The Racecourse is the third biggest in Britain, and has attracts over 350,000 guests per year, making it a staggering attraction for the city of York. However today, you’ll think about putting on your best gear, having some drink with your mates and betting on some horses – but the races actually date back to the Roman era under Emperor Severus, making it an over 2000 year old sport within the city.
Whilst horses raced in 71 AD and probably under the Vikings too, according to York Corporation records, the city of York didn’t support racing until 1530 – over 1500 years later. In 1607, it is known that racing took place over a frozen river Ouse, between Micklegate Tower and Skeldergate Postern Tower – which was apparently a narrow pointed archway with a single gate which was demolished in 1803.
There was also a famous yearly race for a golden bell was taking place in the nearby Forest of Galtres in 1590. It’s safe to say that these races were a bit of a different taste of scenery to the modern day Racecourse we have come to love.