The City of York is a very famous city indeed. It is a walled city founded by the romans over 2000 years ago and is a city steeped in history from that period. Later York was occupied by The Vikings until they were defeated. The city rebelled against the Norman Conquest though that rebellion was put down. During mediaeval times, York developed a large cloth manufacturing industry and was a centre for many monasteries and churches. The latter declined under Henry VIII as part of the dissolution of the monasteries. During the Civil War, the city was royalist and was besieged by parliamentarian troops and the siege was eventually lifted after the arrival of reinforcements. Though following the battle of Marston Moor, the parliamentarians again attacked and this time successfully.
York was voted European Tourism City of the Year in 2007 by European Cities Marketing and there are many reasons why. Here is just a few of them:
York attracts thousands of tourists and as such is well equipped with accommodation, eateries and watering holes to suit every taste and budget.
York racecourse hosts 0nly flat racing.
York is a left-handed, U-shaped, flat course, flat and fair and ideal for the long-striding, powerful galloper. The circuit is 2 miles with run-in of almost 5f. There is a straight course for races over 5f and 6f while races of 7f start on a chute.
There seems to be varying opinions as to the draw bias at York dependant on the going. I don’t think that in sprints there is usually any advantage. I would say that if either side of the straight is firmer on the day then maybe then there is some bias. The general feeling for races over a mile though that low draw has an advantage and this presumably an advantage of being near the rail on the turn home. (NB: If anyone out there has better knowledge on this, please do let me know).
Clerk of the course: William Derby
Course telephone number: 01904 620911
York is about 210 miles from Central London, 132 miles from Birmingham, 220 miles from Bristol, 240 miles from Cardiff, 72 miles from Manchester and 201 miles from Edinburgh.
The course itself is located about a mile south of the city on A1036 Tadcaster road.
The course post code is YO23 1EX.
Course parking is free.
The nearest railway station is York Station, about a mile away. There are shuttle buses running at a cost of £3 return. I used the shuttle bus today and it ran very well and was very well organised. Look out for bus number 197.
There are three enclosures at York Racecourse. They are The County Stand, The Grandstand and Paddock and The Clocktower Enclosure. The County Stand has a strict dress code for men of Jacket and Tie. There is a facility at the course to hire these if you so wish. The dress code in the other enclosures is relaxed.
I have never been into The County Stand so not sure what it offers that is worth £28 more (today) than The Grandstand and Paddock. I’m not saying it isn’t worth it for one instant but just not armed to make a comparison. County Stand Patrons can also access the other two enclosures and of course the parade ring area. The course website lists a number of eating places and bars within The County Stand.
The Grandstand and Paddock area and the viewing area especially are big compared to other courses and were comfortable today despite the large crowd. The view is excellent.
Similarly, there are plenty of bars and places to eat. I have to say that the striped hog roast was particularly nice.
Getting in and out and moving around was very easy. Today there was some entertainment at both ends. There was a jazz band playing behind the County Stand as well as competitions for the best dressed racegoers. At the other end there was an Irish band. Both created their own brand of atmosphere.
The Clocktower stand is in the centre of the course. It looks to have decent food and drink facilities and is an area suitable for picnics, weather permitting.
The staff here were friendly and well organised and the course was very well policed.
It’s been a few years since I’ve been at York. I used to come to the first day of this meeting every year and have some incredible memories. This is a magnificent venue and while it may have equals in the racing world, it doesn’t have any superiors, not in my view at least. There was a big crowd today and you would expect but the course has the space to cope with that and everything is very well organised. I stayed with family in Harrogate so travelled here by train and then shuttle bus to the course which was very straightforward indeed.
If I had a disappointment, it would be the insistence of the course that a jacket and tie were necessary for entry into the County Stand. Having said that, I’m not sure that £62 entry over £34 for the grandstand and paddock enclosure was worth the extra £28. But there you go, it’s all about individual choice. I did see an opportunity to hire a jacket (£25) and tie (£10) on the way in for those who need it.
I was reasonably confident that ‘Angels Hideaway’ would win the first (The Lowther Stakes – Group 2) and seemingly having ‘Fairyland’ to beat, 2/1 early seemed a fair price. The pair had met earlier in the season at Ascot when ‘Fairyland’ finished just over a length ahead of her rival when finishing 3rd to Main Edition. However the Aiden O’Brien stable had since been under a bit of a cloud while I felt ‘Angels Hideaway’ had improved in each of her subsequent races particularly with a very comfortable success at Ascot last time out in which race beating one of todays opponents, ‘The Mackem Bullet’. As the race unfolded, ‘Angels Hideaway’ struggled for room a couple of furlongs out and was slightly hampered. Her chance gone, the jockey eased her and she followed the field home in last. Meanwhile, ‘Fairyland’ and ‘The Mackem Bullet’ fought out a very lose finish with ‘Fairyland’ prevailing by a nose in a ph0to finish. I would expect that ‘Fairyland’ would improve a bit from this first race back after a ‘lay-off’.
Race 2 was a class 2 stakes for 2yo over 6f. I had backed Gallovie in her debut at Newbury in July when having finished 2nd to a more experienced rival and then only just beaten in the last few yards. She confirmed that promise when winning at Windsor under todays jockey, Hollie Doyle. Archie Watsons 2yo are still running very well and at around 16/1, Gallovie was well worth considering. This 20 strong field contained a lot of previous winners from stables in form and I was particularly wary of ‘Fanaar’ from the William Haggas yard and ‘Kodyanna’ from locally based Richard Fahey. As it was it was another Richard Fahey inmate who won comfortably at 33/1. Gallovie rewarded my each way interest in staying on well for third and giving me back my losses from the first. I wonder if a try over further might not bring about a little more improvement.
Race 4 was the Yorkshire Oaks and very much the feature of the day. There’s no doubting that ‘Sea Of Class’ has lots of ability and is improving. Her performance in the Irish Oaks shows us just that. But for me, she was a little too short in the market and just didn’t represent value. My preference was for the John Gosden trained ‘Coronet’ who at 11/2 – 6/1 in the morning represented a bit of each way value. Most recently, she had finished 3rd, albeit remote to the Stoute pair in the King George at Ascot and had also finished 2nd in this last year to her wonderful stablemate ‘Enable’. Well this year, she finished 2nd again and as they passed me, 7/4 looked a very good price about the impressive winner ‘Sea Of Class’. She is now favourite for the Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe with many firms.
Race 5 had my big fancy of the afternoon in the John Gosden trained ‘Lah Ti Dar’. She had been favourite for this years Oaks at Epsom only to miss the race through injury. My only concern was if she would strip fully fit after her lay off and this was the only reason I didn’t have a very decent bet. Even money looked a big price but I guess factored in my own concerns. She was hugely impressive winning by an unchallenged 10 lengths, I was never concerned once she took it up over 2 furlongs out. This is a very classy filly and will win a very big prize before this season is out.
So thankfully a profit today and a very enjoyable afternoon. Gotta be grateful!!