ABOUT 12,000 racing fans turned up to York Racecourse on the second day of the Dante Festival on Thursday, as the rain stayed away and the sun shone down.

Racecourse spokesman James Brennan said some ventured with their picnics to The Clocktower Enclosure, a grassed infield area running parallel to the final furlong of the track which has just undergone a £5 million improvement scheme, including two new toilet blocks, twin canopies offering catering and betting facilities and improved access.

Mr Brennan expected more to head for the enclosure today after forecasters predicted temperatures are set to rise to 18C amid long sunny spells, and he anticipated a total crowd over the three days of as many as 36,000.

He stressed that following the revamp, racegoers were being reminded to bring picnics and not barbecues to the enclosure.