Great Voltigeur Stakes Betting

The York Ebor Festival takes place in August each year, offering four days of pageantry, celebrations and great Thoroughbred racing. The centrepiece of opening day is the £700,000 Juddmonte International Stakes, a mile-and-a-quarter Group 1 event for three-year-olds. It is preceded, however, by an almost equally important and slightly older event—the Group 2 Great Voltigeur Stakes worth £140,000.

Covering a distance of one mile and four furlongs, the Great Voltigeur Stakes takes place on the on the left-handed turf of the Knavesmire racecourse. When it was established in 1950, the race was initially known as the Voltigeur Stakes, honouring the Yorkshire-trained stallion that won both the Epsom Derby and the St. Leger Stakes a century earlier. In 1957, the term “Great” was added to its title.

The Great Voltigeur Stakes is open only to three-year-old thoroughbred colts and geldings. They each carry eight stone twelve pounds, with penalties of five pounds and three pounds, respectively, for previous winners of Group 1 and Group 2 races that have been run since 1st January of the that year.

This event serves as a leading trial for the St. Leger Stakes in September. In its 60-year history, the Great Voltigeur Stakes has sent thirteen of its starters on to victory in both races. Premonition was the first in 1953. The most recent double victor was Lucarno in 2007.

Sponsorships have only been awarded for the Great Voltigeur Stakes since 2003. The Daily Telegraph was the first backer, followed by ladbrokes. Since 2010, have taken over the title position, as they became the primary supporter of the entire opening day of the Ebor Festival.

Although each colt or gelding gets only one opportunity to claim victory in the Great Voltigeur Stakes, two trainers have brought five winners apiece to the event. Paddy Prendergast was the first with Blue Sail in 1954, Ragusa in 1963, Ragazzo in 1965, Great Host in 1967 and Hawkberry in 1976. Then, Sir Michael Stoute added a handful of winners of his own, namely Electric in 1982, Sacrament in 1994, Fantastic Light in 1999, Air Marshall in 2000 and Hard Top in 2005.

A single jockey stands head and shoulders above all others in the Great Voltigeur Stakes. With a total of nine careers wins here, Lester Piggott has that honor. He began by riding Pindari to victory in 1959, quickly followed by St. Paddy in 1960 and Ragazzo in 1965. In the next decade, he rode half of all winners—Meadowville in 1970, Athens Wood in 1971, Our Mirage in 1972, Alleged in 1977 and noble Saint in 1979—before finishing up with Prince Bee in 1980.

The Great Voltigeur Stakes is an exceedingly difficult race to handicap. Favourites have succeeded her three times in the past decade, including Bandari at 4/5 in 2002 and Rule Of Law at 11/8 in 2004. The most recent successful favourite was Rewilding, paying 6/4 in 2010.

However, this seeming trend is counterbalanced by a recent spate of spoilers. In 2006, Youmzain won at odds of 12/1, and two years later it was Centennial surprising the field to also pay out at 12/1. Then, just to keep bookmakers and handicappers on their toes, the 13/8 going-in-pick Harbinger lagged far behind as jockey Jimmy Fortune guided his overlooked mount, Monitor Closely, to a four-and-a-half-length victory paying a lovely 28/1.

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