Category Archives: York


York Racecourse concluded its 2017 season today after a hugely busy year which has seen a strong attendance, as 350,000 racegoers witnessed 122 races over 18 fabulous days of racing action. More thoroughbreds than ever (a total of 1,468) competed for a record of more than £7.7m prize money delivering an impressive average field size of 12 which looks set to retain its position as the largest in British racing.

In other excitements this year, Macmillan Charity Raceday in June raised a record sum of over £500,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support and other charities, making it the biggest charity raceday in British racing, having raised over £7.5m during the last 47 years.

For the first time in the modern era, York sold out in all enclosures, on Summer Music Saturday (1st July), when seven races including the innovative “jump jockeys Nunthorpe” plus a concert by Olly Murs, drew in the crowds.

The opening day of the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival saw the first ever million pound race on the Knavesmire, the Group 1 Juddmonte International, which currently holds the position as Britain’s highest rated race. Royal Patron of York, HRH The Duke of York, was able to present the trophy to the winning connections of Ulysses as trainer Sir Michel Stoute and jockey, Jim Crowley, delivered another big prize for the Niarchos family.

The balance of the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival saw an outstanding four days of racing action with Enable, the highest rated horse in Europe this season, taking the Darley Yorkshire Oaks as part of her five Group One victories in a row. Arguably the most dramatic finish of the season unfolded in the Coolmore Nunthorpe as Lady Aurelia, trained in the USA by Wesley Ward, was pipped in a photo-finish by Marsha, resulting in jubilant scenes from her Elite Racing Club owners and despondency for the vanquished Frankie Dettori.

Indeed, a remarkable six of the top ten rated horses that have raced in Europe this season, Enable, Ulysses, Battaash, Churchill, Barney Roy and Lady Aurelia have all graced the Knavesmire.

The total attendance for the year of 349,532 an increase of 2,350 from 2016, reflects the highs of Summer Music Saturday and the disappointing weather of the summer months which meant significant rain fell on eight racedays. The final day saw 20.676 racegoers watch Teruntum Star land the Coral Sprint Trophy, part of a double for Hambleton trainer Kevin Ryan in the hands of Kevin Stott.

The fiercely contested Charles Clinkard Top Trainer at York Trophy was won for the first time by William Haggas. Skipton-born, though Newmarket based, Haggas had led the way for the majority of the season and posted an impressive thirteen winners; surviving a late season surge by Malton’s Tim Easterby, that got the Great Habton yard to within three of the eventual champion.

A new name also appears on the Living North Champion Jockey Trophy, as locally based Danny Tudhope posted six winners and ten second places to land his first title, shading a clutch of top riders that included Jim Crowley, James Doyle and David Allan. As an indication of the strength of the field, twelve different riders achieved a double on a York raceday 2017.

The 2017 season saw the creation of a new dining experience, known simply as Eat Between Our Races, fusing the best in locally produced tasty food with the latest high street EPOS technology, which posted an impressive 40% increase in transactions and rapidly established it as a place to sample good Yorkshire food and then get on with enjoying the raceday.

Work has already commenced on the next major capital project at York, a wholescale upgrading of facilities for Course Enclosure racegoers in the centre of the Course. The £4m project will see enhanced catering, betting and toilet facilities for racegoers in the picnic enclosure while retaining the family atmosphere and outstanding value as a place to enjoy racing from. It is planned that Phase One of this project will be in use for the 2018 season.

William Derby, Chief Executive and Clerk of the Course at York Racecourse said “What a memorable season 2017 has been. The quality of racing action at York has been tremendous and we are delighted that our continued investment in the track, facilities and record prize money has delivered such compelling and competitive racing action. We are grateful for the ongoing support of owners and horsemen for bringing their fabulous charges to York. Racegoers have seen some of the best horses and jockeys in the world compete on the Knavesmire and we have been delighted with their reaction to the improved facilities and innovations across the site and season. We are proud to be part of a Yorkshire racing community which goes from strength to strength and in the success of Yorkshire-based handlers and jockeys, both here at York and further afield, it is a tremendous reflection of the health of flat racing in the County.”

“I must pay tribute to the team at York who have delivered such a memorable and successful season, from the permanent York Racecourse and York Racecourse Hospitality teams based at the racecourse, who work so hard throughout the year to continue to innovate and improve the experience for visitors to the Knavesmire; to the raceday team who help provide the award-winning service and welcome to our racegoers. 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 2017 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 Olly Murs, as well as those by All Saints and Jess Glynne, the latter on a truly soaking evening, will provide memories into the winter nights. Another record number of participants enjoying the Ebor Fashion Lawn, a Family Sunday with a visit from Paddington, and the Countryside Raceday in October, were all exciting aspects which combined with top-class racing, service and facilities to provide great entertainment. The 2017 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 2018 season starting on Wednesday 16 May 2018”


SPRING Loaded is ready to be unleashed once more with his trainer Paul D’Arcy’s sights set on the £100,000 Coral Sprint Trophy handicap at York on Saturday.

