Last week saw the start of the racing season at Beverley Racecourse but while the venue was shut over the winter, some £650,000 has been spent on improving the facilities for racegoers.
Marketing executive Kate McKee said: “Each year we choose a big project and this time it was the turn of the premier enclosure. We have re-done the two bars, 1690 and The Terrace, and this year the enclosure will also include a Laurent Perrier champagne bar.”
She hopes that some quirky new additions, hanging from the ceiling of the new premier enclosure, will be a particular talking point.
Miss McKee said: “We like to throw ideas around and suggest unusual things. Sally suggested buying some carousel horses and using them for decoration, so we bought some off eBay and have had them painted up.”
The marketing team has also been working on something special for the annual Ladies Day this year, commissioning local celebrity fashion designer Lara Jensen to paint a grey Andalusian stallion belonging to Mark Atkinson Action Horses.
The design for the paint work is intended to reflect the glamour and elegance of Ladies Day.
Mr Atkinson’s son Ben rode the horse through Hull last Saturday, starting at St Stephens Shopping Centre and ending at the City Hall to coincide with the end of Hull Fashion Week.
Miss McKee said: “We wanted to do something spectacular to begin the countdown to Ladies Day. Painted horses have become very popular in the last year, with people often painting the skeleton on the outside to show the muscles and bones and we wanted to use a painted horse to publicise our event.”
The painted horse will be paraded through St Stephens shopping centre on June 27 and will be ridden, bareback and bridle-less, past the grandstand at Beverley on July 20.
The stallion will be surrounded by an entourage of glamorous models to capture the spirit of Ladies Day, which this year falls on August 12.
While the racecourse has been closed, the team has also been reaching out to the local community.
Alongside Ladies Day, there are three other themed days planned.
The first event is the family-friendly May Day Race Day on May 4, which includes a mini petting zoo, maypole dancing and ferret racing.
The second event is ‘A Very British Race Day’ on May 23. The first race will see jockeys swapping their usual steeds for donkeys and racing the final furlong. This meeting also includes one of Beverley’s most prominent races, the Hilary Needler Trophy, traditionally used by trainers to test out their two-year-old fillies before they debut at Royal Ascot.
After the racing finishes, racegoers will be handed song sheets and flags for a mini proms-style sing-along.
The third and final themed event of the year at Beverley will be the ‘Laurent Perrier Evening of the Horse’ on June 16, which sees all sorts of breeds of horses paraded around the paddock and then led or ridden along the course to line up in front of the grandstand.
Commentator Malcolm Tomlinson then reads the famous ‘Ode to the Horse’.
Miss McKee said: “Last year was the first time we ran this event and it was very popular. We’re going to have lots more horse breeds, as we want to truly celebrate every type of horse.”
Other upgrades to the racecourse include a new sprinkler system, a new digital information board and ground work in the course enclosure.