Guide to the York Ebor Festival 2011

The oldest, richest, fastest, and most famous races of the York season provide sporting excellence combined with fashion and fun over four fabulous days, including a weekend running of the Betfred Ebor for the first time on a Saturday, 20th August 2011. Over £2.7 million in prize money is on offer.

The traditional highlight of the season on the Knavesmire will commence on Wednesday 17th August and conclude on Saturday 20th August.

Saturday means the Betfred Ebor, the oldest and probably most famous race at York, while every day of the festival sees a contest in the QIPCO British Champions Series with the three Group Ones and the Weatherbys Insurance Lonsdale Stakes all part of the series. The international standing of the races and the horses is proven by bonus connections to both the Breeders’ Cup Challenge in Kentucky and big bonus prizes in Japan.

There is entertainment off the track throughout the four days, with the Saltaire Band and Murphies Marbles providing live music, equine art from both the Horse Box Gallery and Osborne Gallery. Horses in sculpture can be seen with both ‘Mare and Foal’ – the latest willow creation from Emma Stothard’s acclaimed collection; as well as ‘thoroughbred food’ – building on last year’s design this will showcase Yorkshire fresh produce by creating a horse sculpture from the ingredients used at the track. On Thursday the RAF Falcons parachute display team are due to drop in.

On all four days there will be a real sense of fashion, and the racecourse is delighted to be working with Debenhams for the first UK running of Fashion on the Field. One of the most famous names in British fashion,  Jeff Banks, is supporting this event, which has proven hugely popular at the Melbourne Cup combining designers from the leading store with fabulous fashion from the racegoers. Judges during the week look likely to include Ben de Lisi, John Rocha and Matthew Williamson. Everyday will see fantastic prizes from the likes of Moet Champagne. While on Thursday Marriott Hotels offer a trip to Dubai and Saturday sees the winner jet off to the Caribbean for a holiday in Saint Vincent.

There are also prizes for the Leading Jockey of the Festival backed by Sky Bet and the White Rose Award where Living North magazine will provide a specially commissioned sculpture for the stand-out performance of the four days; Sir Henry Cecil was the 2010 winner.

Racegoers will be able to follow the action in HD around the track as well as on six big screens, and can use their smartphones to watch clips of last year’s races by using the QR codes that will appear in the racecard beside each race; this innovative technology links to Racing UK’s coverage of the events of 2010.

To toast a winner or just enjoy with friends, racegoers can choose from Theakston cask ale, the Guinness Event Trailer, the much advertised Pimms bus or Mercier Champagne at £28.50 a bottle.

It all combines for what should be a great four days.

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