Gallery: York family race day puts a smile on the city’s face

Writer and photographer Amelia Crawford joined the crowds at the racecourse for York’s biggest family day of the year

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Peppa Pig and a young fan. Photographs: Amelia Crawford

The warm September sun was shining over Knavesmire on Sunday (September 7) as young children wearing beaming smiles entered the racecourse for undoubtedly the city’s biggest family day out – the York Press family raceday.

Two pony races kicked off the day. Jockeys aged between 11-16 eagerly gave their best efforts to secure a win, immediately giving them the qualification for the grand pony racing final, to take place at Newbury.

The ponies were some of the fastest in the country, some bred with prestigious racing backgrounds.

It was exactly these backgrounds that made an impact on the placings. Third in the second pony race was Abbie McCain, daughter of the famous trainer Donald McCain.

The win remained in Bowen family – Jamie Bowen won yesterday, following his older brother Sam’s victory in last year’s race. He went on to win the championship.

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And they’re off…

Then the main racecard began. Newmarket trained Invincible Gold claimed victory for the first official race, maintaining a consistent gallop throughout the mile and a quarter handicap. Second and third placings were decided from a photo finish.

Malton trainer Richard Fahey had a successful day, securing a double win. His horses Cosmic Halo and Bamboccianti claimed victory in the second and fourth races respectively.

Jockey Paul Hanagan achieved both wins, describing Fahey as “his favourite trainer”. Hanagan is no stranger to success, being Britain’s twice champion jockey and York’s champion jockey for four seasons.

Peter Fahey, son of Richard, was presented with an award for raising the most amount of money for Macmillan’s charity race, which took place last June. The annual race is open to 12 amateur jockeys.

Fahey, the youngest jockey in the nine furlong race, ended second, raising a staggering £13,257. This proved a significant contribution to the £93,000 raised overall.

Grateful for his award Fahey thanked his family and friends for donating, as well as generous owners from the yard.

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Losers become winners

York meetings are the ones every owner, trainer and race-goer have aspirations of winning. With more than 20,000 people at the family day, not everyone could be lucky.

To take the sting out of failing to pick a winner, losing tickets were put into a prize draw. Prizes ranged from= a day out at York Races for two to a free ice cream.

Meanwhile cash prizes were awarded the people responsible for producing the best turned out horses, rewarding grooms for their hard work.

Race-goers travelled from far and wide to attend the family raceday. Jacqueline Hall, 62, from Blive, Northumberland was staying in York and was thrilled when she learnt the races were on. “It was just convenient, but I am a regular racegoer,” she said.

“I placed a bet on number two in the third.” Sadly Jacqueline missed out as the six furlong race was won by Naadir and champion apprentice jockey Martin Harley.

Peppa and face paints

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With Peppa Pig touring the racecourse, a best painted face competition and a funfair, there was lots of fun for children.

Many youngsters picked out a horse for their mums and dads to back in each race. The enjoyment of following their chosen horse became a great thrill for many and some children were in luck.

Luke Parsons told me that, in the sixth race, “I bet on number 9 and I won”. His twin sister, Zoe was quick to express that she had second and third in the same race.

The Parsons family travelled from Lincoln. It was the second visit to the races by the twins – they were just 15 months old for the first.

Eighteen month old Robinson Bloch from South Bank, York, seemed to be having a spectacular day aboard his father Matthew’s shoulders.

An estimated that around 6,000 children attended the family day, a figure organisers will be proud of as some may become York’s future regular race-goers.

York’s next and last meeting of the 2014 calendar is on October 10-11.