Thirsk Racecourse is situated to the immediate west of the market town of Thirsk, between the town centre and the village of Carlton Miniott, in North Yorkshire in the Humber region of England. The history of horseracing in the Thirsk area dates back to 1612, but the first meeting on the course in its current location was in 1855, under the auspices of a local landowner, Frederick Bell. The racecourse increased in popularity during the 19th century, when the expansion of passenger railways allowed people to travel further, more quickly and has continued to flourish until the present day. New stands were opened in the Silver Ring in 1967 and, today, the racecourse boasts modern facilities for racegoers and corporate clients alike. In 2013, Thirsk Racecourse stages 14 Flat fixtures between April and September.
For racegoers, Thirsk Racecourse offers a choice of three enclosures, the Premier Enclosure, the Paddock Enclosure and the Family Ring. Admission prices range from £6 in the Family Ring for standard fixtures to £21 in the Premier Enclosure for premier fixtures. Concessions are available for senior citizens in all three enclosures and admission is free for accompanied children.
For corporate events, such as conferences, Thirsk Racecourse offers a total of four main conference rooms, capable of accommodating between 20 and 240 people, plus numerous breakout rooms, if required. Free parking and Wi-Fi access are available and audiovisual equipment, such as a projector and public address system, can be hired at an additional cost.
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What's the Thirsk course like?
The round course at Thirsk consists of a fairly sharp, left-handed oval, just over a mile and a quarter around, with a 4-furlong straight.
The course is perfectly level, with wide, easy bends, but is nevertheless better suited to handy types than big, long-striding gallopers. The straight 6-furlong course, which has slight undulations throughout, starts on a chute that joins the round course three furlongs from home.
Notable Races and Events
The most prestigious and valuable race of the year at Thirsk is the Totepool.com Thirsk Hunt Cup, a handicap run over a mile in early May. In 2013, the race was won by David Barron's 5-year-old Norse Blues, who landed something of a gamble, having been backed from 7/1 to 7/2 joint favourite on the course. Norse Blues was winning his first race since popping up at 50/1 in the William Hill Spring Mile at Doncaster the previous March.
Also worth a mention is the Yorkshire Outdoors Adventure Experiences Handicap, run over 5 furlongs later in May. The 2013 renewal was won by Roger Varian's 5-year-old Steps, who only had to be pushed out inside the final furlong to lift the £12,938 first prize.
In 1989, Terimon, a Bustino colt trained by Clive Brittain, was just touched off, by a short head, in the now defunct Thirsk Classic Trial, over a mile. However, the race proved to be a proper Classic trial that year because, three starts later, Terimon (right) finished second, at odds of 500/1, in the Derby won by Nashwan.
Top Owners, Jockeys and Trainers
P.J. McDonald (right) is the leading jockey at Thirsk over the last five seasons, with 20 winners from 192 rides. However, he's only one ahead of Graham Gibbons, with 19 winners from 142 rides and Silvestre De Sousa, with 19 winners from 123 rides. Those two, in turn, are just one winner ahead of Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum's retained jockey Paul Hanagan, who's recorded 18 winners from 119 rides in the same period.
North Yorkshire trainers naturally top the trainers' table, with Musley Bank handler Richard Fahey leading the way with 24 winners from 160 runners over the last five seasons. David “Dandy” Nicholls and Kevin Ryan are just three winners behind, with 21 winners apiece from 211 and 173 runners, respectively.
Mel Brittain has had more than three times more runners at Thirsk over the last five seasons and tops the owners' table with 6 winners from 84 runners. However, Kevin Kirkup has recorded the same number of winners from just 27 runners in the same period and has recorded a level stakes profit of 57.50 points, as opposed to a level stakes loss of 17.00 points.
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