Ripon Races begins 125th anniversary season this week
Last updated Apr 15, 2024
Horses at the finish line at Ripon Races. Picture: Steve Fareham/Geograph.

Ripon Races will begin its 125th anniversary season on Thursday (April 18), with a new chairman and improved facilities for jockeys.

Gates open at 12 noon for the first of 16 days of racing in Ripon this year.

This year’s calendar includes a new Sunday fixture on August 11, which has adopted a family Olympics day theme to coincide with the Olympic Games closing ceremony. It will include free family entertainment with medals up for grabs.

The big St Wilfrid meeting is on August 17 and the final race day is September 28.

Andrew Wells is taking over the reins as chairman from Nigel Clark, who is stepping down after five seasons.

Mr Wells is the great great grandson of William Wells who was the inaugural chairman of the board when Ripon Race Company Ltd was formed in 1899 and moved to its current Boroughbridge Road location.

The Wells family connection to Yorkshire’s garden racecourse is a strong one as Andrew’s great grandfather, Arthur, was the chairman at the time of World War I.

The new chairman said it was a “great honour” to be asked to become chairman 125 years after his great great grandfather became founding chairman.

He added:

“It makes me immensely proud to think that I could be standing where he had stood to watch the first winner come over the finish line back in 1899, although I am not sure what he would have made of media rights and affordability checks!

“Along with my fellow board members we will work together to maintain and develop the race company as it steers its way through the current challenges facing British racing.”

Photo of the Ripon Racecourse Paddock

Ripon, which celebrates its 125th anniversary season this year, is known for its floral excellence

To celebrate the 125th anniversary, racegoers have the opportunity to attend two meetings — Saturday April 27 and Friday May 10 — for the price of one. Anybody with a pre-booked ticket for the Saturday meeting will be given a completely free ticket for the Friday evening meeting two weeks later.

The racecourse has invested in new facilities in the weighing room as well as veterinary facilities in the stable yard.

Managing director James Hutchinson said:

“Work began on our weighing room project immediately after the end of our 2023 season and we’re delighted to have upgraded it but without losing the character of the original weighing room, which was constructed in the 1930s. A lot has changed in racing since then!

“The upgrades we’ve made are intended to bring facilities up to date and futureproof the racecourse for years to come and we’re already looking at additional projects for the next close season, when we intend to make improvements to the stable staff hostel.”

Main picture: Racing resumes at Ripon on Thursday afternoon.

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