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and Breeders Association
9 or 10 Days, 8 or 9 Nights (including one en route)
MAY 5 to MAY 13 or 14, 2021
7 or 8 nights in York
4 to 5 days/evenings of racing at York, Thirsk, Catterick, and Beverley
Excursions to the North York Moors, Castle Howard, and Whitby
Morning training in Middleham
Other special activities
Depart the U.S., if not joining the trip from the U.K. or elsewhere.
|Arrive in the U.K. We'll meet your flight and transfer you to our accommodation at the Grand Hotel in central York. ( For options regarding your arrival, please see the "Getting There" section of the trip information below the day-by-day schedule.)
The remainder of the day is free for your adjustment and personal pursuits. Depending on everyone's flights and arrival time at the hotel,we may organize a one-to-two-hour orientation walk of historic York. If arrival times make this impractical, we'll schedule this for Sunday. In any case, we always think it's a good idea to stay active if it's your first day over from the U.S. You'll want to stroll out into town and stretch your legs.
Late afternoon/early evening we'll rendezvous at the hotel bar for a round or two, get to know each other, and get organized for our week together. After, you can be on your own this evening or join in on the no-host booking we will have made for the group at a restaurant close to the hotel.
THE GRAND HOTEL. Spacious rooms, traditional atmosphere, and a superb location all combine to make The Grand our choice for lodging in York. The building dates to 1906 and was originally designed and built as the headquarters of the Northeastern Railway Company, one of the leading British concerns of its day. In 2010 it was totally renovated into its present use as a hotel. It's York's only 5-star property.
The Grand has a quiet old-fashioned lobby bar that's perfect for cocktail hour hanging, and for the more actively inclined there's an extensive fitness center with an indoor pool. A well-equipped spa facility completes the amenities. The location couldn't be better -- slightly out of the most congested areas, but within a ten-minute walk of all of York's principal sights.
Please refer to the hotel website at www.thegrandyork.co.uk for more details. A full English breakfast is included each morning of our stay.
|There's no racing scheduled in Yorkshire today, so we'll kick off our week with a motor through the countryside and a couple of special stops.
The full day begins with a visit to one of England's great country estates at Castle Howard. The still-in-residence Howards are a branch of the family whose senior title is the Duke of Norfolk, England's first-ranked Dukedom. The first Earl of Carlisle, a title created in 1661, was a grandson of the fourth Duke of Norfolk. It was the third Earl who launched the construction of the house, a process which took over a hundred years, including all of the 18th Century. The palatial-scale building is probably best known in the U.S. as the location for the television series Brideshead Revisited, but it's also been featured in several other films, including Lady L and Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon. It's surrounded by a thousand acres of parkland, dotted with a number of specially- designed theme gardens. We'll have plenty of time to tour the house and explore the beautiful landscapes, and we'll grab a simple lunch there, too.
The next activity will be a game-time decision. The North Yorkshire Moors Railway is a steam-driven old-style railway running through beautiful country on the way to our ultimate destination of Whitby on the North Sea coast. Scheduling for the train is not yet set for our time frame, and your trip organizer will do a dry run prior to the group's arrival to determine whether it's feasible to include it in our program.
One way or another we'll be arriving in Whitby mid-afternoon. The presence of the sea is heavily evident here and it's become a popular holiday destination in recent years. In addition to the ambiance, we're also here to experience some history.
The famed explorer Captain James Cook had his nautical beginnings in Whitby. At age 17, having shown limited aptitude for non-sea-related apprenticeships, Cook came to the Whitby home of the Walker family who were prominent local shipowners. He began his career crewing on coal boats operating out of Whitby and along the North Sea coast. His high competence gradually became known to the British Admiralty and led to assignments that resulted in him becoming one of the most successful and honored sea captains of all time. The Walker home is now the Captain Cook Memorial Museum, celebrating the life and global achievements of this remarkable man.
On a high bluff overlooking the town and the North Sea are the ruins of the Whitby Abbey and St Mary's church. The church is well worth our time. It dates from 1110 and still provides services in the present day. The surrounding ground of the abbey and church offer stunning views, making our stop here worthwhile in any case.
Incidentally, in his novel published in 1897, Bram Stoker made Whitby one of the settings for Dracula. Hopefully we won't run into the Count as we move around town.
Depending on the group mood, we might either linger in Whitby for a drink or maybe even a no-host fish and chips, for which the town is famous. Or we can head straight home to the hotel -- it's about a 90-minute ride back to York.
|A lot in store again today: Lunch in a delightful country village, a look at some of England's most arresting scenery, a visit to the ruins of an 800-year-old Abbey, and racing at one of Yorkshire's oldest courses.
