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All About the Nunthorpe Stakes

The Nunthorpe Stakes is another feature race of the four-day Ebor Festival held every August at York Racecourse. The event takes its name from the region of Nunthorpe which is located north of York Racecourse. Open to thoroughbreds aged two and over, the Nunthorpe Stakes is a sprint race over five furlongs, which makes it a short and furious contest. It is one of very few races in the United Kingdom that allows juvenile horses to compete against adult contenders, although it is rare that a juvenile triumphs over the more experienced horses.

A Breakdown of the Nunthorpe Stakes

This five furlong sprint is rated the highest race of its length in the world. It is held on a straight portion of turf at York Racecourse, hometo the Yorkshire Oaks, each year. Only group 1 thoroughbreds are eligible to compete in this event.

The minimum age requirement is two years old, and the weight requirement varies based on age and gender. Two-year-olds must carry 8 stones-1 pound (males) or 7st-12lbs (females). Three-year-olds must carry 9st-9lbs or 9st-6lbs, whereas, older horses must carry 9st-11lbs or 9st-8lbs respectively.

Fact file

Location: York Racecourse

Grade: Group 1

Race Type: Flat (Sprint)

Records, & Best Moments of the Race

An early version of the Nunthorpe Stakes was introduced in 1903, however, this was a 'selling race' with a number of low to medium quality horses competing. The winner of the race was auctioned off to spectators and other contenders' connections. In 1922, the race was officially launched in its current format which saw it elevated to a more prestigious status. Today, the Nunthorpe Stakes has a Group 1 status and a purse of over a quarter million which makes it a target for top competitors.


Below are the most current records for the Nunthorpe Stakes (as of 2017).

  • Since the race was established, two horses have achieved the amazing feat of winning three consecutive races of the Nunthorpe Stakes. The first is Tag End who won in 1928, 1929 and 1930. The last is the legendary Sharpo who dominated in 1980, 1981 and 1982.

  • Lester Piggott, with little surprise, holds the record of winning the most races in this event with seven victories. The first was with Right Boy in 1958 and 1959. The last was with Solinus in 1978.

  • The trainer with the most wins (five) in the history of the race is Ossie Bell from Highborn II in 1926 and 1927 to Ipsden in 1937. In the latter part of the century, Jeremy Tree almost matched Bell's record with four wins from Swing Easy in 1971 to Sharpo in 1980, 1981 and 1982.

  • The sprinter with the fastest time of 0:56.16 sec is the 1990 winner Dayjur. This course record remains unchallenged.

Best Moments

As a prestigious race in its own right, the Nunthorpe Stakes has attracted several top-class competitors over the past century. Below are a few of the most compelling moments in its long history (as of 2017).

jockey racing horse
  • The first juvenile to race to victory in the Nunthorpe Stakes was High Treason in 1953. Since then, there have been rare repeat performances, including Lyric Fantasy in 1992 and Kingsgate Native in 2007. Each race made was memorable in its own right as victory from the other horses is often unexpected.

  • 1990's race will not soon be forgotten as Dayjur, ridden by Carson, set a record time at York Racecourse. He was considered a remarkable sprinter with seven wins from eleven starts. The same year he won the Nunthorpe, he also won the Prix de l'Abbaye, Sprint Cup and King's Stand Stakes.

  • A couple of the most thrilling moments of recent history was when no-hoper Sole Power won the 2010 race despite odds of 100/1. A few years after, he raced as the favourite in 2014 only to meet everyone's expectations with another win.