The Royal Patron of York Racecourse, His Royal Highness The Duke of York, KG will help celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of the John Smith’s Cup. The longest running sponsorship in flat racing will mark its 60th running on Saturday 13 July at York Racecourse.
First won by Fougalle back in 1960, the milestone will be noted by a Royal presentation of the unique Wedgewood Trophy, after the completion of the £200,000 contest.
Throughout the afternoon celebrations will continue with a giant flag, fun installations for the selfie generation as well as a display of images of both the race and the wider world over those six decades.
The Duke will lay a time capsule near the Parade Ring, that marks that history and points to the future of the race; containing memorabilia from down the years, as well as the raw ingredients of the brew from its Yorkshire homeland and samples of the finished product, both Magnet Ale and Johns Smith’s.
Watching from the stands will be previous winning jockeys in the race such as Philip Makin (2015) and Jimmy Quinn (1998) as well as successful Yorkshire trainers David Barron, Richard Fahey and Karl Burke who have been proud to land the prize. Regular racegoers at the meeting and members of the brewery staff at Tadcaster will be amongst those who will be introduced to His Royal Highness.
Of course, there will be a special commemorative cake.
On the track the £200,000 prize money of the feature contest makes the John Smith’s Cup the richest middle distance handicap in Britain.
Named after Britain’s best-selling ale, it is the centrepiece of a seven-race programme that now includes the recently upgraded John Smith’s Silver Cup as a Group Three contest worth £65,000 and the Listed John Smith’s City Walls sprint..
The opening day on the Friday features a commemorative fly past by RAF Tucano aircraft from nearby Linton-on-Ouse; regular if fleeting visitors to this occasion. There will be a collection for an RAF charity on the ground.
As a racing highlight on Friday is the Group Three William Hill Summer Stakes, offering a black type opportunity to the fastest filly down the six furlong course, as well as marking the provider of SP Betting shop services on the Knavesmire.
One of Europe’s most prestigious and competitive middle-distance heritage handicap contests, the winning owner will join His Royal Highness on the podium on Saturday as he presents the specially-commissioned perpetual Wedgwood challenge trophy as well as a special diamond themed memento
Since Fougalle was the first winner back in 1960, there have been many dramatic moments, with the race becoming a major betting heat of the summer. In 2018, Euchen Glen provided trainer Jim Goldie with a first win in the race, indeed a first win for a thoroughbred stabled in Scotland. It was a big day for jockey Alistair Rawlinson who also landed his first win in the race.
The Group Three John Smith’s Silver Cup continues to be a valued title for stayers, last year, the Marco Botti trained Dylan Mouth, recorded his final victory before starting a new career at stud.
The sprinters have their say in the Listed John Smith’s City Walls over five furlongs and the 2016 winner, Marsha, went on to multiple success at Group One level, including the Coolmore Nunthorpe, before going into the record books when she was sold to become a broodmare.
Always one of the big days of the year, this event has become a showcase for ‘Yorkshire’s Finest’, and sees John Smith’s treasuring its Yorkshire roots with a full Yorkshire menu of locally-sourced and home-made food. In addition, there will be a number of cask ales available at the racecourse, thanks to collaboration with fellow Yorkshire brewers, Theakston’s.
The highlight on Friday, The William Hill Summer Stakes, is a Group Three sprint contest over six furlongs for fillies and mares, with a purse of £65,000. Last year’s race was won by Raven’s Lady for Newmarket trainer, Marco Botti; further success at Group Two level in Germany followed and she now races on the American stage.
Friday sees a number of other long-standing supporters of the Knavesmire return with Acturis back in attendance; alongside the accountancy firm responsible for audit matters at the track, Garbutt + Elliott. Once again, it is an “ITM Friday” as the Irish organisation responsible for promoting bloodstock sales from the emerald isle back a five furlong handicap.
The two days of racing get underway with an interesting novice contest over the unusual distance of five and a half furlongs. It is among the twenty-one contests backed by the European Breeders’ Fund.
Catering for broad musical tastes, both days offer the summer vibe of a steel band or the upbeat fun of Doctor Thirsty and after racing, The Monotones.
The Giant Screen overlooking the Roberto Lawn will continue to provide a home to Wimbledon coverage on Friday and earlier on Saturday.