In The Spotlight: All you need to know about York Racecourse

Enda McElhinney
York hosts meetings between May and October
York hosts meetings between May and October

York is one of the oldest and most treasured racing venues in Britain, with action said to date back to 1730 on the turf affectionately known as The Knavesmire.

Read on as we turn the spotlight on the famous racecourse. 

About York 

York racecourse is situated in the south-west of the picturesque cathedral city that dates back to Roman times. 

The land was originally common pasture, belonging to the city, and the name stems from the Anglo-Saxon "knave" meaning a man of low standing, and "mire" meaning a swampy pasture for cattle. 

York is a Flat-racing only venue and fixtures take place from early May until October, with the highlights being the Dante Festival for three days in May and the four-day Ebor Festival in August. 

About the racecourse 

York's wide track lends itself to some of the most open races on the British calendar. Courtesy of Racing Post
York's wide track lends itself to some of the most open races on the British calendar. Courtesy of Racing Post

York is generally regarded to be one of the finest Flat tracks in Britain. It is wide open in nature and lends itself to a long-striding galloper. The vast expanses ensure hard-luck stories are uncommon at York.

In 2005, redevelopment work saw the course made into a complete circuit, while it also boasts a straight 5f/6f sprint track and a 7f offering that starts from a chute, as do the 1m6f/2m trips. 

The sweeping turns ensure an even gallop and, in more recent times, fields tend to come down the middle of the track in the home straight, once more giving all horses a fair chance. 

From the final bend, the home straight is almost a half-mile in length. So it can be a long way home, ensuring the closers have plenty of opportunity to organise their challenge. 

Soft ground can make York a severe test of stamina.

Famous races 

Desert Crown won the 2022 Dante Stakes
Desert Crown won the 2022 Dante Stakes

York's season begins with the Dante Festival in May, named after the key Epsom Derby Trial that acts as its centrepiece. 

The 2022 winner Desert Crown became the latest Dante champion to clinch the big race at Epsom the following month for Michael Stoute. 

The meeting also boasts the Musidora Stakes, an Epsom Oaks Trial for the fillies. 

August's Ebor Festival is the main event at the North Yorkshire venue. 

It boasts three Group 1 races with the Juddmonte International Stakes and the Yorkshire Oaks joining the Nunthorpe Stakes, one of the most sought-after sprinting prizes in Europe. 

The meeting also includes the Gimcrack and Lowther Stakes, while it concludes on the Saturday with the Ebor Handicap, a 1m6f event that has often traded as the richest handicap race in Europe. 

In high summer, the two-day July Meeting is headlined by the John Smith's Cup, a mile-and-a-quarter handicap contest whose sponsor can boast the longest-running commercial sponsorship in British racing. 


York differs from many other UK racecourses in offering quite a wide range of hospitality options. 

Eating choices include the Voltigeur, Ebor and Parade Ring Restaurants, while there are hospitality boxes in the Knavesmire, Melrose and Ebor stands to suit all tastes. 

The Gimcrack Suite and The Committee Room are true "one-offs" and unique locations for raceday enjoyment.

Meanwhile, the Premier Lounge and Melrose Club Lounge allow racegoers a smart yet relaxed ambiance from which to enjoy a day at the races.

In the summer months, many will choose to simply relax and enjoy the action on one of the many garden lawns.

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