FASHION took centre stage on Day 2 of the Ebor Festival at York racecourse today. But what else would you expect on Ladies Day?

Racecourse spokesman James Brennan admitted there was always something special about Ladies Day. It's a day that the once-a-year or first-time fashion-conscious racegoer looks forward to, he said. And the Ebor fashion lawn, sponsored by York Gin, was really being put through its paces today.

"It has been nice to see the groups of ladies, and the buzz coming off the Ebor fashion lawn," he said. "It is always a fantastic day."

There has been some serious horse racing too, of course - with Zain Claudette, ridden by jockey Ray Dawson, among the early winners in the Sky Bet Lowther Stakes. But the real winner has been the racecourse itself.

With Covid restrictions largely a thing of the past, more than 20,000 people are expected to be at the races today, on top of the 17,000 yesterday.

There is still an emphasis on personal responsibility, Mr Brennan stressed - with plenty of hand cleaning points, and punters advised to wear facemasks at crowded pinchpoints. But that apart, it is racing almost as normal.

There is still plenty to look forward to in the remainder of the four-day festival, too.

The Juddmonte International - won on Wednesday by favourite Mishriff - is the best race of the Festival, Mr Brennan said.

York Press:

Mishriff, ridden by David Egan, winning the Juddmonte International on the opening day of the Ebor Festival. Picture: Nigel French/PA

But tomorrow sees the fastest race - the Nunthorpe Stakes. And on Saturday it is the Ebor festival's most famous race: the Ebor handicap. "It was first run back in 1843," Mr Brennan said. "It's a handicap race, so in theory there will be 22 runners with an equal chance of winning, and 22 sets of colourful silks."

Even better, the race will decide which of 22 community heroes - people who have helped make their friends', neighbours' or family’s lives better during the pandemic - will walk away with £5,000 for themselves, and £15,000 for their chosen charity.

Each of the heroes will be assigned a horse in the race - with the winner taking the prize...

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