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.