York is back in action with the first Saturday of its eighteen day season (May 27).
As with every afternoon at York, the total prize money is into six figures, on this occasion over £180,000 for the seven race card, with the feature race boosted by £10,000.
The younger generation will be able to take part in activity with The Pony Club from a special marquee in Course Enclosure, an area that will come to life in the forecast sunshine. The same positive weather outlook means that the track has relaxed its dress code for the County Stand area, so no jacket is required, simply a collared shirt and tie for gentlemen.
This is the first opportunity for weekend racegoers to explore the latest improvements to the racegoing experience at York, such as, the extensive refurbishment of the eating area on the ground floor of the Ebor Stand. Called “Eat Between Our Races” the new name seeks to capture the speed of service on offer, as well as referencing the most famous contest at the track. A range of freshly made hot and cold deli sandwiches and tasty cakes are likely to start as favourites in this particular race. The upgraded area forms part of a rolling programme of improvements that has seen the unveiling of £10m Northern End Development in recent years. This winter has also seen an upgrading to the “thatched head-on box” which is a recognisable landmark at York. Renovated and restored in Douglas Fir to the style of the rest of the equine areas of the course, this improvement has been kindly supported by the Calvert family. True to York’s reputation, a bottle of champagne will be available from £31. Other tastes are catered for with an extended range of craft beers brewed by Ainsty Ales just beyond the six furlong start, the introduction of premium mixers from Fever-Tree to join the premium spirits served on the smart Moët Ice Roof Terrace, or the easy availability of Heineken 0.0 as a new, refreshing, zero alcohol option.
The first of now seven Saturday afternoon fixtures this season on the Knavesmire, the day welcomes back, weddingmates.co.uk, the footwear accessory brand, who support the Listed Grand Cup. Locally trained by Peter Niven, Clever Cookie, is a two time winner of the race who looks set to face some smart opposition, including the progressive four-year-old, Frontiersman, carrying Godolphin’s blue silks or Midterm trained by Sir Michael Stoute, highly regarded as a three year old, running in the famous Juddmonte colours.
New to the day is online betting company, Unibet, who back a top drawer contest for sprinters, The Unibet Sprint, the second contest on the day to offer prize money of £50,000. Big sprint handicaps on the Knavesmire are as popular with Yorkshire trainers as with Yorkshire racegoers and some thirteen of the entries hail from the white rose county.
Extending their support for York, is Godolphin, who back a competitive race to increase the profile of their Club Godolphin initiative.
The Yorkshire Regiment, also return to put their name to a contest for novice two-year-olds and away from the track, the Regimental Band will entertain racegoers. It is also part a racing scheme known as Plus 10, meaning that there is a bonus of £10,000, awarded to the winning connections, if the horses are qualified.
The Infinity Tyres British EBF Fillies Stakes is one of 21 races at York to also benefit from the generous support of The European Breeders’ Fund
Gentleman amateur riders have their opportunity in the final race of the afternoon, a handicap contest over seven furlongs, sponsored once again by York-based John Wright Electrical Services Ltd, who have worked on the facilities at the racecourse.
Racegoers will have the chance to get close to a racehorse as Yorkshire based equine charity; New Beginnings are bringing Harry, (a thoroughbred who raced here in 1994 using his professional name of Golden Hello) as well as his friend Meg the pony.
The relaxed atmosphere of the first weekend fixture is further enhanced with live musical entertainment provided by the Band of the Yorkshire Regiment on the Weighing Room Lawn and the Superlicks under the Knavesmire Stand. The upbeat style of The Players provides the soundtrack to the late afternoon.
The totepool ‘Punters Panel’ will preview the action before racing from the winners’ enclosure, while a new giant screen on the John Carr Terrace will provide racegoers with an even closer view of proceedings on the track.
Racegoers will be able to follow both the One Day International Cricket and the FA Cup Final on selected televisions around the course.
Those who want to find out more about this raceday and the season ahead can visit York’s website on www.yorkracecourse.co.uk<http://www.yorkracecourse.co.uk/>