Friday offers the chance to race into the weekend, perhaps enjoying a short break in historic York or the wider White Rose county.
The fastest race of the season, the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes, often decides the accolade of leading sprinter. Last year’s race saw Sole Power take the title as a surprise 100–1 winner and he looks set defend his title at a much lower price. This year, champion golfer Lee Westwood owns a fancied contender in Hoof It: trained in North Yorkshire by Mick Easterby, the flying colt is already a two-time winner on the Knavesmire this season.
- The Racing UK On Sky Bet Mobile Stakes Another fascinating handicap, this time over the extended mile and a half, which is one of a trio of races to gain support from the Leeds-based online betting brand. It attracts well-known performers from this category in the past such as Smokey Oakey, a thoroughbred owned by York-born actress, Dame Judi Dench.
- The Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Gimcrack Stakes Two-year-old colts with Classic aspirations will compete in one of Britain’s best-known races. First held on the Knavesmire in 1846, this Group 2 contest enjoys the support of Irish Thoroughbred Marketing for the fifth year and Aidan O’Brien’s Irish raiders will be eyeing the prize fund of £140,000; which makes it the richest Group 2 for juveniles in Britain. Tradition once demanded that the winning owner provided ‘six dozen of champagne to the Gimcrack Club Dinner’. Many years have passed since the successful owner fulfilled that obligation; however, he or she is still invited to provide a keynote speech at the Dinner in December. Willie Haggas, trainer of Approve, rose to the challenge after success in 2010.
- The Sky Bet Strensall Stakes Another contest boosted in prize money since it was added to the festival from a September slot, this year a £75,000 Group 3 contest over nine furlongs is likely to attract horses from the leading stables of Aidan O’Brien, Sir Michael Stoute and Godolphin; the latter having previously won back-to-back runnings with Echo Of Light.
- The Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes Europe’s leading sprinters will be on display as they attempt to win one of the top Group 1 races in the calendar. Sponsored once again by the renowned Irish breeding operation. A sprint of international quality, it is the only race in Europe that earns the winner an automatic entry to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint in the USA. Hoof It, already a two-time York winner this season may well represent training legend Mick Easterby and owner as well as top golfer, Lee Westwood. Some great sprinters have won this race in the past; expect another rip-roaring renewal.
- The Sky Bet Mobile Convivial Maiden Stakes The richest Maiden race in the UK calendar, two-year-olds face the starter in this contest over seven furlongs chasing £25,000. The Racing Post Yearling Bonus of a further £10,000 is on offer if the winner is qualified.
- The EBF Big Bad Paul’s Big 50th Fillies Stakes The weekend beckons with a seven furlong contest for fillies that teams the ongoing support from the European Breeders’ Fund with family celebration; will a Yorkshire yard be celebrating landing the £18,000 in prize money?