A POPULAR York pub has declared itself 'a race-goer free' zone.

With The Dante Festival currently underway at York Racecourse, staff at The Golden Ball in Bishophill have taken the decision to restrict entry as part of a trial.

On their social media, the pub say: "We will be a race-goers-free-pub this week as a trial.

"Golden Ball regulars rejoice!

"We feel the races often detracts our lovely regulars from visiting the pub on race days, so we wanted to give you a safe haven.

"Let us know your thoughts on this. Looking forward to seeing you all. Big Love from all the staff at the Golden Ball."

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The hugely-popular pub became York’s first community pub ten years ago, and is run as a co-operative with nearly 200 members.

The Golden Ball was first mentioned as a pub in 1773 so has a rich history.

It is also recognised for having the only known example of a bar-side seating alcove  and many original 1930s fixtures.

The author Charles Dickens frequented the pub and many people have moved to the area due to their love of the pub. 

York Press: Flashback to when The Golden Ball became a cooperativeFlashback to when The Golden Ball became a cooperative

This year’s Dante Festival, the three-day horse racing event at Knavesmire, started on Wednesday (May 17) and runs till Friday (May 19) with the prize money totalling £1.425 million.

It is a near six-figure increase on 2022, with every race worth £25,000 or more.

The festival attracts crowds of thousands from across the region and beyond every year many of whom wend their way to the city's pubs and bars after a day at the races.

Friday’s principal race, The Yorkshire Cup, also offers a record prize of £180,000, thanks to the help of new sponsor, the jewellery brand, Boodles.

York Press: The Dante Festival at York RacecourseThe Dante Festival at York Racecourse

Today and tomorrow, racegoers have the chance to meet retired racehorse Remy, better known as Goldream, the dual Group One winning sprinter for Robert Cowell.

He will be there to represent York charity New Beginnings, which care for horses who have retired from racing.

The new racing season also sees the opening of a Theakston’s backed cask ale pub, The Flying Frankie.

Racegoers will also find the main racegoer restaurant, the York Kitchen and Café – formerly known as the Grandstand and Paddock.

The new name nods to the homemade signature dishes on offer, which include deep filled Yorkshire Puddings.

There are also takeaway food options in the County Stand, and customers can scan a QR code to order drinks from the Champagne Lawn.

Before the racing begins, racegoers can take part in guided behind the scenes tours led by former professional jockey and winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Robert Earnshaw, who will help to explain the sport.

York Racecourse will be supporting Racing Welfare in its Mental Health Awareness week throughout the festival.