The Yorkshire Oaks is one of the major races at York’s prestigious Ebor Festival each August.

Established in 1849, the race has been a Group 1 contest since 1971 and is run over a mile and a half.

Originally the race was open to three year old fillies, but older horses were introduced from 1991, further strengthening its status as a top class event.

The inaugural running was won by Ellen Middleton, owned by the 2nd Earl of Zetland and it has been sponsored by Darley Stud since 2006.

In the time since the race was opened up to older fillies, two horses have managed to win the Yorkshire Oaks twice: Only Royale (1993 and 1994) and Islington (2002 and 2004).

Since the race opened up to older fillies, it has been won by three year olds on 16 occasions and by older fillies and mares 10 times.

In 1932 the race produced a dead-heat between Nash Light and Will o’ the Wisp.

The 2008 race took place on Newmarket’s July Course, after the original fixture at York was abandoned due to waterlogging.

Fred Archer holds the record as the jockey with the most wins in the race (8): Spinaway (1875), Lady Golightly (1877), Jannette (1878), Wheel of Fortune (1879), Dutch Oven (1882), Britomartis (1883), Clochette (1884), Philosophy (1886)

The most successful trainer is currently a tie between Matthew Dawson and Sir Michael Stoute, who each trained 9 winners:

Mathew Dawson – Leonie (1868), Gertrude (1870), Spinaway (1875), Lady Golightly (1877), Jannette (1878), Wheel of Fortune (1879), Dutch Oven (1882), Britomartis (1883), Clochette (1884)

Sir Michael Stoute – Fair Salinia (1978), Sally Brown (1985), Untold (1986), Hellenic (1990), Pure Grain (1995), Petrushka (2000), Islington (2002, 2003), Quiff (2004)

The Yorkshire Oaks often features horses which ran previously in the Epsom Oaks. The first to achieve victory in both races was Brown Duchess in 1861, and since the race gained Group One status, nine fillies have completed the double:

Lupe (1970), Mysterious (1973), Fair Salinia (1978), Sun Princess (1983), Circus Plume (1984), Diminuendo (1988), User Friendly (1992), Ramruna (1999) and Alexandrova (2006).

Tapestry (nearside) gets the better of Taghrooda in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks last year
Image by Steven Cargill

In 2014, the hitherto unbeaten Taghrooda, winning of the Oaks and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, lost her record to Tapestry.

Pleascach (centre) gets up from Covert Love (right) and the late finihsing Sea Calisi, inthe Group 1 Darley Yorkshire Oaks
Image by Steven Cargill

Another outstanding winner of the race was Petite Etoile, the 1,000 Guineas and Oaks winner of 1959, who added victory on the Knavesmire.

Enable wins the 2017 Darley Yorkshire Oaks
Image by

Then in 2017, the Knavesmire was treated to a championship performance by the year’s superstar, Enable. After winning at York, completing the Oaks treble of Epsom, the Curragh and York, John Gosden’s brilliant filly crowned her year with victory in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Sea Of Class going to post ahead of her fine run in the Arc

A year later, another very special talent graced the Knavesmire.

The William Haggas-trained Sea Of Class, out of the brilliant Sea The Stars, took time to come to hand – but when she did, she proved an outstanding racehorse.

Jockey James Doyle formed a fantastic partnership with Sea Of Class, deploying hold-up tactics which saw her land the Group One Irish Oaks with a touch of real class.

She headed to York in August, taking on seven rivals, including the Prix de Diane winner Laurens, Coronet and Magic Wand.

Once again, Sea Of Class was held up, with Doyle moving her into contention with a quarter of a mile to race.

Sea Of Class stormed into the lead and won by a comfortable 2 1/4 lengths from Coronet.

She then headed to ParisLongchamp for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, where she just failed to catch Enable.

The last two winners of the Yorkshire Oaks had filled the first two places in the Arc.

