back in attendance; alongside the accountancy firm responsible for audit matters at the track, Garbutt + Elliott. Once again, it is an “ITM Friday” as the Irish organisation responsible for promoting bloodstock sales from the emerald isle back a five furlong handicap. The final race of Friday gives apprentice riders their chance and welcomes a new supporter in Gough & Kelly, a Yorkshire firm specialising in security products and services for schools or hospitals amongst other sites.

The two days of racing get underway with an interesting novice contest over the unusual distance of five and a half furlongs. It is among the twenty-one contests backed by the European Breeders’ Fund.
Catering for broad musical tastes, both days offer the summer vibe of a steel band or Murphy’s Marbles brand of foot-stomping Irish tunes. Saturday also hosts Paradise Lane performing their melodic set of popular covers on the bandstand as the last race crosses the line.

The newly installed Giant Screen overlooking the Roberto Lawn will continue to offer uninterrupted coverage of the FIFA World Cup; providing a home to Wimbledon coverage on Friday and earlier on Saturday.

A number of other giant screens will enable racegoers to enjoy even more of the action on both days, along with racing from Newmarket’s July Meeting and Ascot. The popular punters’ panel held prior to racing on the winners’ podium will preview the card on both days.

Two year old contests at the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival promise much

The famous two year old contests at the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival often unearth future equine greats and the 2018 contests promise much.

At the first entries stage, the Group Two Al Basti Equiworld Gimcrack includes a brace of Royal Ascot winners; as the impressive Calyx hopes to follow up success in the Coventry Stakes so overcoming the Windsor Castle victor, Soldiers Call. Both sets of silks, Juddmonte and Clipper Logistics, will be familiar to regular racegoers as will those carried by Rathbone, whose owner, Mrs Angie Bailey, landed this £225,000 race with Astaire in 2013.

Some sixteen horses from four different Yorkshire yards sit alongside a dozen possible contestants from Ireland, including eight from the powerful Coolmore operation in County Tipperary.

The winning owner on Friday 24th August earns the unusual opportunity of the chance to address the Gimcrack Dinner, being staged at York in December for the 248th time this year.

Amongst the fillies entered in the Group Two Sky Bet Lowther, it could again be a showdown between winners at the Royal Meeting. The Malton yard of John Quinn will be hoping that Signora Cabello can continue her fine form of successive wins in the Listed Marygate on the Knavesmire followed by the Group Two Queen Mary in Berkshire; with Main Edition seeking to continue her improvement after Group Three success for Middleham handler, Mark Johnston. Successful in France in Group company, Little Kim, offers supporters of another Yorkshire yard, that of Karl Burke, hope of taking the £225,000 prize.

Appropriately run as part of Ladies Day at the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival, the Sky Bet Lowther is set to be the opening contest of Thursday 23 August.

VARIAN SEEKS FRESH JOHN SMITH’S CUP GLORY

TRAINER Roger Varian will bid to land a second John Smith’s Cup when Appeared runs in the £200,000 heritage handicap at York on Saturday.

Farraaj gave Newmarket-based Varian victory in the 55th renewal of the famous race staged over an extended mile and a quarter, back in 2014

The 59th running of the John Smith’s Cup will see Varian rely on the Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum-owned, Appeared.

The son of Dubawi has run just once so far in 2018 when a solid fourth in the Duke Of Edinburgh Handicap at Royal Ascot

Dash Of Spice won on that occasion and is the market leader for this weekend’s feature on the Knavesmire.

This time around Varian’s charge will benefit from a 5lb ‘pull’ in the weights with that rival.

Appeared has done most of his recent running over a mile and a half with one of his three career victories coming at York back in May 2016.

But connections are hopeful that the drop down in trip will not be an inconvenience to the six-year-old.

Varian said: “Appeared ran a blinder to finish fourth in the Duke Of Edinburgh Handicap at Royal Ascot and he has come out of the race in fine form.

“He loves fast ground and won well at York a couple of seasons ago. His strong travelling style of running suggests he is worth a try at this shorter trip, particularly as it is a course where they often get racing a long way from home.

“Although he doesn’t look to have masses in hand (from the handicapper), he remains lightly raced for his age and the 5lb pull with Dash Of Spice ought to bring them closer together.

“York has put on a fantastic prize fund for the race and Appeared looks to hold a fighting chance in what seems a typically-competitive renewal. I am very much looking forward to running him”

York’s two-day meeting starts at 2.05pm on Friday afternoon. The highlight of a seven-race card is the Group 3 Summer Stakes..