IT must be half a century since my dear old dad and I caught the train from Middlesbrough, under darkening skies, for my first day out at Thirsk Races.

The heavens opened early in the journey, and, by the time, we’d alighted at Thirsk station, then braved the driving rain on the walk to the track, the meeting had been called off.

Consumed by disappointment, all that was left was to scoff some soggy takeaway fish and chips under a tree before catching the next train home.

There have been many happier trips to the North Yorkshire course over the years since then, but none have been on a match for my latest visit - the chance to try out the ‘Dine and View’ package in The Thomas Lord Suite on one of Thirsk’s premier meetings, Fitzdares Thirsk Hunt Cup Day.

There could hardly be a starker contrast between my experience as a 60-year-old, and that miserable, far-off day out as a bedraggled young boy in the 1970s.

For starters, the sun was shining kindly, the turf was green and lush, and the welcome at the entrance as friendly and helpful as visitors have come to expect while in Yorkshire.

My wife, Heather, and I made our way across to The Thomas Lord Suite, where we were greeted and shown to our table, overlooking the winning post. To be honest, it’s always been a struggle to get Heather to share my passion for the sport of kings. Indeed, my efforts to enthuse her have never really got out of the starting stalls. But give her the chance to do it in style, with blue skies, fine dining, and a reserved grandstand view of the action, and it’s a racing certainty that she’ll say yes.

The Northern Echo:

The Thomas Lord Suite, by the way, is named after the cricketer, who was born in Thirsk in 1755, and whose name is enshrined at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London. It seemed fitting to toast the memory of Thirsk’s famous son with a couple of glasses of ice-cold Birra Moretti – just the job on a warm day.

With a varied a la carte menu to choose from, I then opened the batting with a spinach, artichoke, and vine tomato filo tart with chive hollandaise sauce. Heather opted for the Bleiker’s smoked and poached salmon terrine, charred asparagus, saffron mayonnaise, and lemon gel. There was no sitting around waiting, with service exemplary, and the starters were both early winners, with Heather particularly enjoying her “light and tasty” first course.

For our mains, I ordered the chicken breast with wild mushroom and garlic ballotine, cannellini bean, garden pea and sage broth, while Heather chose the butternut squash and sage risotto, crispy leeks, oyster mushroom, and hazelnut pesto. All main courses – a choice of six – are served with fondant potato, confit carrot, and tenderstem broccoli.

The Northern Echo:

Despite it being one of Thirsk’s busiest days of the season, all the food was piping hot, and well cooked, and served with that trademark, down-to-earth Yorkshire friendliness. Just like the beer, the glass of Sauvignon that Heather ordered to accompany her meal was refreshingly chilled.

Dessert for me was the vanilla and blueberry baked cheesecake with plump balsamic strawberries, and Heather couldn’t resist the homemade ginger sponge with blood orange syrup and thick cream. And, as if that wasn’t enough, a three-tiered afternoon tea followed later, with ample sandwiches, cakes, and scones.

The Northern Echo:

With a Tote bookmaker situated at the entrance to the restaurant, it couldn’t have been easier to place a bet before watching the first race from the comfort of our table, which was our base for the rest of the day. The fact that we got off to a flyer with a winner naturally made the occasion even more appetising.

The Thomas Lord Suite is also just a short walk to the paddock and winner’s enclosure, so everything you need for an enjoyable day at the races is close at hand.

The ‘Dine and View’ package includes hospitality car parking, Premier Stand badge, a reserved table, three-course luncheon and afternoon tea. The price is £105 per person for standard days and evening meetings, £120 for feature days, and £130 for Ladies’ Day on September 3.

The reluctant racegoer I married can’t wait to go again.

  • Thirsk Racecourse, Station Rd, Thirsk YO7 1QL
  • Ratings (out of ten): Food quality 8, Surroundings 9, Service 9, Value for money 8.