A roaring start to one of the most anticipated racing festivals

IT IS one of the most anticipated race meetings of the season, and the Ebor Festival got off to a roaring start yesterday.

Racegoer Ian Abbott festooned in badges on his binoculars at York's Knavesmire to watch the first day of York Ebor races. Picture Tony Johnson.

The opening day of the four-day festival at York Racecourse, which dates back to the 1840s, saw Roaring Lion win the highest-profile ace of the day, the £1m Juddmonte International, but the racecourse itself proved to be another winner, securing a headline sponsor for a further three years.

The region’s tourism agency, Welcome to Yorkshire has signed a new contract to extend its partnership with the festival, which began in 2010, to 2021. The annual festival this year boasts a record prize pot approaching £5m, and attracts top rated horses, jockey and trainers from around the world.

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Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive, Sir Gary Verity said the festival is one of the world’s “most illustrious horse racing events”.

Racegoers make their decisions at York's Knavesmire on the first day of York Ebor races. Picture Tony Johnson.

“We have built a tremendous working relationship with the team at York Racecourse over the last eight years and the Festival continues to go from strength to strength,” he said.

“The live daily coverage on ITV1 has given the racing some fantastic exposure here in the UK, and the event is now broadcast in over 30 countries. That means millions of people are getting to see Yorkshire as a world-class horse racing destination and Welcome to Yorkshire is thrilled to be part of that.”

Chief executive and clerk of the course at York Racecourse, William Derby, said: “The success of our feature festival is firmly rooted in the Yorkshire values of hard work and partnership, sprinkled with innovation and a sense of humour; precisely why it works so well with Welcome to Yorkshire.”

Today the festival will see its social highlight, Ladies Day, with racing continuing until Saturday when the festival will conclude with the Ebor Handicap – one of the sport’s oldest races.

Racegoers arrive at York's Knavesmire to watch the first day of York Ebor races. Picture Tony Johnson.