THE number of racegoers at York Racecourse's Ebor Festival 2021 is expected to surpass the 80,000 mark.

The four day racing spectacular saw an emotional win for Ben Coen's Sonnyboyliston; a £5,000 prize for a Yorkshire teacher and Great Habton's Tim Easterby earning fastest horse of the week with Winter Power. 

York Racecourse spokesman James Brennan said there was a "buzz about the place all week" with special guests like singer Olly Murs and ex rugby league player Eorl Crabtree.

Meanwhile Battaash - the recently retired two-time Coolmore Nunthorpe champion and course record-holder for the five-furlong trip - visited the Knavesmire on Friday. 

By kind permission of Sheikha Hissa Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Battaash completed a parade ahead of the feature sprint.

And, though the official count is yet to take place, the racecourse is expecting to surpass the number of visitors seen at the 2019 event - 83,000.

Read more: The winners in the Ebor fashion stakes

Like every other racecourse, York was hit hard by the pandemic and has been grateful to see the lifting of restrictions.

With attendances building towards the end of the week, Ebor day itself was sold out on the stands’ side of the track despite the weather.

York chief executive William Derby said: "We saw some brilliant action on the track, highlighted by the three Group Ones with world-class performances by the winners – Mishriff, Snowfall and Winter Power.

“They were special, each in their own right with their own story, plus the magic of Stradivarius on Friday winning an amazing race in the home straight.

“And also Battaash coming to parade (before the Nunthorpe). We were hugely grateful to Sheikha Hissa (Hamdan Al Maktoum).

"We wrote to her asking and she kindly agreed. Jim Crowley wore a jockey cam and you can see that on our Twitter feed. The packed crowd thoroughly enjoyed it.

“Winter Power for a local yard – she’d won here twice before. She’s a real local favourite taking on the best in the world in terms of Golden Pal and Suesa.

“And for Silvestre de Sousa, who was based at Thirsk, to win for King Power who’ve had such an amazing season and won the John Smith’s Cup with Johnny Drama. It was great.

“We’ve had some fantastic racing, Mark Johnston winning the Tattersalls Acomb was another one for a Yorkshire stable.”

He added: “We’ve been really encouraged by the response of the crowd to racing – the feeling of people being back and relieved to get back to live sporting events.

“This is the first time we’ve reached our capacity on the stands’ side for Ebor day.

“Real World gave us a great start to Saturday winning the Strensall Stakes and Sonnyboyliston winning the Ebor for Johnny Murtagh was fantastic.

“The crowd figures are there or thereabouts to our 2019 level. We had a record for a Friday at the Ebor Festival. Hopefully encouraged by Stradivarius, Battaash and an amazing Coolmore Nunthorpe.”

Meanwhile Mr Brennan said: "People were delighted to be back and wanted to be in familiar circumstances and do things they've loved doing for a long time and missed doing.

"It had a real buzz about the place all week - seeing people back taking selfies or some people just sitting listening to the brass band."

Read more: Photos of Saturday's best dressed racegoers 

Speaking on Saturday's torrential rain, he added: "It held off until about 20 minutes until the big race itself and then we got a downpour. 

"We had some miserable moments but it stayed quite warm."