YORK'S racing season came to an end today with a last-raceday record crowd of 22,326 - and hopes of a more 'normal' season next year.

It has been a stop-start season, with early crowds restricted by Covid - but some record attendances too.

The season-opening Dante Festival in May was held behind closed doors and racing in June and early July was limited to just 4,000 racegoers.

But as well as today's end-of-season record crowd, there was a record attendance on the Friday of the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival.

"In total, more than 192,000 people attended racing on the Knavesmire this season, under the various protocols in operation through the year," a racecourse spkesperson said.

Despite the restrictions, racegoers have witnessed some great action, the spokesperson said, with some of the best horses in the world competing in 122 races over 18 racedays.

Season highlights have inluded the performances of Hurricane Lane and Snowfall in winning at the Dante Festival; Mishriff winning the Juddmonte International and, in doing so, being rated among the best horses on the planet; and Stradivarius winning his fifth victory in York at the Ebor Festival.

Meanwhile, the Macmillan Charity Raceday in June, alongside the Ernest Cooper Ride of Their Lives - which was switched to September - and the Hopes and Dreams Macmillan Ball at the Racecourse, raised more than £285,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support and other local and racing charities. 

York Press:

York Racecourse chief executive William Derby

William Derby, the racecourse's chief executive and clerk of the course, said: “The 2021 season has been characterised by both the tremendous performances we have witnessed on the track and the unstinting support of racegoers...seeing us transit from behind closed doors racing in May through the gradual return of crowds to the record breaking racedays during August and the autumn.

"After the challenges of 2020, the York Race Committee and I are hugely grateful and appreciative of the wonderful and joyous resumption of more normal racedays at York, and the enthusiasm and support everyone has shown to York since we were allowed to return.

“We were delighted that since the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival, we have been able to return prize money to near pre-pandemic record levels and to continue to invest in facilities and the experience for racegoers, connections and racing staff.

“We very much look forward to racing returning to York on 11 May 2022 and hopefully a more settled and 'normal' race season.”