Expect The Unexpected: Eight Ebor Upsets

Yorkshire Ebor Festival

The Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival has had more than its fair share of shocks over the years; with some racing commentators going as far as to describe York’s Knavesmire as the graveyard of Champions.

Here we pick out eight moments over the years that caused favourite backers major heartache on the Knavesmire.

2015 Juddmonte International Stakes – Arabian Queen beats Golden Horn at 50/1

This particular upset on the Knavesmire could perhaps be considered the greatest. The surprise winner Arabian Queen was a 50/1 outsider and seen by many to be purely making up the numbers.

However, punters and experts alike hadn’t factored in the imepact of the soft ground conditions that day. Undr a brilliant ride from three-time Champion Flat Jockey Silvestre De Sousa, Arabian Queen was able to eyeball the 2015 Derby winner Golden Horn up the straight and, despite being headed, dig deep to claim the prize by a small margin.

Frankie Dettori reflected on the performance by saying “of course I am upset, he only just got beaten, but he laboured today”.

2010 Nunthorpe Stakes – Sole Power 100/1

The popular Sole Power became only the second 100/1 winner of a Group One race in Britain since 1970 when he landed in the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes back in 2010.

Many didn’t give Sole Power a chance but, as became his trademark, he quickened up smartly from the back to win decisively ahead of the well-fancied Starspangledbanner.

It proved no fluke either as he went o to win the Nunthorpe again in 2014 as well as becoming a dual winner of the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.

1972 Benson & Hedges Gold Cup (Now Juddmonte International) – Roberto

The legendary Brigadier Gerard went into The Benson & Hedges Gold Cup with a flawless record of 15-0 with the adoring press and public hailing him as possibly the best ever.

However, the forecast procession was to turn rather sour as “The Brigadier” succumbed to the only defeat of his 18 race career!

The 1972 Derby winner Roberto played the villain of the piece as he managed to hold off the challenge from Brigadier Gerard to win by three lengths. Jockey Joe Mercer immediately looked to excuse the shock by saying that his horse was sick and that he simply didn’t have the gas on the day to reel in the winner.

Joe Mercer would later comment, “He was a fantastic horse, a true champion. The only time he was beaten, he was sick!”

2014 Yorkshire Oaks – Tapestry 10/1

Super filly Taghrooda came into the 2014 Yorkshire Oaks with an unblemished record of four wins from four runs, including spectacular wins in both the Epsom Oaks and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.

But as has happened so often at the ‘Graveyard of Champions’, it was a case of another unbeaten record going up in smoke as she was beaten by Tapestry and Ryan Moore.

Her trainer John Gosden was humble in defeat saying “I have absolutely no excuses on the day she was beaten by the better horse”. She would go on to then finish a hugely creditable third in the Prix de l’Arc de Troimphe to Treve before being retired.

2018 Nunthorpe Stakes – 40/1 Alpha Delphini

The race was widely considered a two-horse race between sprinting superstars Battaash and Blue Point. Battaash, had been a hugely impressive winner of the King George at Goodwood earlier in the year, and Blue Point showing his class to win the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot that season.

But it was 40/1 outsider Alpha Delphini who seized the moment and edged out Mabs Cross in a thrilling photo finish.

2006 Ebor Handicap – Mudawin 100/1


Credit: Racing UK

A thrilling renewal that ended with a photo finish between 100/1 outsider Mudawin and Glistening.

To say not many fancied Mudawin’s chances would be an understatement – his jockey, John Egan even remarked, “about two furlongs out I thought I might get placed, but didn’t think I’d get up!”

2017 Nunthorpe Stakes – Marsha defeats Lady Aurelia

It wasn’t so much the starting price that Marsha went off that caused a stir, more the imperious competition she faced. A dual Royal Ascot winner in US speedball Lady Aurelia and the then rising star in the sprint division Battaash.

Both started at near enough odds on prices whilst Marsha was given an outside chance. However, she travelled nicely and held off a strong finishing Lady Aurelia, eventually winning by a nose.

2015 Ebor Handicap – Litigant 33/1


The seven-year-old Litigant proved an unlikely hero on the Saturday of the 2015 Festival. The gelding had not raced for 491 days and was running for the first time under trainer Joe Tuite.

Litigant, who was then under the guidance of the very promising claimer Oisin Murphy, travelled strongly throughout the race and won by a length and a half in front of the Willie Mullins stalwart Wicklow Brave. In crossing the line first Litigant became the oldest horse to win the race since 1979.


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