We'll begin mid-morning with a ride through pleasant countryside to the charming little town of Lastingham. This pretty place is one of the lesser-traversed gateways to the North York Moors and home to the agreeably genteel Lastingham Grange Hotel. The dining fare here is universally praised and we'll have a leisurely lunch.
We'll let our mood dictate the pace for the next few hours. A motor up into the the Moors National Park will give us a taste of this distinctively empty area -- depending on the fog situation the views can be anywhere from expansive to hand-in-front-of-your-face. We might stop in for an after-lunch drink or coffee at the busy but still cozy Lion Inn. Up on Blakey Ridge, it's at the highest point in the Moors.
If we can comfortably fit it in, assuming we haven't lingered over-long at either the Lastingham or the Lion, next stop will be at Rievaulx Abbey. The abbey dates back to 1132 when it was established by monks from France. It grew to be one of the most important and wealthy abbeys in all of England, and as was the custom of the day it ultimately delved just as heavily into materialistic endeavors as it did into the spiritual. One of the great convolutions of English history was the so-called "dissoloution of the monasteries" carried out by Henry the Eighth in the 1500s, which depending on your point of view was either a much needed reform or a vast power grab. The ruins of Rievaulx make for an interesting visit.
Late afternoon, our final appointment is at Thirsk Racecourse. Racing in this area goes back to the early 1600s, at a course up on the Sutton Bank at nearby Hambleton. In 1740 Parliament actually passed a law stating that "proper" racing could only be held at three courses in the country -- Newmarket, York, and Hambleton. The course gradually fell out of favor in the 1800s and the local torch was passed to Thirsk, where town squire Fredrick Bell laid out a track in 1855 on land owned by the family since 1723. 295 years later the Bells still own the course.
The Thirsk track itself is a bit of an anomaly for the U.K., in that it's a U.S.-style oval and relatively flat throughout. It's left-turning, about a mile-and-a-quarter around, with a three-furlong home stretch, and five and six-furlong races are run from a straight-line chute. We'll have Premier Enclosure credentials and dine at the course.
We should be back at hotel by about 9.
|Today is an OPEN DAY for you to use as you please. Relax, or explore on foot the multitude of worthwhile attractions in York.
If we weren't able to squeeze it in on Thursday, we'll offer the guided orientation walk of the city to help you get your bearings. During the wander we'll briefly survey all the town's major attractions, including York Minster, the Jorvik Viking Center, the City Walls, the ancient neighborhood known as The Shambles, and point you toward the superb railway museum. You'll be able to return at your leisure to the places that most caught your attention.
York has a very long and occasionally turbulent history. The site has been inhabited for going on 10,000 years, but it was the Romans who formally established a city in 71 A.D. after their conquest of the local tribes. The Roman period lasted several centuries and a number of the emperors were in residence from time to time. Constantine the Great was actually proclaimed Emperor in York.
After the Romans departed in the 400s, the Angles were the next to move in, and their ascendancy lasted until 866 when the Vikings invaded and very firmly took things over. They developed the city into a major trading center, but were in turn driven out in 954 by King Eadred, who united all of England under home rule for the first time.
In 1066, another branch of Scandinavians, the French-based Normans, pulled off their takeover of the entire island. Though many have wanted to since, this was the last time anyone has successfully solved this military challenge and modern English history begins at this point.
The locals initially were in revolt, but William the Conqueror himself came north to settle things down, in a widely destructive campaign that came to be known as the "Harrying of the North". Order restored, the city moved into another long period of economic health. The construction of what was eventually to become the magnificent York Minster cathedral was begun.
The city's second thousand years have not been as dramatic as its first. The economy waxed and waned -- the Tudor era was a particularly difficult period, as were the Civil War years of the mid-1600s. But once the monarchy was firmly re-established in 1660, York, along with the rest of England, settled into a long period of prosperity stimulated by the industrial revolution. Heavy industry has now largely moved to other larger cities, and York today has been described as "the perfect combination of heritage and high-tech".
|We roam afield again today, but our focus returns to what brought us all here -- horse racing. We're up early and off to visit the yards of Mark Johnston at the picturesque village of Middleham and its breathtaking surrounding areas.
