York Racecourse is celebrating a record-breaking season with more horses than ever before competing on the Knavesmire course.

This weekend’s two-day meeting saw the final race of the 2023 season – and tomorrow builders will move in to start preparing for the 2024 season.

Marketing manager James Brennan said of the final meeting: “It was a very nice memory for the team here and for the 20,000 plus here to take into the dark winter months.”

York Press: Racing at York in October 2023Racing at York in October 2023 (Image: Hannah Ali)

It will be 214 days before racehorses again come under starter’s orders in York.

Work on the £5 million upgrade to the south end of the racecourse starts immediately. It will improve facilities in the Grandstand and Paddock areas and includes new lawns, a canopy and extension to the Bustardthorpe Stand. It is expected to be finished by next summer. The racecourse is already taking bookings for the 2024 season.

York Press: The proposed development of York RacecourseThe proposed development of York Racecourse (Image: Pic supplied)

William Derby, Chief Executive and Clerk of the Course said, “The 2023 season has once again been characterised by both the tremendous performances we have witnessed on the track and the unstinting support of racegoers, connections and the wider team.

“Despite the undoubted economic challenges and the frustrations of rail disruption, the York Race Committee and I are hugely grateful and appreciative of the wonderful support everyone has shown to York.”.

The committee put up a record £10.75 million into the 2023 racing season, and got a record 1,498 runners, with an average field size of nearly 12 horses.

Mr Brennan said this was not just a reflection of the amount of prize money, but also showed owner’s and trainers’ appreciation of the facilities for both horses and humans at Knavesmire and the course in general.

The final total season’s attendance of 289,972, was up on 2022 attendance, despite the general cost of living squeeze and two of the summer Saturday meets being impacted by rail strikes.

York Press: Crowds at the 2023 October York meetingCrowds at the 2023 October York meeting (Image: Hannah Ali)

Mr Brennan said his racing highlight of the year was Frankie Dettori winning the Juddmonte International on Mostahdaf, the highest-rated turf horse outside Japan.  He went on to win twice on what may be his last ever  appearance in York. 

Off the racecourse, Mr Brennan singled out the visit by York racecourse equine ambassador Goldream (Remy), a former Group One winner, and Welsh pony Poppy to St Leonard’s Hospice in the summer to give “horsey hugs”.

As the York Press reported at the time, at least two of the patients were “visibly uplifted” by the visit.