Acomb Stakes Betting

For 2011, the annual York Ebor Festival held in August has been extended to four full days, finishing for the first time with a weekend date. The £700,000 International Stakes retains its place as the highlight of opening day, preceded by two fine lead-ins—the Group 2 Great Voltigeur worth £140,000 and the Group 3 Acomb Stakes offering a prize purse of £50,000.

The Acomb Stakes is restricted to two-year-old Thoroughbreds that have not won a race before 7th July of that year. It covers a distance of seven furlongs on the left-handed elbow of York Racecourse’s famed Knavesmire turf. All starters carry nine stone even, with an allowance of three pounds for fillies. Penalties are applied to entries that have had success since 7th July, amounting to five pounds for Group 1 or Group 2 winners and three pounds for Group 3 winners.

The very first running of the Acomb Stakes was in 1951, when Alcinus became the inaugural champion. The event was named for an area of York to the northwest of the racecourse and its early backers were Racecall and Eagle Lane. From 1991 Deploy became the title sponsor and the event was run as a conditions race from 1993 through 1997. In 1998, it was reclassified at the Listed level.

Breckenbrough Racing took up sponsorship in 1999-2000, followed by Paradime in 2001-02. Although National Stud claimed the role of title holder in 2004, there was no sponsor in 2003 or 2005. Then, when the Acomb Stakes was promoted to Group 3 status in 2006, Symphony Group came forward to support the event, and they were followed a year later by Tattersalls.

In 2008, the race was abandoned, owing to a waterlogged course. For 2009, the event bore the unwieldy name “Watch The Last 2 Races On Racing UK Acomb Stakes,” and then came on board in 2010 and has been the official sponsor ever since.

Although no horse has the opportunity to appear here twice as a two-year-old, several truly great steeds have used the Acomb Stakes as their maiden victory to launch great careers. Perhaps the greatest of them all was Royal Palace, a bay stallion that won this race in 1966 before going on to capture the 2,000 Guineas Stakes and the Epsom Derby the following year.

Another memorable runner was the 1999 winner King’s Best, schooled by Sir Michael Stoute who called the American-bred stallion “the best miler” he had ever trained. The horse won the 2,000 Guineas in 2000 and seemed headed for a brilliant career, which was ended all too soon by injury.

The leading jockey in the Acomb Stakes is Pat Eddery with four victories. He got his first one aboard Bellotto in 1986 and then followed up with wins atop Torrey Canyon in 1991, Concordial in 1993 and Options Open in 1994. Chasing him now is Kieren Fallon with three successful rides on Comfy in 2001, Palace Episode in 2005 and Walter’s Dream in 2010.

Among trainers, Sir Michael Stoute tops the leaderboard with four triumphs. He was responsible not only for King’s Best and Comfy, but also for Always Fair in 1987 and Aquatic in 1989. Mark Johnston is following on his heels with three winners of his own: Bijou d’Inde in 1995, Bourbonnais in 2002 and Elliots World in 2004.

Favourites have done rather well at the Acomb Stakes since the turn of the new millennium. Hemingway delivered at odds of 8/13 in 2000, and Bourbonnais was worth 5/6. The bookmakers were correct in choosing Rule Of Law in 2003 at 15/8, as well as Big Timer in 2006 at 5/4. The one time they really got it wrong was in 2005 with Regal Royal at 7/4. The bay gelding finished seventh out of eight runners, allowing Palace Episode to make backers happy at 16/1 odds.

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