John Smith’s Cup Stats and Trends

Recognised as the premier track in the north of England, York Racecourse plays host to a selection of the most anticipated contests of the season. The three Group 1s of the Juddmonte International, the Yorkshire Oaks, and the Nunthorpe Stakes top the bill from a class perspective. But the Knavesmire also provides the stage for top-class handicapping action, including the Ebor of August, and this event, which takes place in July each year.

First run in 1960 and known as the Magnet Cup until 1998, the John Smith’s Cup is run over a trip of 1m2f and is open to runners aged three years and older. A Class 2 affair, the race offers £200,000 in total prize money (2024). Invariably attracting a maximum field of 22, the race presents a tricky puzzle for punters. Here, we look back at the 24 editions between 2000 and 2023 and pick out a selection of stats and trends which may help zero in on the winner.

Age of Winner

John Smith's Cup Age of Winner

2016 champ, Educate, entered the record books as the oldest winner in the history of the race when coming home in front at seven years of age. Overall the younger legs have fared best, with four years of age appearing to be the sweet spot – 50% of the winners in our sample falling into that age bracket.


John Smith's Cup Weight Carried by Winner

There is no obvious trend in evidence regarding the weight carried, suggesting the race isn’t particularly vulnerable to a runner sneaking in at the foot of the weights. The fact that only one winner carried less than 8st6lb may also be a result of the race regularly being oversubscribed – meaning those due to carry a low weight don’t make the cut. Overall 16 of 24 winners (66.67%) carried between 8st8lb and 9st5lb.

Rating of Winner

John Smith's Cup Rating of Winner

In common with many of the UK’s leading handicaps, the quality of the John Smith’s Cup appears to be increasing with time – the average rating of the winner rising by around 8 points between 2000 and 2023. Between 2000 and 2011, five winners had a 100+ rating. Between 2012 and 2024, that number had climbed to eight.

The Draw

John Smith's Cup Draw of Winner

York is widely viewed as one of the fairest tracks in the land. That certainly seems to be the case in this event, with winners spread right across the track. The bottom 11 stalls have just held sway over boxes 12-22, with 14 wins to 10, but results suggested we shouldn’t place too much emphasis on the draw when making our selections.

Finishing Position Last Time Out

John Smith's Cup Finishing Position Last Time Out

A solid recent outing has been narrowly preferable in this event, with 14 of 24 winners (58.33%) arriving on the back of a top-four finish – including five who were backing up a win in their most recent racecourse appearance. Only three of the 21 winners finished outside the top 10 last time.

Previous Handicap Starts

John Smith's Cup Previous Handicap Starts

When assessing any big field handicap, the eye is often drawn to the least exposed runners in the field – following the logic that the fewer handicap starts a runner has, the more likely they are to have a few pounds up their sleeve. That theory holds in this event, with over half of the winners having five or fewer previous handicap outings. Interestingly, three of the four winners with 20+ handicap starts had previously competed at Listed level or above, suggesting formerly classy sorts who have slipped to a competitive mark are also worth looking out for.

Days Since Last Run

John Smith's Cup Days Since Last Run

Recent results suggest that runners arriving on the back of a significant break are the horses to follow, with Sinjaari (281-day break), Johnny Drama (133 days) and Anmaat (287 days) winning the 2020, 2021, and 2022 editions respectively. However, these results go against the overall trend, with 15 of the 24 winners in our sample (62.50%) having run within 30 days.

Fate of the Favourite

A 22-runner handicap lacking strong draw and weight trends sounds like a hard race on paper, and so it has proved in practice. Our 24-race sample featured only four winning favourites. A £1 level stakes punt on the jolly over this period returned a loss of £9.

Overall, 10 winners returned a single-figure SP; nine were priced between 10/1 and 18/1, with the remaining five at 20/1 or bigger. The biggest shock came with the 33/1 success of King’s Warrior in 2012.

Other Stats

  • Andrea Atzeni was the only rider with more than one win to his name, having landed back-to-back editions in 2013 and 2014.
  • Richard Fahey and William Haggas led the way amongst the trainers with three wins apiece.
  • Siring two winners each, Authorized and Lear Fan were the only stallions with more than one win to their name.
  • 21 of 24 winners (87.50%) had previously won over 1m2f or further.
  • 14 of 24 winners (58.33%) had previously won at Class 3 level or above.
  • Only three of 24 had previously won at York.
  • The Wolferton Stakes was the most informative previous race, with four winners running in that Royal Ascot contest last time out – only one of whom managed to finish in the first four.
  • 12 of 24 (50%) had previously competed at Listed level or above, including three who had lined up in Group 1 company.