Mark is unquestionably one of Britain's leading trainers. A fan of racing since childhood in Scotland, he studied and practiced as a veterinarian before taking out his trainer's license in 1987. Relocating a year later to the then-sleepy hamlet of Middleham with a handful of horses, he's since built a powerhouse operation that regularly sits at or near the top of the standings. He's trained more than a hundred winners for 26 consecutive years (that's not a typo) and has doubled that figure in nine of the past eleven seasons. In 2019 he broke the one-year record for number of victories, and from a long-term perspective he's sent out more winners on the flat than any other trainer in the long history of British racing.
Johnston originally set up shop at Kingsley House in the center of Middleham, and his strings on their way through the village to train at the nearby long-existing gallops on the High and Low Moors were an everyday sight. More recently he's developed his own 300-acre facility on the outskirts of town and does all his training there, although many of his trainees are still stabled at the old yard in town.
The visit will be conducted by a colleague of Mark. We'll visit all of the yards, hopefully have as much personal time with Mark as his very busy schedule allows, and take in some training as it happens.
Although the High Moor is no longer used by Johnston, many other local trainers still utilize it, and we'll have a drive-around and hopefully catch more action. This area is actually the cradle of the Thoroughbred presence in Middleham which goes back to the 1730's. An active racecourse operated up here from 1739 to 1873 before land-use disputes with adjoining property owners curtailed it.
We'll lunch at the atmospheric Saddle Room restaurant up on the Moor before moving on to the afternoon races at Catterick. Racing here dates back to 1783, and it's a venue for both jump and flat competition. By U.K. standards it's a tight course, just a bit over nine furlongs around. Left-turning, it has considerable undulations throughout which give it a reputation as an exceedingly "sharp" track. Racing at Catterick is very casual and we've made no special arrangements for our visit; however we will have badges that allow us access to all public portions of the plant.
Lastly, a special treat tonight: dinner in a private home a half-hour's drive from Catterick. The residence is not grand, but rather a very comfortable English country house with a lot of history. Our hosts are very knowledgeable people with roots in the game going far back. Drinks will be plentiful, dinner will be hearty, and the racing talk will be first-rate.
It will be a late evening, but you'll be able to sleep in tomorrow.
This morning you can kick back, do some shopping, or catch a city attraction you might have missed earlier. Just before noon we'll depart York for the hour's drive and racing at Beverley.
Beverley is one of England's most atmospheric little courses, and like most Yorkshire tracks it has a long history. Racing took place at least as early as 1690, and annual meetings were established by 1734. It's a right-turning track with a circuit of eleven furlongs. It's slightly egg-shaped and generally considered a "galloping" track, but the downhill far turn and stiff uphill home stretch can be challenging and testing.
We'll have reserved-seat lunch at the course.
Back in York, no dinner plans have been made, but we can put together a no-host outing for those interested.
|Today, following another morning at leisure, we'll be savoring Yorkshire racing at its very best -- in fact some would argue at its best anywhere. Certainly York Racecourse is one of your trip organizer's favorite racetracks in the world.
York is without doubt near the top of the list of English racecourses. It's sometimes referred to as "The Ascot of the North", a moniker we find a bit unflattering as the quality of the overall racing experience here at least equals the more high-profile course down south. York conducts one of the most prestigious racing events in Europe during its four-day "Ebor" meeting in August. (The centerpiece Juddmonte International annually ranks at or close to the top in the International Classifications.) But due to its direct conflict with Travers weekend at Saratoga and Pacific Classic Day at Del Mar, it's rarely attended by Americans. To avoid this clash, we've chosen York's other top meeting of the year to feature on our trip. With the Epsom Derby and Oaks only a few weeks away, the last and most competitive prep races for these Classics are run at York.
As with most area courses, history runs deep here. Robert Black wrote: "It is reasonably believed there has always been some kind of horse racing from the very earliest moment at which there were two horses and two Yorkshiremen ..." The Romans definitely raced on the site of the present course, and "modern" records of events here start up in 1530.
The course's nickname is the "Knavesmire", so-called because the low-lying area where it sits was long the site for public criminal executions. Heavy ground was always an issue for local meets and the city fathers hired an expert gardener and seedsman to lay down a course on the Knavesmire that would at least be somewhat separated from the frequently overflowing Ouse River. It was also thought that the afternoon racing could benefit from the crowds already assembled for the morning hangings. The first meeting at the present-day York racecourse took place in 1731, and for 289 years hence, it's been interrupted only by the actions of Kaiser Wilhelm II and Adolph Hitler.
York is an irregular left-turning course a bit less than two miles in extent. It only became an enclosed circuit in 2005 when it hosted the Royal Meeting during Ascot's reconstruction. Prior, two-mile events had started from a long backstretch chute that was perhaps closer to the center of York than to the racecourse stands. It has a reputation as a "galloping" track but it has decided undulations. The stretch run is almost five furlongs and serious racing seldom begins until after the runners have turned for home.
