Up to 800 racegoers attended yesterday’s meeting at the track just hours after it became possible for spectators to go racing again.
It was the first time that paying spectators had been present at the racecourse since the end of 2019 – the entire 2020 fixture list was effectively staged behind closed doors.
A crowd of 4,000 is expected at York this Saturday with some tickets still available via the racecourse’s website.
Sanderson praised the willingness of spectators to pre-book tickets. “It’s strange, but it’s good and exciting,” he said.
“It’s taking a little bit of reacclimatising to see people being here and walking round, but I think it’s fantastic and the weather is playing ball.
“Let’s hope this continues and we don’t go backwards in five weeks. It’s small steps. York will probably have 4,000 on Saturday, which proportionately will look about the same.
“We probably would expect the same sort of crowd for a Monday in May as we’ve got today in any case. The only difference is they’ve had to pay in advance whereas normally we’d only sell 10 per cent in advance and the rest would pay on the day depending on the weather.
“I think there is pent-up demand, which will probably wear off after two or three weeks, but then hopefully it will be steady away.”
Grangeclare View was a well-backed winner of the first race for Malton trainer Richard Fahey and jockey Tony Hamilton.
“It’s a bit funny seeing everybody here, but it’s great and significantly great for racing,” said the winnnig rider.
“You honestly wouldn’t know in the race if there’s nobody there or if there’s a crowd, but before and after it’s the difference.
“Walking back in after the race, getting a round of applause, these are all the things we’ve missed.
“It’s great, it really is, having an atmosphere back on course – we’ve all missed it.”
Meanwhile Ballydoyle trainer Aidan O’Brien is anticipating plenty of improvement from High Definition following his seasonal bow at York last week.
The Cazoo Derby entry finished third in the Dante after a planned outing in the Lingfield Derby Trial was scuppered by an unsatisfactory blood test.
High Definition, who won each of his two juvenile starts, came from off the pace on the Knavesmire in a race won by Hurricane Lane, and O’Brien felt the way the race unfolded was possibly not ideal for his charge.
He said: “High Definition is in good form. He hasn’t done much since York. I was very happy. Four days before he wasn’t going to run and he’ll come forward plenty. Ryan (Moore) was very happy with him.
“The pace died a bit in the middle and it might have suited if it had stayed strong.”
Meanwhile champion trainer John Gosden would like to test top miler Palace Pier over 10 furlongs in York’s Juddmonte International this August.
Frankie Dettori’s mount was a sublime winner of Newbury’s Lockinge Stakes on Saturday, surging clear of a high quality field with contemptuous ease, and Gosden said: “I think the Juddmonte would be a strong possibility, but there is a little race in France called the Prix Jacques le Marois at the same time, although getting to France is quite difficult now.”
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