TWO weeks ago, millions of people engulfed Yorkshire for the start of the Tour De France.
The White Rose county is blessed with a certain je ne sais quoi at present.
Little wonder then that Graham Orange is particularly excited about 2014’s Go Racing In Yorkshire Summer Festival as Ripon races await their own version of the ‘Grand Départ’ today.
Now in its seventh year, the Go Racing In Yorkshire Summer Festival takes in nine meetings at eight of Yorkshire’s nine courses over the next nine days.
Wetherby is the only course not to stage a fixture but the A1 track plays a starring role in Tuesday’s ‘Ultimate Racing Experience’ with a behind-the-scenes tour of the venue following visits to the Middleham stables of Karl Burke and Phil Kirby.
There is even lunch at the Richard III hotel thrown in, too.
Go Racing In Yorkshire’s publicity officer Orange is thrilled at the appetite for racing in ‘God’s Own County’ with the Festival set to attract 100,000 racegoers over the next eight days.
It is not only the racing which will entertain the Yorkshire public.
Life’s a beach as far as racegoers are concerned with The Beach Boys performing after racing at York next Friday evening and Wet Wet Wet set to get the juices flowing after next Saturday’s card on Knavesmire.
The popular bands form part of York’s two-day Music Showcase meeting with Saturday’s Sky Bet York Stakes the highlight as far as the racing is concerned.
Orange is thrilled with the Yorkshire support for the Sport Of Kings with the Go Racing In Yorkshire team now hoping the sport embraces the county’s feel-good factor following on from the Grand Départ.
Orange told The Yorkshire Post: “It’s been a great sporting summer for the county of Yorkshire and we want to make sure that we take advantage of that.
“The Grand Départ was just wonderful, it really was and of course that involved York racecourse because the second stage of the Grand Départ started from there.
“So we want to tap into that in the seventh annual Go Racing In Yorkshire Summer Festival.
“It’s growing all the time and it’s just our way of keeping racing to the forefront and making people aware to the sport of racing and not just the regular racegoer but new racegoers as well.
“Because we have all of these courses in action during this week, it seems a good idea to promote racing in this way and it’s just about showing people what it is that we do. That’s the top and bottom of it really.”
Yorkshire’s ‘Garden Racecourse’, Ripon, gets the ball rolling with a 2pm start today where racegoers at the main entrances will be greeted by stilt walkers.
Go Racing in Yorkshire will also be hosting a new interactive Racing Roadshow complete with mechanical horse – the roadshow designed to entertain and engage racegoers in finding out more about the equine and human stars of the sport.
There is also the chance to win a VIP day out at the final day of the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival at York next month – including a £200 bet with Sky Bet – in a special racecard competition running throughout the Festival.
This afternoon’s main race is The Ripon Bell-Ringer Handicap Stakes, a £25,000 contest over a mile-and-a-half, in which Newmarket-based William Haggas runs a strong contender in Gold Approach.
There will also be some famous faces on show this afternoon with members of Leeds Rhinos rugby league team presenting the prizes after the card’s second race – the EBF Stallions Yorkshire.com Maiden Stakes.
Throughout the week, former racehorses now under the care of ‘New Beginnings’ will also be in attendance.
After Ripon’s very own Grand Départ, the show moves on to Redcar tomorrow – a special Family Fun Day which is also part of Redcar’s support for the ‘Help For Heroes’ charity concerning the armed forces.
A feature of Sunday’s Redcar card is the Go Racing In Yorkshire Future Stars Apprentice Series – held on the eight Yorkshire courses which stage Flat racing and culminating in a final at Doncaster in November.
After the first four legs of the series, Megan Carberry leads the way with 45 points, followed by Claire Murray 24 points. A win is worth 18 points.
From Redcar it is then onwards to Monday night’s card at Beverley where models will be displaying the latest fashions from podiums throughout the enclosures to highlight the forthcoming St Stephen’s Style Event on Journal Ladies Day on Wednesday, August 13.
The fourth day of the Festival features no racing as such, though Tuesday is anything but a day of rest thanks to the ‘Ultimate Racing Experience’ at Middleham.
Starting out at Wetherby Racecourse at 8am and priced at just £25 per person, racing enthusiasts can enjoy visits to the stables of Burke and Kirby followed by a paid-for light lunch at the Richard III Hotel in Middleham.
Lunch is followed by a return to Wetherby Racecourse for a behind-the-scenes tour of the A1 track which finishes at 3.45pm.
The ‘Ultimate Racing Experience’ is a new introduction to the Festival and is proving extremely popular.
Wednesday’s return to action at Catterick is followed by Doncaster’s Thursday evening meeting where residents of Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire can enjoy free access into the Family Enclosure and discounted admission into other enclosures on a pre-booked basis.
Racegoers are then spolit for choice next Friday with Thirsk’s afternoon fixture followed by York’s two-day Musical Showcase Meeting.
After a Saturday to remember, the Festival concludes with Sunday’s card at Pontefract.
Orange reasoned: “Last year we attracted 100,000 to the Festival and we are hoping to do the same this year.
“Of course it depends on the weather to a great extent but we are hoping that we can do it as the Festival is growing in momentum and Yorkshire racing is something that we are very proud of.
“Remember, last year on the Yorkshire courses we attracted one million racegoers – that was our total attendance.
“We have achieved that before but only in very good years. When you think in terms of British racing, the yearly attendance is around six million and we produce a million of that – it just goes to show that Yorkshire is very much a racing county.
“The origins of the modern thoroughbred began in Yorkshire and Yorkshire people are, generally speaking, great supporters of racing.
“It’s worth celebrating that.”
To book a place on Tuesday’s ‘Ultimate Racing Experience’ call 01937 580051.