THE 15th Go Racing In Yorkshire Summer Festival gets underway tomorrow (Friday) – with trainers quick to praise the “special quality” of the county’s courses.

The festival, sponsored by Sky Bet, gets off to a dream start at Pontefract on Friday evening with a beer festival and music night, featuring the Dreams of Fleetwood Mac tribute band.

The fixtures then come thick and fast at Ripon, Doncaster, Redcar, Beverley, Catterick, Thirsk and York, with the festival ending at The Knavesmire on Saturday, July 29.

Classic-winning trainer Adrian Keatley, who moved to Malton in 2020 after a successful career in Ireland, said: “It’s unfair that there’s any talk of a north-south divide because the tracks here are as good if not better than a lot of the southern tracks.

“The festival is a great idea because it’s important to promote the Yorkshire courses, and it inspires me to keep doing better and upping the quality of the horses, because it’s a fantastic place to train.”

Wheatley, who won the 2016 Irish 1,000 Guineas with Jet Setting, was speaking at a press launch for the festival at Catterick Races on Wednesday, and he was joined by several Yorkshire trainers in extolling the virtues of racing in the county.

Middleham handler, Micky Hammond, who has trained more than 1,000 winners since taking out his licence in 1990, said: “The beauty is that there’s such a variety of tracks in Yorkshire and you always get a knowledgeable crowd when you race up here. The festival is a great way of showcasing the special quality of the courses we have.”

Micky nominated Myboymax, in the first race at Redcar on Sunday, as his best chance of a festival winner, saying: “He’s got a lot going in his favour.”

William Easterby, son of prolific Malton trainer Tim Easterby, said: “The Yorkshire tracks are so different and we’re lucky to have a lot of course specialists running in the county.”

One such specialist is Copper Knight, who became the winning most horse at York when he recorded his seventh win at the track in the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Handicap recently. The nine-year-old gelding only has one pound more to carry on the first day of the festival at Pontefract tomorrow. “He goes there with a good chance,” said William.

He also gave an update on Art Power, who ran well to be fourth to Shaquille in the Group One July Cup at Newmarket at the weekend. He goes for the Group 2 Barberstown Castle Sapphire Stakes at The Curragh on Saturday. “We think he’ll run a big race,” said William.

David Easterby, who also trains at Malton in partnership with his legendary father Mick, is another keen advocate of the Go Racing In Yorkshire Summer Festival, saying: “Yorkshire people are proud people who like to support things that are from Yorkshire. It’s the same with their racing, and branding the Yorkshire tracks in this way is really positive.”

The stable’s Bay of Hope, a winner at Redcar last month before being third from a bad draw at Ayr, runs at Pontefract tomorrow night and David say’s he goes there “with a cracking chance”.

Ruth Carr, who trains at Stillington, near York, added her support for the festival, saying: “We always try to support our local tracks, not just because it’s a lot more economical to stay closer to home but because we’ve got such a great variety of tracks, all offering something different, within a short drive.”

Ruth kicks off her festival entries with five-time winner Rhythm running in the last race at Pontefract tomorrow. “We’ve tinkered with her wind and hope she runs well,” she said.

Copper and Five, who runs at Ripon on Saturday, is another stable hope for the festival. “He’s still well handicapped and wasn’t beaten far from a bad draw last time,” said Ruth.

A three-year-old filly called Rockin Rosa runs at Redcar on Sunday and Ruth said: “She’s got ability but needs to start showing it and there’s no reason why she shouldn’t run well.”

Goldsborough Hall, at Knaresborough, is again sponsoring the leading trainer of the festival, with the winner enjoying an overnight stay and dinner.

In addition to being headline sponsor of the festival, Sky Bet is also sponsoring the leading jockey prize, as well as offering a pizza party and cash prize for the yard that wins the most best turned out awards.


Friday July 21: Pontefract

Saturday July 22: Ripon and Doncaster (evening)

Sunday July 23: Redcar

Monday July 24: Beverley (evening)

Tuesday July 25: Visit to Jack Berry House 2pm-4pm

Wednesday July 26: Catterick

Thursday July 27: Doncaster

Friday July 28: Thirsk and York (evening)

Saturday July 29: York