Category Archives: York

YORK RACECOURSE ANNOUNCES FURTHER STRENGTHENING OF 2019 RACE PROGRAMME

York Racecourse is pleased to confirm that 2019 will see a further strengthening of its race programme; featuring both the upgrade of the Sky Bet City of York Stakes to Group 2 status, as well as the £1m Sky Bet Ebor becoming an open handicap.

These changes, approved by the European Pattern Committee and British Horseracing Authority, should further encourage the best horses – be they seven furlong specialists or the top of the staying division – to run at the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival.

Already a historic and successful race, the Sky Bet Ebor will celebrate a new chapter in a story that dates back to 1843 when up to 22 thoroughbreds compete for their share of a seven figure purse on Saturday 24 August. The new conditions will mean the top rated horse in the Ebor will carry 9st 10lb and all other Ebor runners’ weights will be allocated in reference to their rating in relation to the top weight.

This feature contest of the final day of the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival will be the culmination of the new Race to the Ebor Series – an initiative that sees the winners of three designated staying races offered a berth in York’s new 22 bay stalls. The three nominated contests are The Sky Bet Melrose of 2018 – meaning, Ghostwatch has already earned a slot for trainer, Charlie Appleby and Team Godolphin; the second race is the Sky Bet Jorvik run on Wednesday 15 May 2019 (day one of the Dante Festival); and then the Sky Bet Grand Cup, the pattern race highlight of Saturday 15 June (Macmillan Charity Raceday.)

York Racecourse is further delighted at the recent confirmation that the Sky Bet City of York Stakes has been upgraded in status to become a Group Two contest. Also run on the Saturday of the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival, the seven furlong contest has a proud roll of honour. Most recently, Expert Eye carried the famous silks of Prince Khalid Abdullah to victory ahead of further success in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. Ongoing investment in this race will see the upgraded contest offer prize money of £200,000 – more than double the minimum value for a Group 2 race.

Lord Grimthorpe, Chairman of York Racecourse, as well as Racing Manager to Juddmonte Farms, and so to Expert Eye, said; “York takes a real pride in the quality of racing that it offers, so it is tremendous news that the Sky Bet City of York is to be upgraded and so become the fifth Group Two at the Ebor Festival. It was a special moment to win it with Expert Eye last season and I would be confident that the 2019 victor will need to be another good sort. The ongoing investment in prize money demonstrates our commitment to the race.”

Talking about the role of the Sky Bet Ebor for British Racing, Chief Operating Officer of the British Horseracing Authority, Richard Wayman, said, “The 2019 Ebor will be the first £1m Flat handicap to take place in Great Britain and the race is likely to become a significant target for quality stayers both nationally and internationally. All involved should be commended for taking this famous and historic race into an exciting new chapter as part of the sport’s strategy to support the production, ownership and retention of the staying horse.”

With Ebor hero, Quick Ransom, back in 1992, part of a now record breaking haul of flat winners, trainer Mark Johnston said “This prize-money is a huge boost for the Ebor and surely provides an incredible incentive, even greater than before, for owners to try and find a horse that can win them an Ebor. Making the race an open handicap is absolutely the right thing to do; no horse can now ever be too good for the Ebor”.

Leading Newmarket handler, Hugo Palmer, said, “This is wonderful news and something I have been hugely supportive of from the outset. I am sure that having a landmark open handicap for stayers in Europe will help to keep talent here in the northern hemisphere and, who knows, maybe an Aussie will try to win it one day too! We have all seen the impact that the Melbourne Cup has on Australian and world racing, and it is great that York and Sky Bet have been able to invest so significantly in this famous race.”

YORK RACECOURSE SEASON COMES TO A ROUSING CONCLUSION

York Racecourse concluded its 2018 season today after a hugely busy year which has seen a strong attendance, as over 350,000 racegoers witnessed 122 races over 18 fabulous days of racing action. Nearly 1,400 horses competed for a record of more than £8.2m prize money delivering an impressive average field size, which looks set to retain its position as the largest in British flat racing.

In other excitements this year, Macmillan Charity Raceday in June raised a record sum of well over £500,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support and other charities, making it the biggest charity raceday in British racing and Macmillan’s largest single fundraising event, having now raised over £8m during the last 48 years.

