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The Press Family Raceday: William Derby revels in York putting on Sunday best
The Press Family Raceday is very important to York Racecourse, as chief executive and clerk of the course William Derby tells STEVE CARROLL.
BRITAIN’S biggest Sunday raceday never fails to surprise, and delight, says William Derby.
From small beginnings at the start of the Millennium, the combination of top-class racing and family fun has grown out of all proportion – and continues to attract substantial crowds to Knavesmire each year.
So much so, that it has become a vital part of the racecourse offering, as important to the North of England’s “greatest” course as a big Festival day or a scorching, jam-packed Saturday.
“It’s very important,” Derby, chief executive and clerk of York Racecourse, stressed.
“It’s a local crowd, we get a lot of people through our association with The Press and the offer in the newspaper, and they are either walking to the course or taking a short trip with a family.
“Children under 16 go free and it is a great way of enjoying the racing and raceday atmosphere.
“It’s a day we are very proud to stage and we very much hope people from York will come along and enjoy it.”
The day has been boosted by the addition of a Listed race, the £33,000 Garrowby Stakes staged over six furlongs, to the seven race programme and Derby hopes the contest will attract a field to match the investment.
“We are really excited by adding some black type (pattern race) quality to what is a very special day in our calendar,” Derby added. “It’s a big investment in the day and, hopefully, that will bring some top quality horses, some national jockeys and create interest.”
But it is not just about the action on the track.
The fun fair, equiciser, pony racing and the recruitment of children’s TV star Peppa Pig show The Press Family Raceday is also about entertainment and having fun.
Derby explained: “It’s very important that we reach out to a different type of audience and put on so many different elements to the day. We have the retired racehorses and the added attraction of Peppa Pig and the fun fairs.
“It is all about getting people to come to the races. The pony racing has worked really well and this is the third year we will have staged it. It provides a great foundation both for future jockeys and people with an interest in the sport.
“It’s a very relaxed day and we hope people will come and experience York. You don’t have to be a race fan or expert to have a wonderful day’s racing and we hope that appeals to the next generation.”
Peppa Pig headlines attractions
THERE’S so much more to The Press Family Raceday than just racing – particularly if you are one of York’s younger spectators on the day.
Children’s TV favourite Peppa Pig will be making personal appearances all around the course to meet her fans.
And that’s not all.
There’s a bouncy castle, fun to be had in the interactive racing zone and the chance to watch racing’s stars of the future in two pony races before the main action on the track gets under way.
There will also be a fun fair running all day in the Course Enclosure.
Under-16s, of course, go free on a day that naturally attracts a more family feel compared with the hectic hustle of a busy Festival day.
It’s not just the youngsters who can relax, either.
For this special family meeting, County Stand dress code is relaxed and gentlemen do not have to wear a jacket, collar and tie.
There is also the chance to explore both parts of the racecourse with York Racecourse chiefs offering a combined Grandstand & Paddock and Course Enclosure admission.
Racegoers will still be able to enjoy their traditional picnics on the Course Enclosure bank and then take advantage of the special ‘picnic hamper cloakroom’ and then cross over to watch the horses close up in the Parade Ring, while also perhaps sampling the restaurant in the Knavesmire Stand.