Crowds turn out in force for day one of York Racecourse's Dante Festival

VISITORS TO York Racecourse's three-day Dante Festival turned out for the start of the summer season in relatively cool conditions yesterday.

Racegoers Elaine Chapman and John Ellis are dressed to impress. PIC: Simon Hulme

Knavesmire hosted the event, for which £8m has been invested over the season in prize money – up £500,000 – as well as two new contests.

The course’s redeveloped and renamed Clocktower Enclosure has been opened amid 
ongoing improvements at the site.

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Prize money over the three days of the festival, which began yesterday, has risen for the seventh year in succession to £1.2m, and every race is worth £20,000 or more. With a feature race on each day sitting within the top 250 contests in the world, according to the organisers, the York season begins with “a feast of top quality racing”.

The Dante, the race that gives the festival its name by honouring the last Yorkshire trained winner of the derby back in 1945, is staged today.

The winner has gone on to win the Investec Derby 10 times, with Golden Horn the last to achieve that double.

The new season at the racecourse has seen the launch of a £5m improvement scheme to the grassed infield area.