Today's feature is the Musidora Stakes, named for the locally-trained daughter of Nasrullah who won the 1,000 Guineas and Epsom Oaks in 1949, and it's the final prep for the Oaks. Supporting events on the excellent card include the Group 2 Duke of York Stakes. We'll be situated in the Voltiguer Restaurant, a venue offering copious food and drink, and an outside terrace with the best viewing at the course.
We may not be in the mood for an elaborate dinner tonight after the luncheon feast in the Voltigeur, but if a significant number of the group are departing tomorrow, we'll organize a no-host dinner for this last night we're all together.
|If you're doing the abridged version of the trip, today is your getaway day. We'll provide transport to your airport for your flight home. Good luck and safe travels.
If you're extending your stay, which we urge you to do, another and even better card of racing awaits us at York Racecourse. The main event today is the Dante Stakes. This 10 1/2 furlong test, similar to the Musidora yesterday, serves as the final and most important prep race for the Derby at Epsom. It has a long list of major winners, in this century alone including Derby victors North Light, Motivator, Authorized, and Golden Horn, plus such other stalwarts as Sakhee, Cape Blanco, The Grey Gatsby, and Roaring Lion. The undercard will include the Group 2 Middleton Stakes for fillies and mares, and the Listed Westow Stakes, a five-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds.
Today we're encouraging you to move around a bit, and have perhaps a more complete experience of the racecourse. We'll have premier enclosure badges and there are a number of options, some more serious than others, for lunch and snacking throughout the day. There is abundant and well-located unreserved seating for race-watching. You'll have the option to upgrade for another day in the Voltigeur Restaurant if you prefer to park in one place instead.
Tonight's dinner plans hinge on what we did last night. If the group is still largely intact, we'll make it our "official" last night together celebration.
|The organized itinerary well and truly ends this morning following breakfast and checkout from the hotel. We'll provide transportation to your airport and your flight home. Once again we say thank you, and we wish you good luck and smooth sailing onward.
This trip will close on March 19, 2021. Payment in full and all necessary completed paperwork must be received by us no later than this date to insure that you will be able to join the trip.
The closest airports to York are Leeds-Bradford (LBA) and Manchester (MAN), and the trip price includes transfers to the hotel from either of these and also transfers back for your return flights to the U.S. There are non-stop flights to MAN from several U.S. gateways including Atlanta, New York (Newark and JFK), Philadelphia, and Orlando. One-stop service to LBA and MAN is available, primarily through London but also from several other European airports including Dublin which is "on the way".
We can also bring you up to York from London Heathrow (LHR) airport or from central London, with an added-on premium to cover the extra cost. Approximate transfer times from the airports to York are as follows: LBA: 1:00; MAN: 1:45; LHR: 4:00. These transfer times should also be kept in mind when arranging your return flights to the U.S.
If you're planning to spend time in London either before or after our trip, there is regular express non-stop train service between London and York with a transit time of a bit more than two hours. The York train station is just minutes away from the Grand Hotel and we can greet you there. We will credit any travelers who make their own arrangements for getting to York for the cost of our regular trip transfers.
COME EARLY, STAY LATE:
This itinerary is designed to be full and busy. You may want to consider coming early, staying on, or fitting this program into or alongside other European travel plans. Even a day for adjusting or exploring at the beginning can ease the pace of the trip. We can greet you at your airport on whatever day you arrive.
We’ll accommodate extensions as best we can, but room space is not blocked or guaranteed at this time at The Grand Hotel either before or after our trip dates. Please let us know as soon as possible if you’d like to extend your stay at our trip hotel.
ITINERARY & PRICES:
The basic itinerary includes:
The itinerary does not include:
- Seven(7) nights’ lodging at The Grand Hotel in York.
- Breakfast each morning as indicated.
- Four(4) escorted days/evenings of racing at York, Thirsk, Catterick, and Beverley, including transportation to and from the racecourse and race cards.Reserved seat dinner at Thirsk May 8; Premier enclosure admission at Catterick (May 10); Reserved seat lunch at Beverley (May 11); and Reserved-seat lunch at York May 12.
- Lunch on five(5) days: at Castle Howard May 7; in Lastingham May 8, in Middleham May 10; at Beverley Racecourse May 11; and at York Racecourse May 12.
- Dinner on two(2) nights: at Thirsk Racecourse May 8, and at a private residence May 10.
- “Welcome” cocktails in York on May 6.
