THIRTY thousand fans have packed York Racecourse for the first time in almost two years.

Racegoers revelled at the chance to watch a series of races followed by a concert by pop band McFly on the second day of the course’s Music Showcase weekend yesterday.

The previous restrictions on numbers at race meetings - which saw races held behind closed doors last year and limited York’s capacity to 4,000 at meetings earlier this year - had been removed under the Government’s recent relaxation of Covid rules.Few wore masks or attempted to socially distance on Saturday.

A crowd of about 10,000 had watched the first day of the Music Showcase on Friday evening, involving a race programme followed by a performance by Rick Astley.

Rick tweeted later: “Fantastic evening at @yorkracecourse. Great to be on stage with my band again. Amazing crowd! Next stop @LatitudeFest!”

A racecourse spokesman said after yesterday’s meeting: “It’s lovely to see the smiles and hear the roar again.”

He said the decision to allow a large crowd to attend was in line with Government advice and rules, just as the racecourse had acted in line with such advice and rules when it had staged races behind closed doors last year and to small crowds earlier this year.

He said decisions on whether to wear a mask had become a personal choice and responsibility under the latest guidelines, and the racecourse had promoted this message to racegoers, as well as providing sanitiser stations.

He added that the importance of the racecourse to the York economy - estimated at £89 million per annum -could not be overlooked, including the knock-on benefits to local businesses.

For example, the course had once again been able to order pork pies from Ged Bell Butchers of Dringhouses and beers from Ainsty Ales of Acaster Malbis.