Last year York resembled a ghost town which is quite appropriate seeing as it is regarded one of the most haunted cities in Europe, that is of course if you believe in ghosts (I don’t!) but this time around the Knavesmire will be very nearly back to how we know it as it’s almost time for the Ebor Festival to begin.
For racing fans in the North of England the Ebor Festival along with the St Leger at Doncaster and the Grand National at Aintree are the three premier racing festivals in the north that bring fans from all over the country to these three respective courses.
This year due to the Covid protocols at the time meant a limited crowd of just owners and trainers at Aintree but finally after the big events of The Derby,Royal Ascot,Newmarket July Festival and just a few weeks ago Glorious Goodwood, the festival baton for the next few weeks has made the move from dahn sahf to oop north and boy is it great to see.
Over the next few weeks we are going to be spoilt just like the visitors were at the ambassador’s reception when the Ferrero Roche’s got handed around because after York we come to September when it’s the Three Day Sprint Cup Festival at my local Haydock then it’s the St Leger Festival at Doncaster before the racing circus heads up to the beautiful west coast of Scotland for the Ayr Gold Cup meeting with it’s many metallic consolation races.
Now i love the festivals that we have in racing but when it comes to them happening up north they do have a different style about them and they seem to have more of an emphasis on fun than the southern ones, a bit like in jump racing when the Cheltenham Festival is the main target and spoken about all year round it now seems but Aintree is often regarded as the one where the hair can be let down a bit and the formality eased as the season slowly comes to it’s end.
Where as Glorious Goodwood has things like the cricket match on the Tuesday evening and the Goodwood Ball on the Thursday evening it is a bit different here at York, it may not have the strawberries being given to racegoers to fill a gap between tea (we call it tea up here not dinner!) instead you can do as i and many will and pop into the ever popular sweetie shop behind the County Stand and go back to your childhood and purchase a few quid’s worth of sweets.
After racing on Wednesday you might fancy seeing Hull City v Derby County or if you prefer the oval ball then on Thursday why not pop into Leeds and see Leeds v Huddersfield in Super League, failing that you could always have a night on the razz in somewhere like Doncaster or the more highly cultured of you might pop to the York Theatre Royal and see whose treading the boards during the week.
Even though I am from Lancashire I can genuinely say that York is somewhere i always get excited about visiting for the racing, and especially this meeting which is the highlight for people from all walks of life who come from the northern towns, cities and small villages to see some of the finest bloodstock do battle on a piece of land which has it’s own unique history from the hanging of Dick Turpin to Frankel striding down the Knavesmire as the late Sir Henry Cecil watched on to the famous Grand Departe of the Tour de France.
It will be the first really big racing event for the north since the 2019 St Leger Festival at Doncaster and like everyone who has a badge or ticket as i do for Friday it’s going to be a top class event as ever, crowds near enough at full capacity but it is important that racegoers behave and respect eachother so we don’t have a repeat of the past eighteen months or so.
So if you are going then do enjoy yourselves and have a good time and please do stay safe, if you’re a television racegoer then i hope you back plenty winners at the best flat course in the country.
Article by Neil Watson
An Arseonlineracing Publication.
Published – August 2021