To its legion of fans, York Racecourse is the best horse racing venue in the country. The track on the Knavesmire dates all the way back to 1730 but astute stewardship and management of the course means that it is both a fair track for horses to compete on and a hugely entertaining day out for racing fans of all ages.
The pick of those days come during York’s two standout meetings: the Ebor Festival and the Spring Festival which each include top level races and some incredibly competitive handicaps.
There aren’t many (if any) racecourses with as many dedicated fans as York. For many of the 350,000 who head to watch the racing on the Knavesmire every year, it’s the near perfect day out. But it is not just racing fans who hold York in high regard. It is regarded as one of the fairest tracks around, a major draw when it comes to attracting top class horses.
York Flat Course
As mentioned above, the history of horse racing at York is a long and varied one. However, it was only in 2005 when the sole track at the course was made into a circuit, a move which improved the course and allowed for some races such as the Lonsdale Cup to have their trips extended.
The longest races now start on the back straight, taking in three sweeping corners before returning. Races of around a mile and a half start in a chute that means there are only two turns to navigate with another chute ensuring sprints are straight and horses running in seven furlong races have only a slight turn to worry about.
Whatever part of the course a race starts at, horses and jockeys are assured of a flat run around York. There are no undulations or hills to speak of throughout the left-handed track. That, combined with the lack of sharp turns, is why so many talk up the fairness of York. Moreover, there is little in the way of draw bias even if a higher draw is slightly preferred for sprints. It is also worth noting that jockeys have shown a growing preference for running down the middle when there is a bit of cut in the ground.
The other main feature of the track from a racing perspective at York is that it favours galloping horses who travel well and attack late on from slightly off the pace. It is very different to a course like Ascot where the first move can often prove pivotal. At York, horses who leave it late to challenge for the lead can often pick off the leaders as they accelerate down the final furlong or two.
Many of the standout races of the year at York take place in the summer but the weather does not always play ball. The ground can get fairly soft fairly quickly and when it does it becomes a real test of stamina for the runners.
Major Races at York
|Last Run||Race||Grade||Last Winner|
|10th Jul 2021||John Smith’s Cup||Class 2||Johnny Drama (22/1)|
|14th May 2021||Yorkshire Cup||Group 2||Spanish Mission (11/2)|
|13th May 2021||Dante Stakes||Group 2||Hurricane Lane (5/1)|
|12th May 2021||Duke Of York Stakes||Group 2||Starman (5/1)|
|22nd Aug 2020||Ebor Handicap||Class 2||Fujaira Prince (11/2)|
|21st Aug 2020||Nunthorpe Stakes||Group 1||Battaash (1/2)|
|21st Aug 2020||Lonsdale Cup||Group 2||Enbihaar (15/8)|
|20th Aug 2020||Yorkshire Oaks||Group 1||Love (4/9)|
|19th Aug 2020||Juddmonte International||Group 1||Ghaiyyath (11/8)|
|19th Aug 2020||Great Voltigeur Stakes||Group 2||Pyledriver (10/1)|