York Racecourse: A Historic Hub Powering Tourism, Economy, and Community in York

York Racecourse is one of the biggest in the country and plays a significant role in the local area’s tourism. Big sporting events always pull in spectators from near and far, with the appeal of revelling in the sports action, soaking up, and being part of a fantastic atmosphere and history.

The importance of York Racecourse to the area is immense, and it is easy to overlook. There’s not only the money generated by the racetrack itself, but surrounding hotels, restaurants and more all benefit from its presence.

The link between the city and horseracing stretches back to Roman times, and the award-winning York Racecourse now hosts three of Britain’s most significant flat racing events. As one of the famous racecourses to appear on legal horse racing betting sites, action at the venue naturally generates plenty of wagering turnover.

But to what degree does the venue have an overall influence on the city of York?

The Influence of Horse Racing

Horse racing is a huge boost to the UK’s overall economy. During the Gambling Act review, the Government reported that horse racing contributes more than £4 billion to the UK economy and generates around £1,5 billion in revenue.

This influence of one of the country’s most popular sports is significant. The Horserace Betting Levy Board released a number stating that 4.8 million people attend live horse racing events annually.

York’s Most Famous Meeting

As for York, it hosts 18 race days across the summer and autumn, and the biggest and best of those York Racecourse events is the Ebor Festival. The four-day festival is one of the highlights of the flat racing calendar, typically hosted in mid to late August.

The meeting, first held in 1843, is still going strong today and has a host of leading races. Along with the Juddmonte National, Great Voltigeur, Yorkshire Oaks, Nunthorpe Stakes, and the Gimcrack Stakes, the meeting’s top-billed race on the final day is the Ebor Handicap.

The Ebor Handicap is one of Europe’s leading handicap races, run over 1 mile and 5 furlongs. It remains the most valuable flat handicap on the continent, breaking the £1,000,000 prize money barrier in 2019. It set a new British record as the first race to offer that prize money.

York Racecourse’s Big Days of Racing:

  • May Spring Meeting
  • June Meeting
  • John Smiths’ Cup Meeting
  • Ebor Festival
  • Yorkmix Family Sunday
  • October Finale

The Numbers of York Racecourse

York Racecourse is one of the most aesthetically beautiful racing venues in the UK, with its instantly recognisable iconic grandstands, listed buildings, flowers and perfectly manicured lawns that scatter the venue.

Across York Racecourse’s 18-day season, around 350,000 racegoers pour through the gates on average annually. That’s not just from the local area; racing fans travel the length and breadth of the country to attend, as well as from across the Irish Sea.

More than 100 workers are employed to run the Yorkshire Racecourse show, which contributes to the local job scene. When big race days like the one at the Ebor Festival are in focus, that can generate a spike in hotel rooms, transportation, local restaurants, shops, and more.

The providers that supply goods to the Racecourse itself are another massive area of the economy, with the preference for those being local businesses in and around York. It’s reported that the operations at York Racecourse amount to around £58 million per annum for the City. 

More than Racing

York Racecourse hosts more than just racing as well. It is a venue for Conferences, private events, weddings and Christmas Parties. The venue also hosts music concerts and theatre shows. So it’s a multipurpose location for the community, well beyond just racing.

The Giving Side

York Racecourse contributes more than just exciting days of top flat racing. It is a big part of the community, and as a venue steeped in tremendous history, the location on the city’s southwest side is easily accessible.

Besides the famous “Knavesmire” location hosting three big Group 1 races, there is also a giving side to York Racecourse, as it often hosts charitable events for the likes of Macmillan and Racing Welfare. It also links local charities and community groups through the York Racecourse local Community Partnership.