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Action for the 2024 season at York Racecourse gets underway with the three-day Dante Festival starting on Wednesday 15 May, the first of twelve dates that are also Premier Racedays.

It will set the tone for a record investment across the season of £11.2m in prize money, up 30% like for like since 2019. When compared to the equivalent seventeen days of racing in 2023, the increase is c£700,000.

York Racecourse and Juddmonte recently announced that the Group One Juddmonte International will be run for a record £1,250,000. This is a 25% increase in value, cementing it as the richest race ever run on the Knavesmire, as well as being the joint most valuable all-age contest staged on a racecourse-owned fixture, in Britain.

Prize money over the three days of the Dante Festival alone is more than £1.5m, meaning a second year with a six-figure increase, with every race worth £25,000 or more. A third of the contests will see prize money increased, whether that is the Group 2 1895 Duke of York Clipper Stakes, the Group 2 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Middleton Stakes, or a £15,000 boost to a handicap on each of the three days.

Wednesday’s now £150,000 Group 2 1895 Duke of York Clipper Stakes is the first of twenty-nine races across the York season to offer black type. It is also the first of forty-one races which will have at least a six-figure purse.

A feature race for three-year-old fillies, the Tattersalls Musidora has proved to be a leading form indicator for the Betfred Oaks, with eight champion fillies now having gone on to achieve Classic glory, following the success of Soul Sister last season. Typically, fillies from the Musidora return as older horses to contest the now £150,000 Group 2 Al Basti Equiworld, Dubai Middleton Stakes on the Thursday of the Festival.

The Al Basti Equiworld, Dubai Dante, the race that gives the Festival its name by honouring the last Yorkshire trained winner of the Derby back in 1945, is the feature race of the Thursday. This £180,000 Group Two contest is likely to attract colts capable of becoming the lucky twelfth thoroughbred to achieve the Knavesmire/Epsom double, with the most recent being Desert Crown in 2022.

Friday’s principal race is another worth £180,000, the Group 2 Boodles Yorkshire Cup, which sees the leading jewellery brand supporting the leading stayers over one mile and three-quarters. Defending champion, Giavellotto may yet face regular opponent Tower of London, Friday’s renewal is part of the Qipco British Champions Series.

A fully sponsored May programme includes a £40,000 novice race is supported by both the European Breeders’ Fund and Darley who are backing a valuable series of such maiden or novice contests over the summer. It is amongst twenty-two races at York to be backed by the EBF, including the £100,000 Final of the series for juvenile colts & geldings, set for Friday 11 October.

Despite this investment, ALL daily admission prices at the Dante Festival have been frozen at their 2023 rate, meaning admission to the Clocktower Enclosure remains just £8, with further age, group and advance concessions across the enclosures, starting at £23.50 for a group into Grandstand & Paddock. This includes the new Club 26 in partnership with Qipco British Champions Series where racegoers aged 18 to 26 could apply for advance tickets for Boodles Yorkshire Cup day at just £10. Car parking is free of charge and no booking fees are charged.

Prize money increases continue through subsequent meetings, for example each of the Group 2 Sky Bet York Stakes and the feature handicap Sky Bet Dash, will be worth £10,000 more than last season.

Turning to the feature event on the Knavesmire in August, the Sky Bet Ebor Festival has cumulative prize money of over £6.8 million. The minimum prize value is £100,000 whilst there are a number of races that are the most valuable in their respective categories, highlights include:

  • Group One Juddmonte International will be run for a record £1,250,000, +£250,000, cementing it as the richest race ever run on the Knavesmire, as well as being the joint most valuable all-age contest staged on a racecourse-owned fixture, in Britain.
  • Sky Bet Ebor at £500,000 is the most valuable handicap run on the flat in Britain, as well as being the only international race that is ballot exempt for the Lexus Melbourne Cup
  • Sky Bet City of York Stakes while currently still a Group Two, is one that continues to offer Group One prize money of £500,000 as well as having no associated penalties.
  • Al Basti Equiworld, Dubai Gimcrack Stakes is the richest Group 2 for juveniles in Britain, worth £250,000
  • Delivering parity between the sexes, the Sky Bet Lowther is the richest Group 2 for juvenile fillies in Britain, also worth £250,000.
  • Sky Bet Strensall Stakes is the richest all-age Group 3 in Britain, worth £170,000 and an automatic entry into the Bahrain International Trophy.
  • Tattersalls Acomb is the richest Group 3 for juveniles in Britain, worth £165,000, to be staged without any entry restrictions in 2024. For 2024 it is a “Win and you’re In” race for the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Turf.
  • European Breeders’ Fund Convivial at £100,000 is the richest maiden race in Britain.
  • Sky Bet Nursery, another worth £100,000 is the richest nursery race in Britain.
  • A significant boost to the Goffs Premier Yearling Stakes sees it run for a record guaranteed sum of £500,000 as the “Harrys Half Million”.

Further investment will also see the continuing improvements to the facilities for racegoers, connections and horses, not to mention a full programme of entertainment with bonus features across a 17-day season.

For further details about the Dante Festival and the season ahead, please visit York’s website on