- Walking tour of York, with a private guide, on either May 6 or May 9.
- Admission to Castle Howard, the Captain Cook Memorial Museum, and St Mary's Church on May 7.
- Admission to Rievaulx Abbey (time permitting) on May 8.
- Arrival transfer from your arrival airport to the Grand Hotel. (Please note the trip price includes transfers from Leeds-Bradford or Manchester airports. Transfers can be arranged from London Heathrow Airport or from central London, however they will incur a surcharge.)
- Departure transfer from the Grand Hotel to your departure airport. (Please note the trip price includes transfers to Leeds-Bradford or Manchester airports. Transfers can be arranged to London Heathrow Airport or to central London, however they will incur a surcharge.)
- Complimentary racing newspaper each day.
- Accompaniment throughout by a knowledgeable American escort.
The Cost of the Trip does
- Airfare to and from the U.S.A.
- The cost of lunch or dinner any day except as specified above.
The Cost of the Trip Is:
- Any charges incurred at hotels other than the basic cost of the room and breakfast, including but not limited to room service, mini-bar, television or video, restaurant or bar service, laundry or dry-cleaning, business services, golf or other activities, and activities arranged through the hotel concierge. (All group members will be required to provide a credit card imprint upon check-in at each hotel to guarantee payment for any individual charges.)
- Excess baggage charges. Please carefully check baggage limits on inter-European air flights.
- Costs related to obtaining passports or visas.
- Travel insurance.
- Alcoholic beverages, except during the "Welcome" cocktail hour.
- Charges incurred for anything other than what is specified in the “Itinerary Includes” summary above.
- Personal gratuities. As part of our arrangements we will tip our drivers, farm and barn personnel, and hotel staffs on behalf of the group. Group members should appropriately tip their incoming and outgoing transfer drivers and anyone who provides them with personal assistance, including special assistance by hotel staff. Please note your principal tour escort does not expect and will not accept a gratuity.
We estimate that the cost of this trip will be $3,900 to $4,200 per person based on double occupancy, with a single supplement of approximately $900. Final pricing will be posted to the website in January.
We will attempt to match single travelers wishing to double up and thereby avoid the Single Supplement, however it will always be the single traveler’s decision whether or not to accept a roommate. Single travelers on this trip will be accommodated in slightly smaller (but still substantial) rooms than the double occupancy travelers to help keep the single supplement as low as possible.
Trip prices are subject to change up to thirty(30) days prior to trip departure to reflect fluctuations in currency exchange rates between the United States and the United Kingdom. U.S. Dollar prices quoted herein are based on the following exchange rates:
1 US $ = 0.758 U.K. Pounds // 1 Pound = 1.32 US $
Attend the races at York on Thursday, May 13, and stay an additional night at the Grand Hotel (May 13). You will get your outbound airport transfer on Friday, May 14 or later if extending further at the Grand Hotel. Includes transportation to and back from the racecourse, premier enclosure entry to the course, race card, and further option to upgrade to the Voltigeur Restaurant at the racecourse. We estimate the cost of this Option will be: $255 per person, based on double occupancy. Single supplement: $85. Additional cost to upgrade to the Voltigeur Restaurant: $295 per person.
Additional nights at the Grand Hotel in York, if available: Please inquire with us.
Airport pickup and transfer to the Grand Hotel from London Heathrow Airport: add $150 per person to the trip price each way, and twice that each way for singles.
*This trip is designed for eight(8) to eighteen(18) people. Although we will make every effort to operate the trip, we reserve the right to cancel the trip if it has less than eight(8) subscribers. Should we need to cancel the trip, all payments made to Racing-Europe toward the cost of the trip will be fully and promptly refunded.
*Some of the activities listed may be shifted from one day to the other due to scheduling issues, however all will be included.
*Please note the transfer times noted above from the Grand Hotel to Leeds-Bradford, Manchester, and London-Heathrow airports and be aware they can take longer if you are unlucky with traffic. Therefore, we advise a departure time for your return flight as late in the day as you can make it, consistent with when you want to be back in the U.S. If departing from Heathrow you may want to consider spending a night near that airport and taking a flight on the following day.
*You must have a valid passport to enter the United Kingdom.
Photos courtesy of the Grand Hotel, Castle Howard, English Heritage, Paul Johnson, Thirsk Racecourse,
F.E. Greene, Johnston Racing, James Bethell, Catterick Racecourse, Beverley Racecourse, and York Racecourse.
View the Itineraries for our other 2021 trips:
September (Ireland), click here
October-November (Australia), click here
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