Trainer No Brainers: The Very Best At York And The Ebor Festival

The racing at York is going to be extremely competitive this week, especially if you are a fan of handicap betting like myself. Rather than trying to pinpoint the single winner of a race (which is going to be very difficult in most cases) it may be more helpful to attempt to narrow the fields down to shortlists of runners that should go well.

After showcasing Roger Charlton’s record in class 2 Newbury handicaps on Saturday I’m going to once again concentrate largely on course records and meeting records here...

First let's see the 20 trainers with the best win percentage (left) and P&L (right) at York since 2009:

We can get more specific again by looking at trainer records in just August since 2009 to see their records at this meeting:

To summarise the above information, the following trainers are of particular interest at York in general:

Charlie Fellowes
William Haggas
Dean Ivory
David Griffiths
Ron Harris
Hugo Palmer
Michael Dods
Mick Hammond
Hughie Morrison
Paul Midgely

And the trainers to pay particular attention to in handicaps at the Ebor Festival are:

Tim Easterby*
Michael Dods*
John Best
Brian Ellison
Nigel Tinkler
Hughie Morrison
Hugo Palmer*
Eve Johnson Houghton
Tony Martin*

Those marked with an * have 3 or more wins to their name so could be more reliable.

So now let’s look at the handicaps over the first two days of the Ebor Festival and see where these trainers have entries:


1.45pm - 5.5f

Michael Dods - Jawwaal
William Haggas - Aplomb
Tim Easterby - Hyperfocus & Copper Knight

Jawwaal is unbeaten this season and his success at Doncaster on seasonal debut has been well advertised since. He was well drawn when winning at Ascot and has been hit with an 8lb rise in the weights.

Aplomb may find this 5.5f trip perfect having shown decent form over 5f and 6f this season but he’d want some rain to be seen at his absolute best.

The problem with both those runners is the pace bias at York which tends to favour those up with the pace, especially at shorter distances. Tim Easterby’s pair are both likely to be near the pace. Hyperfocus ran only on Sunday and is well handicapped but he’s another who would want a fair bit of rain. If that rain doesn’t arrive Copper Knight could be the most interesting of the quartet. He hasn’t been at his absolute best this season but he hasn’t been running badly either and he’s won four of his eleven starts here, including one off this mark.

3.45pm - 2m

John Best - Eddystone Rock

He has run poorly in both starts this season but is now 1lb lower than when winning this last year. He’s two from three here and the only defeat was a sixth placed finish in the John Smiths Cup in 2017. This looks a hot renewal of this race but if the return to the Knavesmire sparks a return to form he’s capable of going well at a nice price.

4.20pm - 5f

William Haggas - Dancin Inthestreet & Pink Sands
Nigel Tinkler - Princess Power

Dancin Inthestreet is undoubtedly a well handicapped horse on several bits of form this season but her run style is definitely going to mean she’ll have to be very handicapped to win this.

Pink Sands is likely to be much closer to the pace and has never run a bad race. She’ll probably appreciate the return to a more speed favouring track and after just four starts, we have almost certainly not seen the best of her.

Princess Power ran below par on Tuesday at Beverley and may end up a non runner here. She often runs well in defeat but probably wouldn’t be favoured by this speed test.

4.50pm - 6f

Nigel Tinkler - Cobweb Corner
Eve Johnson Houghton - Soldier Lions & The Princes Poet

Cobweb Corner ran well in a similar type of contest last time out and should be near the speed but this is almost certainly tougher than his last race so he’ll have to improve.

Soldier Lions has been 2nd on both starts this season but the form of his last race has had a few knocks. The Princes Poet also seems to have a lot to find but there are so many unknowns in a race of this nature that it wouldn’t be a shock if something suddenly improves.


2.45pm - 1m

William Haggas - Montatham

This looks a really hot contest but Montatham is still improving and hopefully there will be enough juice in the ground for him to run after he was withdrawn from the Golden Mile at Goodwood due to fast ground.

Low draws are favoured over this distance so stall 2 is a positive and after this last win at Sandown the 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 7th have all come out and won since.

4.20pm - 7f

William Haggas - Mayaas

Improved on his 2nd start at Ascot, looking very much as if a step up in trip to this 7f would suit. He beat Minzaal that day who has come out and won impressively at Salisbury (well fancied for Friday’s Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes).

4.50pm - 7f

William Haggas - Lawahed
Tim Easterby - Excellent Times
Charlie Fellowes - Lady Of Aran

Lawahed is likely to be a warm favourite here on what could be a good day for William Haggas. She’s well bred and group 1 entered and clearly expected to be better than a rating of 85. That rating is more than deserved from her 3 starts so far but she won’t get an easy lead like last time.

Excellent Times won this at 66/1 last year which will have strongly contributed to Tim Easterby’s P&L in handicaps at this fixture. Has largely struggled since but has run well in three out of five course starts.

Lady Or Aran doesn’t always find as much as looks likely and is probably more consistent on the all weather. She doesn’t look brilliantly handicapped.


1.45pm - 1m4f

Tim Easterby - Dark Jedi

4.15pm - 1m2.5f

William Haggas - First Kingdom

4.50pm - 1m

William Haggas - Grand Rock & Cold Front & Johan
Michael Dods - Brunch


2.25pm - 1m6f

William Haggas - Favorite Moon & A Star Above
Hughie Morrison - Kipps
Hugo Palmer - Eastern Sheriff
Tim Easterby - Fishable

3.40pm - 1m6f

William Haggas - Pablo Escobar & Monica Sheriff
Charlie Fellowes - Jeremiah
Tim Easterby - Glencadam Glory

4.40pm - 1m2.5f

William Haggas - Sinjaari
Tim Easterby - Aasheq
Mick Hammond - Irv

5.10 - 5f

Tim Easterby - Sunday Sovereign

It is by no means a sure thing that the selected trainers are the most likely winners of the races above but they have been amongst those with the best previous records at the course and at this meeting so it will be interesting to see how they get on.

It's a shame that more of the highlighted trainers haven't had runners here this year but we'll hopefully see them with entries at the remaining York fixtures this season.

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3 replies
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  2. geoff gibson
    geoff gibson says:

    nice write up, bred not bread, will be interesting to see how they run, like horses that have run well at York before as a lot of horses do not take to it.

    • samdarby
      samdarby says:

      Thanks Geoff,

      Yes it will be interesting to see how it plays out. As I said in the article, I’d have preferred to see a wider spread of trainers with entries but maybe we’ll see that in the last two days.

      William Haggas seems to have a strong hand (yet again).

      It’s odd that such a seemingly ordinary course could be one for course specialists but I agree it’s one that horses either seem to love or hate. The drainage works they carried out a while back seem to have made it slightly unpredictable so good previous runs at the Knavesmire are always a plus.

  3. sondrio2
    sondrio2 says:

    Thanks for this Sam, im sitting about even at this half way point, which considering the amount of hours ive ploughed in is a bit disappointing but festivals always seem to be a challange for me, but on the positve side ive lost nowt so onwards and upwards.

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