Showing the variety of its customer offer, York sold out in all enclosures, on Summer Music Saturday (30th June), when seven races including the innovative “jump jockeys Nunthorpe” plus a concert by Paloma Faith drew in the crowds.

The opening day of the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival saw the million pound Group 1 Juddmonte International rewarded by a stellar field with seven of the eight runners having previously won at the highest level, eventually headed by Roaring Lion, currently the highest rated colt in Europe for his connections, Qatar Racing and trainer, John Gosden.

The balance of the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival saw an outstanding four days of racing action with Stradivarius taking the Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup as the final leg in earning the £1m WH Stayers Bonus, supported by the same sponsors. Leading filly, Sea of Class took the Darley Yorkshire Oaks as part of her sparkling season, which culminated in a thrilling close up second to last year’s York heroine, Enable, in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, just last weekend. Arguably the most dramatic moments of the season unfolded in the photo finish that decided the Coolmore Nunthorpe as Bryan Smart’s Alpha Delphini shaded Mabs Cross, trained by Michael Dods, in a battle of northern handlers. The gracious losers had their reward, last weekend when winning the Group One Prix de l’Abbaye. Tet another highlight of a tremendous week, was seeing Mark Johnston becoming the winningmost British trainer of all time after a dramatic win by 25-1 outsider, Poet’s Society, in the Clipper Logistics Stakes under Frankie Dettori.

The total attendance for the year of 350,998 showed a modest increase on last year, reflecting the highs of Summer Music Saturday, the glorious distraction of the Football World Cup, the disruption caused by train strikes on several racedays and the ill luck of some disappointing weather during a generally pleasant summer.

A wider challenge in July was the disappointing abandonment of the Tom Jones concert after thunderstorms in the South East disrupted the travel plans of the Welsh singer.

The final day saw nearly 19,000 racegoers brave Storm Callum to watch Josephine Gordon partner Major Jumbo to success in the Coral Sprint Trophy, for Hambleton based trainer Kevin Ryan. Indeed northern stables achieved a clean sweep on the final day, with five different Yorkshire yards adding a double for Tom Dascombe, based over the Pennines.

Malton based, Richard Fahey was crowned as the Charles Clinkard York Top Trainer; his hugely impressive sixteen winners giving him a ninth title. So the wonderful Skeaping Bronze will be heading to a familiar mantelpiece. The conclusion of the season long contest to be top jockey at York saw Oisin Murphy win the Living North-sponsored race after seven victories.

The 2018 season saw the £5million refurbishment of the infield of the course, as the newly named Clocktower Enclosure saw two new toilet blocks, improved pathways and infrastructure, which helped boost summer attendance and improve the experience in this important picnic area.

William Derby, Chief Executive and Clerk of the Course at York Racecourse said “What a memorable season 2018 has been. The continued investment in prize money, the track and facilities has been rewarded with tremendous sporting action. Thanks must go to all the horseman and connections of the stars for bringing them to the Knavesmire. York racegoers are rightly lauded for their love of the sport and they have been treated to some of the very best horses ridden by the very best jockeys once again this year. The achievement of Richard Fahey in setting a record for seasonal winners at York, as well the history making victory for Mark Johnston are the headliners to the underlying strength of flat racing in Yorkshire and we are proud to be part of a part of that community.”

“It is only proper to acknowledge the dedication and hard work of the permanent York Racecourse and York Racecourse Hospitality teams based at the racecourse, it is their efforts that have delivered such a memorable and successful season. The award winning experience for visitors to the Knavesmire is added to by the raceday team and our partners and suppliers who help provide the welcome. Some 2,000 people have given their time, talent and energy to make every York raceday so special.

“We remain hugely appreciative of the support of racegoers, boxholders, hospitality guests and sponsors, so very much hope they have enjoyed their own racedays at York in 2018 and will both look back on many happy memories, as well as look forward to many more!”

Head of Sponsorship and Marketing at York Racecourse, James Brennan, noted “The turn-out this year is a remarkable achievement. Competition for leisure spending is intense and we continue to strive to offer quality racing, value for money and a great day out. I am pleased our programme of entertainment, investment and innovation has been so well received. The performance of Paloma Faith as well as that by Boyzone will provide memories into the winter nights. Another record number of participants enjoying the Ebor Fashion Lawn, a Family Sunday with a record number of young racegoers and the Countryside Raceday in October, were all exciting aspects which combined with top-class racing, service and facilities to provide great entertainment. The 2018 attendance and ongoing commitment of the course to buying fresh, local produce further support the independent economic study that concluded the racecourse was worth over £60 million to the York economy per annum.”

