York Racecourse Improvements Approved and Underway
York Racecourse is steeped in history and this will never change. What is changing is the venue itself, with upgrades to improve the south end of the famous course now approved and underway.
The Northern End of the racecourse was already upgraded between 2013 and 2015. Then improvements to the Clocktower Enclosure took place in 2018. It makes logical sense that the Southern End now receives similar treatment.
“The York Race Committee have a clear vision to ensure York remains one of the world’s best racecourses and it has a track record of investing in the facilities, race programme and visitor experience,” said William Derby, York Racecourse’s Chief Executive and Clerk of the Course.
What Will Change
Regular York patrons will be familiar with facilities at the southern end. Planners minimise the demolition of existing buildings but some don’t have “architectural merit”. As such, the process will replace these, albeit with a fair amount of nostalgic sympathy.
The existing tote building and cabin will face demolition, as does one of the staff facilities buildings. The Vats Bar and the famous Fish and Chip Shop won’t escape the wrecking ball treatment either.
The existing pop-up Roberto Village Bar will also go. Thirsty punters will, no doubt, appreciate the permanent single-storey bar that will replace it. The new bar will also conveniently house the Tote, along with other facilities lost during the demolition process.
Plans are to revamp the existing 1913 Bustardthorpe Stand while replacing its 1950s rear extension. This, and other new extensions at the rear will provide extra space. This space will incorporate an updated Theakston Bar, William Hill Betting Shop, and more toilets and staff facilities.
The improvements will include a new fashion lawn and a social lawn. Each will come equipped with overarching canopies like the one already covering the John Carr Terrace. Last but not least there’ll be entrance improvements too. Feature gates and advanced accessibility will supply racegoers with a better arrival experience.
Will the Construction Affect Racing?
With construction already underway, there are unlikely to be any marked effects on York’s race days. In fact, the York Race Committee hope for a much-improved racegoer horseracing experience for the upcoming season.
“As a summer venue, we want to provide lawns to enjoy, however we are mindful of the Yorkshire weather so we are looking to repeat the success of the canopy that sits above the John Carr Terrace.
Practical concerns around a better arrival experience, more loos and easier access to both food and drinks and how we better support our raceday team, all form part of this ambitious scheme.
It remains subject to the proper planning process, however we are keen to deliver these improvements for the busy racedays of 2024,” Derby said.
This bodes well for the Knavesmire course, which offers the UK racing’s third-richest prize stakes. The Juddmonte International Stakes, Nunthorpe Stakes and Yorkshire Oaks are York’s three Group 1 races. Any disruption to these events or others would hamper some of the famous course’s 350,000 patrons’ racing and punting experiences.
The 2024 racing calendar at York Racecourse kicks off with the Dante Festival on 15 May – the Group 2 Dante Stakes being its feature race. With a brand new Southern End, York will look to enjoy as much on-course activity during the festival as you’ll find on the many betting sites in the UK.
In August, the Ebor Festival hopes to welcome back twice-winner Kinross to the City of York Stakes on 24 August. Organisers hope the race may be a Group 1 event in 2024, making it a fitting back-up to the festival’s feature race, the Yorkshire Oaks. Online punters should check their sportsbooks closer to the date to update themselves on competing runners and the odds on offer.