Winning start to the style stakes at Yorkshire Ebor Festival

Cafolin Campbell at the races. PIC: Simon Hulme
Cafolin Campbell at the races. PIC: Simon Hulme
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Cafolin Campbell, this radiant racegoer with a fuchsia rose hat, was the clear winner of the style stakes on day one of the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival.

She was among the huge crowds who flocked to York Racecourse’s tree-lined paddock to catch a glimpse of the Epsom Derby winner, Australia, before the champion colt galloped to a heartwarming victory in the feature Juddmonte International.

This is an uniquely British event where Flat racing’s glitterati compete for record prize money of £3.5m over four days at this great celebration of Yorkshire hospitality and fashion.

Juddmonte Day is normally reserved for the racing connoisseurs – the pace hots up today with Ladies’ Day. It was why Sir Alex Ferguson, the now retired Manchester United manager, was so effusive in his praise – he co-owns Telescope who was a creditable third to Australia in the feature.

Still chewing gum, though less ruddy-faced now he no longer has the weight of expectation of the Old Trafford faithful on his shoulders, he told The Yorkshire Post: “I love racing at York – the people, the racing. You can’t beat it.”

It is testament to the genteel nature of the crowd that Sir Alex could walk through the enclosures without an entourage, even if there is no longer a swagger in his strut.

He offered his support to the North Yorkshire trainer Jack Berry, the driving force behind a rehabilitation centre for injured jockeys that is being built in Malton, and caught up with former Man Utd striker Michael Owen, who was representing the racing broadcaster Racing UK.

The friendliness of York was epitomised by the warmth of the greeting afforded to Derek Thompson, the racing broadcaster who grew up in Guisborough, from a lift attendant. “Hello Derek, lovely to see you,” she said.

He was able to inform her, and other racegoers, that he was recently given the all-clear following long-running treatment for cancer. “Thank you for asking,” said ‘Tommo’ with a winning smile that is much missed on Channel Four Racing.

Yet perhaps the proudest man was York chairman Lord Grimthorpe, who grew up in Westow and was made a junior member of the iconic track in the 1960s by the then-clerk, David Swannell.

He has enjoyed many memorable days as Prince Khalid Abdullah’s racing manager, not least with the legendary Frankel and Kingman this summer, but says there is something unique about the Knavesmire in high summer under blue skies. “It’s the premier meeting of the year,” said Lord Grimthorpe. No one would dare to bet against him.