Summarising the year, Lord Grimthorpe, Chairman of York Racecourse, concluded “It has been an honour and privilege to be involved with such an exciting, enjoyable and successful season and I would like to thank everyone connected to York for their attendance, enthusiasm and support. Work will continue during the winter on both the race programme, facilities and innovations across the site to help us continue to attract horses and racegoers back to York for what already looks set to be an exciting 2019 season starting on Wednesday 15 May”

TWO-DAY OCTOBER MEETING IS RICHEST EVER SEASONAL CONCLUSION TO YORK RACES

The last chance to enjoy racing action at York in 2018 comes on Friday and Saturday (12 and 13 October).  With record prize money approaching £500,000 on offer, it is the most valuable October finale ever held on the Knavesmire. Since 2014, the prize money for these two days has almost doubled in value, with all races seeing a boost in that time.

The feature of Friday, a handicap for three year old stayers backed by new sponsor at York, RaceBets, is the twenty-first race of the York season to have a six figure prize pot, offering £100,000. Only in its fourth year, this race is intended to provide an autumn opportunity for the highly rated horses that may well have competed in the Sky Bet Melrose Stakes at the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival. Last year’s winner, Brimham Rocks, for trainer Ralph Beckett, is now competing in Group One contests in Australia for his new connections.

The feature race of the Saturday meeting is also worth £100,000, the Coral Sprint Trophy, an ultra-competitive sprint handicap. Last year’s victor, Teruntum Star, has represented Kevin Ryan’s yard in feature handicaps this season.

The Listed Coral Rockingham Stakes, which showcased smart juvenile, Rebel Assault for the record breaking Mark Johnston yard last season, once again offers £50,000.

The ITV cameras will be at the track for both days, covering two races on Friday, including the £30,000 RaceBets Money Back 2nd 3rd 4th Stakes Handicap over a mile.

Friday will see the seventh staging of ‘Countryside Raceday’ with its biggest ever Countryside Market.

Looking to combine the delights of the rural life with the excitement of a raceday, the ‘Countryside Raceday’ on Friday will mean seven races being complemented by rural activity and products; including a sheepdog display.  For those wishing to start their Christmas shopping early, there is a Countryside Market of local produce and crafts.

Friday’s card begins at 2.05pm and blends competitive handicaps with contests to develop the two year olds, as well as honing the talents of apprentice jockeys.  Regular race sponsors on this day include TSG, the IT provider that supports the racecourse team.  Regulars at York and visitors to the city will recognise The Parsonage Country House Hotel & Cloisters Spa at Escrick who return in support of a race on this day.  The European Breeders’ Fund continue their backing of York with support of the contest for maiden two-year-olds that acknowledges their links to the Racing to School organisation.  Completing a day of returning sponsors are Irish Thoroughbred Marketing and The Elevator Company.

Saturday’s quality seven race programme also begins at 2.05pm with the first of six races backed by Coral, a brand that first supported this day back in 1979. The last day of the season will be accompanied by the sound of the Corps of Drums in support of the Coldstream Guards Cup, a middle-distance handicap that will bring the curtain down on 2018.

The meeting will also see the conclusion of the season long contests to be top jockey and trainer at York. In the Living North-sponsored jockeys’ race, the Juddmonte International winning rider, Oisin Murphy, sits tied with Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup victor, Frankie Dettori, on seven winners apiece. A pair of former champions, Paul Hanagan (6) and Danny Tudhope (5) retain hopes that their northern connections may herald a late charge.

The leaderboard of the Charles Clinkard Top Trainer at York is headed by Richard Fahey, with the Malton based handler the long-time leader, having already sent out sixteen winners from his Musley Bank base. Comfortably on track to record a ninth York title, being seven clear of Newmarket’s John Gosden.

As well as the sound of fife and drum, racegoers will be able to enjoy the Chris Brown quartet or an upbeat Steel Band.

Six large screens will cover both racing on the Knavesmire and the major contests from Newmarket.  The Punters’ Panel will offer tips before racing on each day.