A wonderful week of racing at York once again delivered fantastic racing action with record prize money attracting over three hundred and thirty runners including the world’s highest rated racehorse, winning the richest race ever staged at York. Over the four days, the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival 2016 attracted over 84,000 racegoers.
On the opening day, the highest rated horse in the world, Postponed, justified that rating with an impressive victory in the highest rated race in Britain, the £900,000 Group 1 Juddmonte International. Trained by Roger Varian, it was the first of two victories for the yard and four for jockey Andrea Atzeni. That total proved enough for the rider to secure the Ray Gilpin Award as top jockey for the four days, holding off the late challenge from William Buick who recorded a final day treble to tie for second place with Jamie Spencer.
Another good week for trainer Aidan O’Brien saw his colt Idaho win the Group Two Betway Great Voltigeur in good style; before Darley Irish Oaks winner, Seventh Heaven, provided a fourth Darley Yorkshire Oaks title for the County Tipperary yard.
The first running of the Lowther Stakes under the backing of Sky Bet delivered a high profile victory for the Malton yard of Richard Fahey as Queen Kindly took the prize. The daughter of the mighty Frankel overcame her sibling, Fair Eva, in the richest Group Two for juvenile fillies in the land.
The fastest race of the week, the Group One Coolmore Nunthorpe, went to the Michael Dods trained, Mecca’s Angel for the second time, prompting huge cheers from the Knavesmire crowd as they welcomed a northern trained superstar back into the winners enclosure, under local rider, Paul Mulrennan.
Europe’s richest flat handicap, the Betfred Ebor, went to Heartbreak City who had travelled over the Irish Sea from Tony Martin’s County Meath yard, leading to scenes of great jubilation from his delighted owners. So it proved a memorable day for nineteen year old apprentice rider, Adam McNamara, who is based near to the track in Malton.
A more senior member of the Weighing Room, William Buick claimed three wins in front of the near 28,000 of the final afternoon. Two of them came for team Godolphin, including aboard Blue Point in the Group Two Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Gimcrack.
The week included wins for four different yards from the home County, as Kevin Ryan, Tim Easterby and David O’Meara joined Richard Fahey in taking a share of the record £4.25 million in prize money.
Annual visitors to this meeting enjoyed their first experience of the refurbished Edwardian Weighing Room, the final stage in the £10 million redevelopment of the Northern End of the Racecourse. These arrangements include improved pre-parade ring viewing, a new Weighing Room, Moët Pavilion, Roof Terrace, John Carr Terrace and now a bigger brighter space for racegoers to enjoy in the Edwardian Weighing Room.
Fashion is always an integral part of the occasion and a record number of racegoers went down the Ebor Fashion Lawn catwalk. The feature prize of a trip to go racing in Dubai – courtesy of Marriott Hotels – was claimed by Georgina Friswell who had travelled from Billericay.
Reflecting on another memorable week, Lord Grimthorpe, Chairman of York Racecourse, said “There was a great atmosphere at the course all week, I’m delighted that the decision to increase the prize money attracted such strong fields that in turn produced thrilling racing. Add in the sense of occasion that the Ebor Fashion Lawn created and spontaneous fun generated by the live music and it all adds up to a great four days. Racegoers have enjoyed the Yorkshire food which celebrates our use of local ingredients.”
Over the four days, the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival 2016 attracted 84,105 racegoers, with advance bookings having been up across the four days, the decline of 5% is clearly attributed to the poor forecast and wet weather of both Friday and Saturday. The four day format, including a Saturday still comfortably outstrips the attendance of the previous three weekday festival.
Commenting on the meeting, William Derby, Chief Executive and Clerk of the Course, said “Ebor 2016 will be remembered for the wonderful equine performances and the human stories linked to them. The racecourse team of over 2,000 staff and partners has put in a huge amount of work and I am grateful to them, the horsemen, our sponsors and racegoers for their tremendous support of the meeting.”
Always a key part of the European racing calendar, the festival includes four races that are part of the QIPCO British Champions Series. The Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival continues to grow in its worldwide appeal, with the whole meeting being shown live in Australia, huge bonuses on offer from the Japan Racing Association for York winners and the three Group One races (Juddmonte International, Darley Yorkshire Oaks and Coolmore Nunthorpe) all included in the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series. Including the Goffs sales race and supplementary entries, prize money was over £4.25 million, with investment by the racecourse increased by more than £200,000.
As the feature racing Festival of 2016 becomes a fond memory and before it returns on Wednesday 23 August 2017, the sporting crowds can look forward to the next raceday on Sunday 4 September when both the Pony Race Series and Paddington come to the Knavesmire.