IT’S OFFICIAL. York racecourse is the best in the country.

And today, thousands of race-goers will flock to the Knavesmire for the first day of the June meeting, the course’s third of the season.

The weather should be good and, according to the forecast, it will be even better on Saturday for the MacMillan Charity Day.

Today’s feature is the EBF Breeders Series Fillies’ Handicap – a £30,000 sprint contest for three-year-olds and upwards.

Trainer Ian Williams is hoping Turanga Leela will maintain her fine early-season form to pick up the prize. A winner at Chester last month, she is owned by Denise and Mark Sheasby of Eventmasters Racing who are also sponsoring the closing apprentices’ handicap.

She has been raised 7lb for that latest victory and today’s assignment will be her first in a Class 2 handicap.

“Turanga Leela loves Chester and probably saves her best for there,” said Williams. “But she has certainly earned the right to run in this race although it looks very competitive. This is, by far, a stiffer assignment but she merits an opportunity against these horses.”

Other lively contenders in the race (4.05pm) will include Feathered Nest, trained by Richard Fahey at Malton and ridden by Paul Hanagan, and Sainted, trained by William Haggas and ridden by Pat Cosgrove.

Monjeni, also trained by Ian Williams, is one of eleven horses declared for the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Handicap (4.30pm) staged over a mile and three-quarters.

The gelding joined Williams for his four-year-old campaign and has proved a revelation so far this season winning three of his four starts, including last time out at Haydock.

“Monjeni has a very progressive profile and I was very impressed with the way he won at Haydock last time,” said Williams.

“Ultimately, the handicapper has had his say and it gets tougher, but being by Montjeu and out of a very good mare, this horse is bred to be good. It would be lovely for the breeder if Monjeni was able to make another step forward.

“He should enjoy the track and the ground and we are looking forward to seeing him perform. He will, hopefully, enjoy a truly-run race and a good long straight to get going in.”

Tomorrow’s racing showcases a number of sprint stars with £100,000 up for grabs in the Catherine Kinloch Paver Memorial Macmillan Charity Handicap. The race is one of the season’s most valuable contests for three-year-old sprinters and has been won in the past by the likes of Cadeaux Genereux, Sheikh Albadou, and Twilight Son.

Newmarket trainer Roger Varian says Ekhtiyaar, owned by Sheikh Hamdan, has ‘very solid claims’. A winner on his second start at Yarmouth last October, the son of Bated Breath was a runner-up on his seasonal re-appearance at Doncaster before landing a six-furlong handicap at Newmarket.

“The handicap programme for three-year-old sprinters is a lucrative one and this race is a ‘stand-out’ being such a valuable contest,” he said. “I think the course will suit him given he is a strong-travelling type and the better ground won’t be a problem. I hope Ekhtiyaar holds very solid claims. “A number of horses arrive here on steep upward curves and I expect the race to be as competitive as the prize fund suggests it ought to be.”

Today’s seven race card starts at 1.50pm.