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Tuesday, May 4, 2004


It's all systems go at York – The U.K.'s Racecourse of the Year – as the 2004 campaign on the Knavesmire begins with the traditional three-day May Festival on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (May 11, 12 & 13), a meeting which should provide important clues towards the forthcoming Classics such as the Derby and Oaks, whilst also featuring valuable competitive handicap races and informative maiden contests, as the top horses put down their markers for the season.

The seven-race programme each day begins at 1.30 p.m. (gates open at 11.15 a.m.).

The Tattersalls Musidora Stakes and The Duke Of York Heathstead Homes Stakes are the Group races on Tuesday's card. Top-class three-year-old fillies line-up for the Group 3 Musidora Stakes – a leading trial for the Oaks next month – and supported for the 19th year by Tattersalls, Europe's leading bloodstock auctioneers. Regular York sponsors, Hearthstead Homes, the Leeds-based national housebuilders, support the £100,000 Duke Of York Stakes for the second year. This Group 2 race over six furlongs should attract the very best sprinters.

The main handicap races on the opening day are once again The williamhillpoker.com Stakes (seven furlongs) and The Newton Investment Management Rated Stakes (extended one mile and a quarter) – both races being for three-year-olds. The Arriva Trains Handicap Stakes, The Garbutt & Elliott Colin Foster EBF Novice Fillies' Stakes and theripleycollection.com Racing Jewellery Maiden Stakes complete Tuesday's programme.

Britain's most famous and valuable Derby trial, The totesport Dante Stakes (Group 2), takes pride of place on Wednesday, supported for the second year by totesport – the biggest commercial sponsor in British racing. With prize money of £145,000, The totesport Dante Stakes sets the benchmark for the potential Classic generation of colts, with Epsom and a return to York's Ebor Festival looming.

The totepool Middleton Stakes has been elevated to Group 3 status; last year's winner of this race for fillies and mares, Zee Zee Top, went on to win the Group 1 Prix de l'Opera at Longchamp. The Bank of Scotland Corporate Banking Hambleton Rated Stakes is Wednesday's main Handicap race, as well as being a Listed contest over one mile.

Leading stayers are in the spotlight in Thursday's principal race, The Emirates Airline Yorkshire Cup. This Group 2 contest over one mile and threequarters with prize money of £140,000 is sponsored for the second year by Emirates Airline, while the ‘Listed' Michael Seely Memorial Glasgow Stakes often identifies possible Derby contenders.

Thursday's opening race, a handicap race for sprinters, is supported for the third year by York-based Langleys Solicitors, while leading sports betting exchange company, Betfair.com return to sponsor a couple of handicap races over the extended one mile and a quarter and a contest for three-year-olds over one mile respectively. New sponsors to York, Swisscom Eurospot and Homes Dubai complete the line-up on Thursday, as they join York's impressive portfolio of race sponsors.

Minster Jaguar continue to support the leading Trainer of the Season award (won last year by the champion trainer, Sir Michael Stoute with eight winners), while the Champion Jockey Kieren Fallon (15 winners last season on the Knavesmire) will be seeking to retain his Top Jockey at York title in the Budget Rent A Car – supported award. This season will also see the introduction of a trophy for the leading jockey at both the May and August Festivals, in a challenge that will extend the support of The Daily Telegraph at York.

The popular ‘Punters‘ Panel' takes place prior to racing throughout the Meeting from the winner's podium to preview the action each day, while the pair of giant screens will provide racegoers with an even closer view of proceedings on the track.

Racegoers will be able to enjoy homemade Yorkshire Puddings in the new Buttery, whilst coffee fans will notice an improved range on offer at the track. After a winter of improvements, York is looking forward to a summer of welcoming the best horses and their supporters.


After a couple of abandoned meetings due to parts of the course being waterlogged, racing at Redcar is set to resume on Monday (May 10), with the first race scheduled for 2-20 p.m.

The principal race is The toteexacta Fillies' Stakes, a £10,000 Handicap contest for fillies and mares over the straight seven furlongs, while three-year-olds take part in The Saffie Joseph & Sons Handicap Stakes over one mile and a quarter, a race sponsored by one of the major distributors of televised U.K. racing to the Caribbean betting industry.

Monday's opening race, a contest for novice two-year-olds over theminimum distance of five furlongs, is named after Redcar's much-acclaimed Crow's Nest Restaurant.

For old articles (from 1st March 2000) go to the Newslink Archive

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