A proper racecourse

Last week I went to York for Dante day.

I must say York racecourse sets the standard for what a good racecourse should offer. It is hard to fault them to be honest. Admission prices are ok – if anything I was slightly surprised that there was hardly any difference between the online price and the on the day price (£1 cheaper buying on line) – so I didn’t buy until I got there.

Rail tickets are cheap enough, especially if you can book in advance and the service from Kings Cross is generally excellent, notwithstanding the forthcoming renationalisation. The journeys there and back both took less than two hours each which is excellent – just about enough time to read the Racing Post and start to study the form.

With good weather the city of York is a great place to wander around, and then to take a nice stroll down to the racecourse. And once you are in the fun really start. The racing itself is without question excellent. Well balanced cards, full of quality, good horses charging down the Knavesmire with great views, from any number of vantage points. And maybe we saw a Derby winner in the Dante, with Roaring Lion too good in what had looked a competitive race. Though whether his Derby will be at Epsom or Chantilly we will wait to see. My guess is it will be over to France.

Getting a drink is easy from numerous bars and there were plenty of places to grab a seat or a table and enjoy that drink. And the prices are excellent. A bottle of champagne (if that’s your thing) was typically around the £40 mark, probably half as much as it would be at the southern tracks. We ate in the Gimcrack restaurant (no reservations needed – just first come first served), and again excellent value with a three course meal (with choices) for around £30. That’s great value – and the food was very good.

So whether it was the racing itself, the food and drink before, during or after racing or the general environment – York racecourse scores consistently highly – and most of the other grade one courses could learn plenty of lessons from it.

I doubt I’ll be back again this year regrettably, but look forward to the next time I can come.

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