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York Racecourse concluded its 2023 season today after a busy, positive, successful year which witnessed some of the best horses in the world competing over 18 racedays of world-class racing action.

A record investment by the York Race Committee of £10.75 million (+£750k on 2022) was rewarded with a record ever number of runners across the season, at a total of 1498 for a record equating to an average field size of 11.9, likely to be among the highest in British flat racing.


A final day crowd of 20,206 (+5% on 2022) for the last raceday of the season demonstrates the appetite for the combination of top-class sport in world-class facilities, presented by a welcoming team. Following on from a number of school visits on racedays earlier in the season, as part of the Racing to School initiative, Saturday’s attendance included nearly 5,000 university students as part of the ongoing initiative to introduce the next generation of racegoers. 


Against what is widely acknowledged as one of the most challenging economic climates of recent times, with intense competition for a dwindling leisure pound, the total annual attendance of 289,972 represents an increase of 8,502 in attendance, year on year, that is testimony to the hard work of the team and attractiveness of the experience. This despite two summer Saturdays being significantly impacted by rail strikes.


It has been a tremendous year on the track, with some of the very best racehorses and jockeys in the world having competed at York and gone on to further glory elsewhere. Whether it was from the opening day of the season, when Soul Sister under Frankie Dettori followed up her Tattersalls Musidora victory with Epsom Oaks glory, or Continuous adding the final Classic of the season to his Sky Bet Great Voltigeur success, or Highfield Princess (second twice in Pattern company at York ,this year) landing a Group One in Paris for local connections. The likes of Mostahdaf, who confirmed his then status as the highest-rated turf horse outside Japan when winning the Juddmonte International, Free Wind, Coltrane and Kinross carry strong Knavesmire runs into QIPCO British Champions Day next weekend. The latter won the G2 Sky Bet City of York Stakes, leading home a strong field that means the race has every chance of delivering the designated Group One rating, ahead of the European Pattern Committee meeting.


The memorable success for Absurde and Frankie Dettori meant that Sheffield Voices (who represent the disabled community in the South Yorkshire city) were the winning charity in the Sky Bet Ebor Community Sweepstake, receiving a donation of £20,000. It came in a year that also saw Macmillan Charity Raceday reach the landmark sum of £10m raised for good causes, at York.


L:ocal charity partner, Clifton Green Primary School, was the setting for a visit by Remy (formerly G1 sprinter Goldream) the equine ambassador to the Knavesmire. The team at New Beginnings also took him to both St Leonard’s and St Gemma’s hospices, where the power of the thoroughbred to lift the human spirit was demonstrated in a truly moving manner.


Showing the variety of its customer offer, York again played host to the biggest racing+music concerts in the sport, with Craig David and a valuable seven race card delivering the highest attendance at York since 2018 (35,849), at the July Music Showcase.

Another centrepiece for the course came in June, when Racing With Pride raceday was rightly celebrated with a sponsored race in partnership with the European Breeder’s Fund. The York Templars, an inclusive rugby league side, were guests of the course as part of a rainbow filled and sun-kissed afternoon.


The launch of the environmental sustainability strategy, Green Knavesmire 300, cemented the track’s bold commitment to be Net Zero by 2040,also be4coming the first independent racecourse globally to sign up to the UN Sports for Climate Action initiative.  The venue has already delivered a 51% reduction in emissions since 2018.


Racegoer experiences now include the 360-degree selfie camera for those Insta. moments, as well as trips to the starts, tours of the weighing room, two welcome bands each day, a Frankie Selfie Trail, tribute artists, family attractions and a Countryside Market.


Richard Fahey was crowned as the Charles Clinkard York Top Trainer for a remarkable tenth time; after a close contest with Yorkshire-born trainer William Haggas, the scores at the end of Saturday were nine apiece , however as Musley Bank had the greater number of second placed horses, they take the honours. The team can enjoy the £2,500 prize as well as Christmas Party for forty in December. A wonderful perpetual Skeaping bronze will grace the mantelpiece of jockey William Buick for the first time, after the conclusion of the season-long contest to be top rider at York saw him win the Living North-sponsored contest after 8 victories.


Head gardener Zac Rafferty helped secure an RHS Yorkshire in Bloom Gold award for his floral displays, with the wider Grounds Team in the final two for the prestigious Grounds Management Association Industry Award. The team at Stableside were rated the best facility in the UK following an audit by the National Association of Racing Staff.


William Derby, Chief Executive and Clerk of the Course at York Racecourse said, “The 2023 season has once again been characterised by both the tremendous performances we have witnessed on the track and the unstinting support of racegoers, connections and the wider team.  Despite the undoubted economic challenges and the frustrations of rail disruption, the York Race Committee and I are hugely grateful and appreciative of the wonderful support everyone has shown to York.”. 


“We are delighted that we have been able to continue the strategy of increasing prize money, meaning a record level of £10.75 million, as well as investing in facilities for connections and racegoers such as the Flying Frankie Pub, serving our signature Theakston Ebor IPA.


“The City of York Council Planners recently gave the green light to a further £5m investment at the Southern End of the stands. This exciting project is about improving the experience of Grandstand & Paddock racegoers to York. It will be a busy winter however the new lawns, canopy and extension to the Bustardthorpe Stand will be further evidence of a cycle of investment.


“We very much look forward to opening them in high summer and before then to racing returning to York on 15 May 2024.”