Watching the Ebor, I race I love, had me thinking about which Handicap race (FLAT!!) was the ‘best’.
My personal favourites include the Lincoln, as it ushers in (or used to!) the start of the flat season proper. In 1984 I had a nice touch on Saving Mercy, having compiled a ‘handicap’ for a Sporting Life competition. I lost the competition but my handicap rating for Saving Mercy and the official mark were so far apart that she looked thrown in, as indeed subsequent events proved.
I also love some of the big sprints, Stewards Cup, Wokingham, Ayr Gold Cup, etc. Other favs include the Hunt Cup and the Northumberland Plate
The Ebor ranks highly but the best one, for me, is the Magnet Cup. Always held in the height of summer, on the best racecourse in the country, with big fields, talking horses, huge gambles and an annual draw conundrum. In short it has all the ingredients of the perfect handicap.
I don’t tend to bet on them but they are hugely entertaining and their value to UK racing is massive.
I’d say the best h’caps are the ones which produce results that show the principals as being much further ahead of the handicapper than is generally realised and most of those take place in the first half of the season and usually by the middle of July.
The John Smith’s Cup usually takes a bit of beating in that respect.