The five-year-old gelding delivered a power-packed performance in securing a three-and-half length win in the Portland Handicap at Doncaster last month.

It was a victory that suggested D’Arcy’s charge is every bit as good on the turf as he is on the all-weather.

Newmarket-based D’Arcy said: “He’s rated 105 on the all-weather so he’s a good horse. But people have pigeon-holed him as an all-weather horse and he’s not. I know he’s just as good on turf as he is on the all-weather.

“Things went right for him (at Doncaster). The draw was right and the ground dried out – just on the soft side of ‘good’, probably.

“Everything went right for him, which happens with sprinters. Sometimes you have to be patient.

“He came out of that race well and I always had this race at York in mind for him. I think the track will suit him.

“I ride him every day – we’ve had this partnership for four years. Like a lot of sprinters, the older they get, the better they get. I think there’s still some improvement in him.”

The race sponsors, Coral, have Spring Loaded as 7/1 favourite

Offering each way value at 16/1 would be the Ruth Carr-trained Pipers Note, who was fifth on Town Moor last month.

The leading Yorkshire-trained contender could well be Flying Pursuit. Tim Easterby’s charge won over course and distance in the Sky Bet Dash in late July, though the handicapper has had his say after this and a further success at Ripon.

Saturday’s seven-race card also includes the Rockingham Stakes – a six-furlong Listed race for two-year-olds offering £50,000 in prize money.

For tickets please call 01904 620911 x 225 or visit


WILLIAM Haggas is aiming to fulfil a career ambition on Saturday by becoming top trainer at York for the season.

The Skipton-born, if Newmarket-based trainer has recorded 12 winners on the Knavesmire in 2017 – three more than his fellow Yorkshireman and nearest rival, Tim Easterby.

Both stables will be well represented at York’s season-concluding two-day meeting – worth £465,000 – which gets underway on Friday. Haggas, 57, said: “I always wanted to, one day, be leading trainer at York one season. We nearly did it a couple of years ago and got done on the last day when David O’Meara had four winners in the last two meetings. This year, it looks as though – with a bit of luck – it’s only Tim that’s the danger.”

Haggas expects to run “three or four each day”, including The Grand Visir in the £100,000 Unibet Handicap on Friday and, the following afternoon, Raucous in the £100,000 Coral Sprint Trophy. He is also planning on being double-handed in the Rockingham Stakes – a six-furlong Listed race for two-year-olds, worth £50,000.

He said: “In the past, we’ve not really had a plethora of runners – we’ve just been very lucky. But this time, we’re going to run a few, primarily because we’d obviously like to try and win. I think we’ll have three or four each day. But it’s quite late in the day.”

Tulip Fever, who won at Yarmouth last time, is declared in Friday’s opener – the TSG Paul Beioley Memorial Nursery Handicap. Zwayan, successful at Ascot last Friday, is turned out quickly again for the second race on the card – the Handicap.

In Friday’s feature, the mile and three-quarters Unibet Handicap, The Grand Visir returns to York after finishing fifth over course and distance in the Betfred Melrose Handicap during the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival. Haggas said: “The Grand Visir ran a very good race in the Melrose. He hasn’t run since but he’s in good form and we’ve had this race in mind for a while.”

Saturday’s Coral Sprint Trophy is the plan for Raucous who has run well in a series of high-profile races this summer without getting his head in front. His last success was back in April on the all-weather at Chelmsford.
Haggas said: “He has got plenty of talent – it just hasn’t fallen his way. We’ll just see how he goes but he could easily surprise – he’s one of those. He’s in really good form and looks great, too.”

Barton Mills, winner of a Kempton novices’ race in late September will come back in trip for the Rockingham Stakes. Stable-mate Island Drive – beaten favourite at Nottingham two months ago on her last start – is set to join him in the race. Haggas said: “Barton Mills has run twice and run well over seven furlongs. The jockey (Martin Harley) is very keen to try him at six, so we’re giving it a go in a Listed race.”

Haggas has been in contention to land the Charles Clinkard backed top trainer crown for 2017 since the Dante Festival where he landed a big-race triumph with Tasleet. The sprint ace was successful in the Group 2 Duke of York Clipper Logistics Stakes. “He was marvellous,” said Haggas, nominating Tasleet’s win as his favourite from his dozen so far at York this season.

The trainer summed up: “York means a lot to a lot of people. It’s a great track, always packed and just a very good atmosphere. It’s a very fair racecourse; very few hard luck stories and very often the best horse wins. Now they’ve got the track drained properly, it has made it so much better. We race on lovely ground. They do a great job – it’s first class.”

Full coverage of every race in the conclusion of the season long championship is available on Racing UK.

For tickets please call 01904 620911 x 225 or visit