CHAIRMAN of York Racecourse Lord Teddy Grimthorpe hailed a "great four days" on Knavesmire - despite a fall in attendances - as course chiefs reflected on last week's Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival.

The Festival saw Ulysses claim the first £1million prize packet at York, the Juddmonte International, while flying fillies Enable and Marsha memorably landed the Darley Yorkshire Oaks and Coolmore Nunthorpe respectively.

The final day also saw Nakeeta come down from Dumfries to land Iain Jardine the richest Flat handicap in Europe, the Betfred Ebor, in front of the biggest crowd of the week, a figure approaching 27,500.

In all, the meeting's record prize money of £4.4million attracted more than 340 runners including star thoroughbreds from the USA, while there was local joy too as six Yorkshire trainers - Paul Midgley, Tim Easterby, Kevin Ryan, David O’Meara, Mark Johnston and Richard Fahey - got among the winners.

The drop in aggregate attendance to a total around 80,000, meanwhile, was put down to the deluge of rain on Wednesday plus the fact last year’s meeting was staged earlier in August to avoid a clash with Bank Holiday short breaks, rugby league's Challenge Cup final and Leedsfest.

Lord Grimthorpe said “There was a great atmosphere at the course all week.

"I’m delighted that the decision to increase the prize money attracted such strong fields reflecting an increased number of runners, that in turn produced thrilling racing.

"Add in the sense of occasion that the Ebor Fashion Lawn created and spontaneous fun generated by the live music, and it all adds up to a great four days. Racegoers have enjoyed the Yorkshire food which celebrates our use of local ingredients.”

On the opening day, the highest-rated race in Britain, the Juddmonte, justified its prize money as Ulysses provided Sir Michael Stoute with a sixth win in York’s richest contest and a first such triumph for Champion Jockey Jim Crowley.

The much-anticipated clash with Churchill, the winner of the English and Irish 2,000 Guineas, and St James’s Palace hero Barney Roy delivered a thrilling final furlong as the trio came to the fore.

The Darley Yorkshire Oaks on Ladies' Day confirmed Enable as the star European filly of the season, with the dual English and Irish Oaks winner adding the Yorkshire variety to her CV, in the silks of Prince Khalid Abdullah.

Friday saw Pattern races over the longest and shortest distances of the week, yet both were only decided after photo finishes. Success came for Montaly in the Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup and Marsha in the Coolmore Nunthorpe - meaning disappointment for the Queen and for Frankie Dettori after Dartmouth and Lady Aurelia respectively fell the wrong side of the Judge’s rule.

Crowley secured the Ray Gilpin Award after riding four winners over the 25 contests - with course chiefs believing the fact no-one notched more suggests how competitive the racing was.

Drama also continued to the very last on Saturday, when the richest Apprentice race in Britain ended in a rare dead heat - both horses, Holmeswood and Intense Romance, being trained by Michael Dods while one of the young riders, Callum Rodriquez, had won the Betfred Ebor just 90 minutes earlier.

William Derby, chief executive and clerk of the course, said: “Ebor 2017 will undoubtedly be remembered for the wonderful equine performances and the human stories linked to them.

"The racecourse team of over 2,000 staff and partners has put in a huge amount of work and I am grateful to them, the horsemen, our sponsors and racegoers for their tremendous support of the meeting.”

The next action at York will be The Press Raceday on Sunday, September 10, when both the Pony Race Series and Paddington come to Knavesmire.