The Racecourse, York, YO23 1EX
Tel: 01904 620 911
York Corporation records show that the City first fully supported racing in 1530. In 1607, racing is known to have taken place on the frozen river Ouse, between Micklegate Tower and Skeldergate Postern.
The first detailed records of a race meeting date from 1709, when much work was done to improve the course at Clifton Ings which was prone to flooding. Despite this work, the flooding continued and in 1730 racing transferred to Knavesmire, where today’s course remains.
As its name implies, Knavesmire was a mire with a stream running through it and a considerable amount of levelling and draining was required to create the horseshoe shaped course, which opened for its first meeting in 1731.
No permanent buildings were erected on Knavesmire until the noted York architect, John Carr, designed and built the first Grandstand in 1754. This was financed by 250 people who each paid 5 guineas.
The York Racecourse Committee, (now part of York Racecourse Knavesmire LLP) still manages racing at York today, and was formed in 1842, to turn around a decline in the quality of racing. By 1846, the Committee had introduced the Gimcrack Stakes, which has since become one of York’s most enduring races.
York Races’ progression has been reflected in the development of the grandstands over the years.
New stands were erected in 1890 to incorporate much of the original building and a major improvement scheme, launched in 1962, led to the opening of the five-tier grandstand in 1965. The programme of development rolled on, and in 1989 the Melrose Stand opened, quickly followed by the award-winning Knavesmire Stand, with additional conference facilities in 1996. 2003 saw the opening of the Ebor Stand containing, amongst other features, the Nunthorpe Suite, kept on racedays for exclusive use by Annual Badgeholders.
In recent years York Racecourse, as well as hosting many spectacular York Races, has also played host to Royal Ascot at York in 2005 and the St Leger in 2006.