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York Races

Last Updated: January 22, 2019

York Racecourse, also referred to as The Knavesmire, will officially host its 300-year anniversary in 2030. It has an illustrious history that includes many famous racehorses and it continues to be one of England’s premier flat racing venues, hosting a variety of prestigious races. 

In May, it hosts the three-day Dante Meeting, which includes the Dante Stakes and the Musidora Stakes, respectively two important trials for The Derby and The Oaks. It also hosts the two-day John Smith’s Meeting in July, whilst the highlight of a fantastic fixture list is the four-day Ebor Meeting in August. This meeting includes three Group 1 Races, the Juddmonte International, the Yorkshire Oaks, and the Nunthorpe Stakes, as well as the Ebor Handicap, one of Europe’s oldest and most lucrative handicaps.

Key Facts

Established: 1730

Course Type: Flat

Current Owner: York Racecourse Knavesmire LLP


York Racecourse is widely regarded as one of the fairest tracks in the country, and it’s no surprise that so many great horses have won here over the years. The course is left-handed, with lovely sweeping bends that allow horses to remain balanced as they enter the long straight when racing at distances of a mile and further. Meanwhile, seven-furlong races start in a chute, whilst five-furlong and six-furlong races are run on the straight course.

Notable Races

York stages several major handicaps throughout the season, as well as many important Listed Races and Group Races. 

The Dante Meeting include the Group 2 Duke of York Stakes over six-furlongs, which was won by Harry Angel in 2018, whilst Coronet won the Group 2 Middleton Stakes, and Stradivarius won the Group 2 Yorkshire Cup. This Meeting is ideally is a stepping stone for potential Derby and Oaks winners, with potential Derby contenders running in the Dante Stakes and Oaks possible running in the Musidora Stakes. Several Derby Winners have won the Dante before winning The Derby, including Golden Horn, Authorized, and Motivator. Meanwhile, Sariska was the last horses to win the Musidora and The Oaks.

York’s flagship Meeting is the Ebor Meeting in August, and the Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes takes place on the opening day of the meeting over 10-furlongs. Few races in the racing calendar can boast a role of honour like it, with winners this century alone including Giant’s Causeway, Authorized, Sakhee, Nayef, Falbrav, Sea The Stars, Frankel, Australia, and 2018 Cartier horse of the year Roaring Lion.

The Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks has also thrown-up more than its share of brilliant winners, including 2017 winner Enable and 2018 winner Sea Of Class, two filies that fought out the finish of the 2018 Prix de L‘Arc de Triomphe. Meanwhile, the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes is run over a lightning-fast five-furlongs. Despite being won by some of the best sprinters of all-time, The Nunthorpe is a race that has seen plenty of shock winners over the last few years though, including 100/1 winner Sole Power, Jwala, and Alpha Delphini.

The Ebor Meeting also stages some notable two-year-old races including the Lowther Stakes, Gimcrack Stakes, and the Acomb Stakes. However, the final day highlight is the Ebor Handicap. It’s a race in which there are often plenty of gambles, but it’s worth noting that only six of the 19 winners from 2000 to 2018 where returned at single-figure prices, with eight winners returned at 20/1 or higher, including a 100/1 winner.

Dress Code

York Racecourse welcomes a variety of racegoers, from those that like to enjoy the finer things it has to offer in the County Stands, to those that love to picnic in the Clocktower Enclosure. However, the dress code does vary in different enclosures.

If you have tickets for the County Stand, men are required to wear a jacket, tie, and collared shirt, whilst the ladies also tend to dress to impress, with high heels and hats in plentiful supply.

In fact, you’ll find most racegoers love to dress up for the races at York, no matter what enclosure they’re in, as many head into York later to frequent the vibrant mix of bars. This is especially the case in the Paddock and Grandstand Enclosure where, though there is no formal dress code, you could be forgiven for thinking you’re at a wedding, as many guests get glammed up.

Meanwhile, the Clocktower Enclosure is mainly grass, so racegoers are urged to consider the weather when choosing their outfits. However, when the sun is out, racegoers are out in force, many of whom are happy to throw down a picnic blanket to use as a base for the day.

Fancy dress is permitted in the Clocktower Enclosure, Grandstand, and Paddock, but please refrain from wearing anything that may be offensive to others.

Interesting Facts

York may be legendary for its thrilling horse racing finishes, but the Knavesmire was also where Dick Turpin came to an untimely death when he was hung there in 1739.

The Princess Royal rode a horse called Insular to victory at York in 1988 in a race known as the Queen Mother’s Cup.

Part of an episode of A Touch of Frost was filmed at York Racecourse, where the Ebor Stand played the role of the fictitious Denton International Airport. 

York Racecourse staged Royal Ascot in 2005, when Ascot was closed for renovation.

Contact Details

York Racecourse, Knavesmire Road, York, YO23 1EX
01904 620911

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