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Press Family Raceday: Salute to ambience of the people’s raceday
7:00pm Saturday 7th September 2013 in Sport
THE PRESS Family Raceday remains as “enchanting” as it did when it first came into existence at the turn of the Millennium, says York Racecourse chief executive William Derby.
A record prize fund of more than £100,000 is on offer for tomorrow’s seven-race card, with the feature contest of the afternoon – the Listed Betfred Garrowby Stakes – sure to attract the attention of some of the country’s leading trainers and jockeys.
But York’s only Sabbath raceday, staged for the 14th time this year, has always been about more than just the action on the famous Knavesmire turf, with Derby stressing the family atmosphere makes it a unique offering in the track’s calendar.
“This is a really important day to York Racecourse,” he said. “It’s about people attending who are local to the course – York residents and readers of The Press – and it is very important to attract the new generation.
“Some will come principally to see Peppa Pig but will also get exposed to the joys of racing.
“We are delighted that we will be able to once again open up the course and that people can have a picnic in the course enclosure and then come across to see the horses in the parade ring.
“The atmosphere on the day is different to any other raceday we stage. It’s a day we genuinely look forward to staging – being part of the community – and it is a hugely important part of what we do.”
Derby, who will be bringing his own children to the Family Raceday as will other members of the York Racecourse team, also hailed the success of North Yorkshire-based trainers this season.
The Sunday meeting was originally established to give smaller, locally-based handlers an opportunity to shine on a big day at York and the meeting has been dominated by the home team since its inception.
But that trend has now spread into many of Knavesmire’s major festival days, with Nawton trainer David O’Meara enjoying a treble across the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival last month and Hambleton handler Kevin Ryan once again claiming the Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes and the big money sales race at the meeting.
Derby added: “There’s been a real resurgence and it is not just one stable that is dominating and getting all the winners.
“Mark Johnston had a winner during the Ebor Festival. David O’Meara had three as did Kevin Ryan. Richard Fahey has been seven times the top trainer at York.
“There are a lot of good trainers with good horses across the county. There will be a big spread of runners from the different yards tomorrow.
“There will be no soft races – it will be proper sport and, hopefully, there will be a lot of fun as well. It is always enchanting and a lovely day.”
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