YORK RACECOURSE have tried to "raise the bar" as their 2014 season gets under way.
As Malton trainer Richard Fahey took some of his runners round the new pre-parade ring, saddling boxes and vets facilities - the first phase in Knavesmire's £5 million redevelopment which opens today, chief executive William Derby said he would continue to try and invest in prize money and facilities.
Fahey, seven time champion trainer at York, was impressed with the new northern end of the track saying: "It's marvellous, couldn't be better and all we need now is some winners from it."
Derby, keen to see the new areas in action for the first time with the feature Tattersalls Musidora Stakes the highlight of the opening day, said there was "great excitement" at the racecourse to welcome in another year.
"The Classic picture looks wide open so our premier two trials for the both the Oaks and the Derby - the Tattersalls Musidora Stakes today and the Betfred Dante tomorrow - look like being key milestones in the build-up to those Classics at Epsom as well as being fabulous races themselves," he said.
"There's an amazing excitement about the place as we build up to our first meeting of the season. We've got our new development coming on stream and it is the first time prize money at the Dante Festival will be more than £1 million.
"There's a lot to look forward to, not just over the next three days racing but the 17-day season ahead.
"For many racegoers, I know it is their favourite race of the season. It's a time to come and see the great horses make their first impressions on the British summer. It's an exciting time. We are very excited, especially with a new development to launch that and see people's reactions to that.
"It has been a busy time during the winter but racing is what we are all about. We have worked hard to improve the facilities across the site, not just the northern end, but we have also worked on the Bustardthorpe Stand at the south of the site.
"We have also worked to improve facilities for stable staff over at our complex on Tadcaster Road. We have tried to raise the bar again as we head into the 2014 season and we have got exciting plans for years ahead but it is nice to be coming out of a long wet winter and looking forward to a great summer."