THE first phase of one of the biggest developments in York Racecourse’s history is continuing, with the aim of completing it by the start of this year’s racing season in May.

Initial work at the northern end of the venue is seeing a new pathway and course crossing point built to improve access, alongside a new pre-parade ring, modern saddling boxes and vet treatment and wash-down areas.

York Racecourse bosses have tweeted pictures of progress on the scheme, drawn up after the first major review of its horse facilities in 100 years.

The overall £10 million project will be completed in stages over several years, with most of the work being carried out between racing seasons.

The aim is to improve facilities for racegoers and secure the racecourse’s reputation as one of the best racing venues in the country.

The new pre-parade ring will be larger and more level than its predecessor.

Although not part of the project’s first phase and not intended to be completed by May, work on a new weighing room alongside the pre-parade ring has also begun.

A racecourse spokesman said the brick and timber building will be “equipped for 21st century jockeys” while reflecting the course’s history, and will boast medical and physiotherapy rooms, a changing room for women riders and a jockey’s lounge.

Future phases will see the existing Moet Pavilion replaced with a new building including a roof terrace and bar looking towards the parade ring.

The tented canopies in front of the John Carr Stand - the only Grade II*–listed building on a British racecourse and believed to be the oldest grandstand in the world – will make way for a lightweight single-span canopy, which the Racecourse said would be “less intrusive”.

The whole project is expected to take until 2015 or 2016 to complete, with the work being carried out by main contractors Lindum York.

William Derby, chief executive and clerk of the course, said: “The desire is to improve things for our current visitors, and this will help us continue to be a world-class venue, ensure we continue to attract the best horses and riders to York and be a great venue to come racing.”