York’s new facility is a sell-out for the Dante Festival

The new Premier Racing Lounge: “This latest scheme makes a great use of premium space near the Parade Ring and I believe will bring an extra dimension to coming racing at York,” says Chief Executive and Clerk of the Course William Derby. Photo: York Racecourse

York Racecourse is looking forward to the opening of its latest racegoer facility, the Premier Racing Lounge, which will see its first racegoers on Wednesday (May 15), the opening day of the Dante Festival.

The new concept has converted the ground floor of the existing Melrose Stand into a pre-booked Premier Lounge, which offers a reserved seat adjacent to the Parade Ring. The project has seen the transformation of a space that was previously a back-of-house area behind a bank of Tote windows. New Tote positions on the exterior of both sides of lounge are part of the reconfiguration.

As an indication that the new area looks set to prove popular, it has already sold out for all three days of this week’s Festival.

The Premier Racing Lounge will have a capacity of 132 racegoers, who will benefit from the reserved seat in a first-class location, a bar serving premium drinks, dedicated betting facilities from both Totepool and William Hill, as well as having its own toilets.

Floor-to-ceiling windows towards both the track and Parade Ring aspects offer a bright feel, as well as creating a connection with the live sport unfolding outside. Tables are configured for parties of four, with new furniture handmade in Yorkshire by Andy Thornton, offering the choice of a comfortable casual chair with arm rests or the elevated style of a plush poseur stool.

There will be the convenience of table service for a range of premium drinks, including local artisan gins such as Slingsby or Brittains. A courier service will offer the ability to place bets from a seat that the racegoers will have reserved in advance.

Located with easy access to a range of existing places that serve lunch, the decision was taken to devote the maximum space to racegoer use, so it does not include a kitchen. There will however be the option to enjoy a range of Proper Platters as well as premium treats from behind the bar. The Gimcrack Restaurant, Princess Mary Seafood Bar, as well as the John Carr Griddle, are all easily reached for guests looking for something a little more substantial, safe in the knowledge that their seat is reserved in the Premier Racing Lounge.

Three 86-inch HD screens, alongside multiple conventional-sized televisions, will showcase the racing from York as well as from other racecourses and the wider sporting world as Yorkshire looks forward to hosting an Ashes Test Match and the World UCI Cycling Championships in 2019. This means the lounge has the ability to host premier sports events on non-racedays, whether that is coverage of international racing or other events, such as World Cup Finals. 

The William Hill Betting Shop at the southern end of the development, has also benefited from a refurbishment, serving racegoers inside the Premier Racing Lounge as well as in the wider County Stand.  

Racegoers are able to book their seats and Proper Platters from the York Racecourse website with the benefits of the Premier Racing Lounge being priced to reflect the wider raceday, starting at £56 for the Friday afternoons in June, July, October. Tickets for the Dante Festival are £65; they are £82 for Summer Saturdays & Music events; and they are £115 at the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival in August. These prices are inclusive of admission to the County Stand as well as VAT and a racecard. Special advance booking deals will continue to be a part of the wider York proposition.

A six-figure budget has been invested in the project, which follows the successful redevelopments of both the wider Northern End of the racecourse and the Clocktower Enclosure, in the last five years. Yorkshire architecture practice Dawson Williamson Architects has designed the scheme, with the structural works delivered by Lindum Construction of York.  

William Derby, Chief Executive and Clerk of the Course, said, “This latest scheme makes a great use of premium space near the Parade Ring and I believe will bring an extra dimension to coming racing at York.

“The opportunity to reserve a seat in a well-appointed racegoer facility in a prime location is new for racegoers outside hospitality. I am proud of how the team have worked hard to deliver this next phase in the development of York, as part of our ongoing programme to continue to improve the experience of racing at the Knavesmire. It is a tribute to them that it is already proving so popular.”

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