The Yorkshire Oaks is part of the Ebor Festival held annually at York Racecourse, and is currently the highest rated race in Europe for female thoroughbreds. The Festival runs over four days every August with the Yorkshire Oaks staged on the second day. This race is one of three in the Breeders' Cup Challenge Series hosted by York Racecourse which includes the Juddmonte International and Coolmore Nunthorpe. This prestigious event is open only to Group 1 thoroughbreds aged three or older, and it extends over nearly a mile and a half of turf. The purse has stood at over £300,000 since 2009 presenting a top prize that has successfully attracted top competitors each year.
This event is run on the York Racecourse on the second day of the Festival. The course is left-handed requiring the horses to turn left twice before entering the home straight. The race itself stretches across 1 mile, 3 furlongs and 188 yards of turf.
It is open to Group 1 female thoroughbreds that are at least three years of age. The weight requirement varies based on age with three-year-old horses carrying 8 stones -12 pounds and older horses carrying 9st-7lb.
location: York Racecourse
grade: Group 1 Fillies and Mares only
race type: Flat
When the Yorkshire Oaks was inaugurated in 1849, it was initially established as a race for three-year-old fillies exclusively. It wasn't until 1991 that older mares were allowed to enter the race. Fillies and mares contending in the Yorkshire Oaks frequently precede their entry with a performance in the Epsom Oaks Stakes and/or the Irish Oaks.
The Yorkshire Oaks, traditionally held after the Epsom and Irish Oaks, provides top fillies another chance to prove their mettle when competing against a Group 1 field. Below are a few of the records (as of 2017) .
Only two thoroughbreds have claimed double wins since the race expanded to include older horses in 1991. Only Royale set the precedent by winning in 1993 and 1994. Nearly a decade later, Islington won both the 2002 and 2003 races.
The single most successful jockey to compete is Fred Archer - a legend in his own right with a career record of 2,748 wins over twelve years. He dominated the Yorkshire Oaks in his era with eight winners from Spinaway in 1875 to Philosophy in 1886.
Two trainers share the record for most wins with nine victories apiece. The first is Matthew Dawson who won from Leonie in 1868 to Clochette in 1884. Sir Michael Stoute won from Fair Salinia in 1978 to Quiff in 2004.
1988's winner, Diminuendo, set a new course record when she crossed the finish with a time of 2m: 25.79sec. Lush Lashes, the winner at Newmarket in 2008, narrowly bested that with a time of 2m: 25.11sec.
Since it was first won by Ellen Middleton in 1849, there have been several top competitors that have left a lasting impression on the history of the Yorkshire Oaks (as of 2017) .
Enable is arguably the best filly to run in the history of the race with five Group 1 victories in 2017 including the Epsom Oaks, Irish Oaks, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Yorkshire Oaks and Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. Her dominating performance in the Yorkshire Oaks will certainly be remembered by the racing world for many years to come.
Two fillies, ridden by the late champion jockey Fred Archer, won the 1000 Guineas and Epsom Oaks before also taking the Yorkshire Oaks. The first was Spinaway in 1875 followed four years later by Wheel of Fortune in 1879. As a part of this legendary jockey's career, these victories made for some of the most memorable moments in the early history of the race.
Islington's double win is still remembered by racing fans as one of the most exciting moments in the history of the race. In 2002, the filly won by a comfortable five lengths. Then, 2003's race thrilled the crowd as Islington managed to make history with a second win finishing a length ahead of runner-up Ocean Silk.