Yorkshire Oaks Winners:

1849: Ellen Middleton

1850: Brightonia

1851: Vivandiere

1852: Adine

1853: Mayfair

1854: Virago

1855: Capucine

1856: Victoria

1857: Tasmania

1858: The Argosy

1859: Bilberry

1860: Stockade

1861: Brown Duchess

1862: Feu de Joie

1863: Miss Armstrong

1864: Gondola

1865: Klarinska

1866: Lady Vane

1867: Ines

1868: Leonie

1869: Toison d’Or

1870: Gertrude

1871: Rebecca

1872: Maid of Perth

1873: Marie Stuart

1874: The Pique

1875: Spinaway

1876: Zee

1877: Lady Golightly

1878: Jannette

1879: Wheel of Fortune

1880: Belfry

1881: Thebais

1882: Dutch Oven

1883: Britomartis

1884: Clochette

1885: St Helena

1886: Philosophy

1887: Reve d’Or

1888: Briar-root

1889: Antibes

1890: Ponza

1891: Charm

1892: Gantlet

1893: Siffleuse

1894: Spring Ray

1895: Nighean

1896: Helm

1897: Fortalice

1898: Fairmile

1899: Victoria May

1900: La Roche

1901: Santa Brigida

1902: Ice-maiden

1903: Hammerkop

1904: Bitters

1905: Costly Lady

1906: Catnap

1907: Order of Merit

1908: Siberia

1909: Collet Monte

1910: Winkipop

1911: Alice

1912–18: no race

1919: Mademoiselle Foch

1920: Inflorescence

1921: Love in Idleness

1922: Sister-in-Law

1923: Splendid Jay

1924: Blue Ice

1925: Brodick Bay

1926: Doushka

1927: Gioconda

1928: Rye Water

1929: Flittemere

1930: Glorious Devon

1931: Rackety Lassie

1932: Nash Light / Will o’ the Wisp dead-heated

1933: Star of England

1934: Dalmary

1935: Trigo Verde

1936: Silversol

1937: Sculpture

1938: Joyce W

1939: Night Shift

1940–45: no race

1946: Live Letters

1947: Ladycross

1948: Angelola

1949: Unknown Quantity

1950: Above Board

1951: Sea Parrot

1952: Frieze

1953: Kerkeb

1954: Feevagh

1955: Ark Royal

1956: Indian Twilight

1957: Almeria

1958: None Nicer

1959: Petite Etoile

1960: Lynchris

1961: Tenacity

1962: West Side Story

1963: Outcrop

1964: Homeward Bound

1965: Mabel

1966: Parthian Glance

1967: Palatch

1968     Exchange

1969     Frontier Goddess

1970     Lupe

1971     Fleet Wahine

1972     Attica Meli

1973     Mysterious

1974     Dibidale

1975     May Hill

1976     Sarah Siddons

1977     Busaca

1978     Fair Salinia

1979     Connaught Bridge

1980     Shoot A Line

1981     Condessa

1982     Awaasif

1983     Sun Princess

1984     Circus Plume

1985     Sally Brown

1986     Untold

1987     Bint Pasha

1988     Diminuendo

1989     Roseate Tern

1990     Hellenic

1991     Magnificent Star

1992     User Friendly

1993     Only Royale

1994     Only Royale

1995     Pure Grain

1996     Key Change

1997     My Emma

1998     Catchascatchcan

1999     Ramruma

2000     Petrushka

2001     Super Tassa

2002     Islington

2003     Islington

2004     Quiff

2005     Punctilious

2006     Alexandrova

2007     Peeping Fawn

2008     Lush Lashes

2009     Dar Re Mi

2010     Midday

2011     Blue Bunting

2012     Shareta

The Fugue seen winning the Yorkshire Oaks, is another fascinating contender
Image reproduced with the kind permission of York Racecourse

2013     The Fugue

2014     Tapestry

2015     Pleascach

Seventh Heaven storms to Darley Yorkshire Oaks success
Image by

2016     Seventh Heaven

2017 Enable

2018 Sea Of Class