A popular racing festival is back at York Racecourse to kick off this year’s season with record prize money to be won.

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.

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Wednesday’s Group 3 Tattersalls Musidora offered winnings of up to £130,000, while the Group 2 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante race on Thursday offers a record prize of £180,000.

York Press: Wednesday's Dante FestivalWednesday's Dante Festival (Image: Hannah Ali)

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.

Speaking on the first day of the Dante Festival, James Brennan, of York Racecourse, said: "The gates are open, people are arriving in the sunshine so are able to enjoy the lawns.

York Press: York Dante Festival York Dante Festival (Image: Hannah Ali)

"With around £500,000 on offer in prize money across the seven races, there is much to look forward to.

"We hope for more of the same on Thursday and Friday, so people are encouraged to come down and pay on the gates.

"Children are free and it is just £8 for adults into the Clocktower Enclosure."

York Press: York Dante FestivalYork Dante Festival (Image: Hannah Ali)

On Thursday and Friday, 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.

York Press: The Flying Frankie pubThe Flying Frankie pub (Image: Hannah Ali)

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.