York Racecourse is probably the best turf track in the country. In terms of its layout, quality and even the grass cover, there arguably isn’t a better course anywhere around.
York is the home of various Group 1’s and a host of important Group 2’s, including important Classic trials. The track is turf, left-handed, around two miles around with a long five-furlong straight after the bend.
Races over five and six furlongs are run on the straight course, while seven-furlong events start from the chute and involve a slight bend.
York is essentially flat and fair, but can be surprisingly testing in bad weather. When the ground gets soft it can take some getting, much the same as at other flat tracks such as Haydock and Doncaster.
York Course Draw Bias Overview
As with so many turf tracks, its pace all the way at York. We cannot stress this enough; you don’t win races by giving away head starts. This is as true with horse racing as it is with your kids’ sports day.
Things change slightly on that front when it comes to certain other factors creeping in. In soft ground, stamina kicks in as you’d expect. We also tend to remember all the big Saturday handicaps featuring 20 runners and a suicidal pace, factors that often see hold-up horses bursting through to win.
Generally, you need to be somewhere near the front end to stand a chance. We all remember Battaash winning the 2019 Nunthorpe Stakes. Jim Crowley kept him at the business end of the race before taking over as early as the half-way point. From there, he bound away and broke the track record.
Use the pace cleverly alongside any draw bias which we detail below. Remember one thing also; runners often jink to the left shortly before the line at York. This is because they see the white rail ahead of them as the turn comes very quickly after the finish.
5 Furlongs at York
If you’re looking for a Nunthorpe Stakes draw bias, you may struggle to find one. In the handicaps however, low numbers are slightly favoured on better ground and higher numbers are best on soft ground.
As long as there is pace across the track however, there is unlikely to be a severe draw bias over the minimum trip and we wouldn’t be against our horse coming down the middle.
6 Furlongs at York
Six furlongs along the straight track is the trip over which you’ll see certain big handicaps and top juvenile races at York, most notably the Gimcrack Stakes.
High numbers are generally fine, as is the middle. It’s not usually the case that they go hard against the far rail which gives low numbers somewhat of a disadvantage, but it’s not huge. Once more, pace is key and it may be hard to come from the back of the pack from any draw unless the ground goes soft.
7 Furlongs at York
There aren’t a whole load of races over seven furlongs at York, but there is a Group 2 and a Group 3 over the trip so it remains of great importance.
The strange thing about seven-furlong races at York is that, despite the runners needing to take a left turn, the low draw near the rail isn’t always best.
They often come down the middle or even the near side when hitting the straight which tends to make those drawn high and staying out of trouble the ones to concentrate on. Pace, as always, is the main factor to consider.
1 Mile at York
The one-mile start at York sees runners take a left turn into the bend after less than three furlongs, meaning the low draw is naturally favoured.
You don’t want to be forced wide getting into the straight and part of achieving that is getting a good start, ideally from a draw near the rail.
1 Mile, 2 Furlongs at York
There has never been much of a Dante Stakes draw bias or a Juddmonte International draw bias over this trip, largely because they don’t attract massive fields.
If the ground gets soft, which it can especially for the Dante, the runners often come down the middle or the stands side anyway once they get into the straight.
In good conditions, with a large field in a handicap, a low draw can be as small advantage. If there aren’t too many challengers and they aren’t cutting each other’s throats up front, pace is once again important.
1m 4f and 1m 6f at York
There’s no real Yorkshire Oaks draw bias, nor is there a strong Ebor draw bias. The former race, much like the Great Voltigeur, comes over the 1m 4f trip while the famous Ebor Handicap and the Yorkshire Cup come over 1m 6f.
There is more than enough time on such a fair and wide track for runners to get into position over these trips that the draw isn’t crucial. We’d still prefer those laying up with the pace to those coming from the back.