York & North Yorkshire

York's Ebor meeting pulls in the crowds

Racing at York. Copyright: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire.
Image caption The average attendance at York racecourse is 20,000 but that figure can double for the major festivals

More than 90,000 people are expected in York for the annual four-day Ebor meeting which started on Wednesday.

The meeting, first held in 1843, is one of the richest in the north of England and offers total prize money of £2.7m.

Research by Sheffield Hallam University suggested earlier this year that York racecourse contributes almost £60m to the regional economy.

The festival is usually held mid-week but organisers have moved it this year to include a Saturday.

William Derby, chief executive of York racecourse, said: "What is behind the move is that most people work Monday to Friday and our big festivals, the Dante in May and the Ebor in August, were both mid-week."

Mr Derby said they wanted to engage a new generation of racegoers.

"This is a huge event, that goes out across the world and we hope people will be able to enjoy Europe's richest handicap on a Saturday for the first time," he added.

The Sheffield Hallam University report said of the £60m contributed by York racecourse to the economy almost £17m was in off-course spending.

Gary Verity, the chief executive of the regional tourism agency Welcome to Yorkshire, said: "That money is going into shops, restaurants, hairdressers, bed and breakfasts, taxis and hotels. Racing is really doing its bit for Yorkshire's economy."

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