David Parkin on racing at York, email overload and Royal Ascot in Leeds

A TRIP to York Races is one of the great pleasures of the Yorkshire sporting calendar.

Last week’s first meeting of the year, the Dante, is always popular and attracts high quality fields, but not the overwhelming crowds of the Ebor Festival in August.

Surveying the carnage across the champagne lawn at the end of a boisterous Ebor Ladies’ Day a few years ago I suggested to a friend that it looked a bit like the collapse of the Roman Empire might have done when it culminated with the sacking of Rome by the Vandals in 410 AD.

Men slumped in litter bins wearing women’s hats, scuffles, screeching and people trying to walk across the discarded champagne bottles on the lawn resembling Canadian lumberjacks on logs as they float them down river.

The Dante Meeting doesn’t tend to end like that but I went on Friday and the fine weather and end-of-week air ensured a bumper crowd.

Mark Raven of FDYL told me there was about twice the number of spectators than on Thursday.

Mark also tells me he does a lot of business at the races. I’ve always liked the idea of that but have never quite achieved it as by the end of the day’s racing I’ve either lost my shirt or enjoyed myself so much I’ve forgotten who I met.

Informed that York had invested in upgrading its champagne bar and lawn and added a new rooftop terrace over the Moet & Chandon bar, I spent much of my time surveying these parts of the course, rather than getting close to the race track or the parade ring.

To my untrained eye, the investment in the facilities looked impressive. However I was informed that property entrepreneur Richard Boothroyd, more of a fixture at York Races than Frankie Dettori, was less than impressed and had even collared the clerk of the course to give him a ‘snagging’ list of improvements needed to complete the work.

I met plenty of old and new friends and contacts and even broke my duck of not having a winner from every bet I’ve put on for several months.

After the races I managed to ‘invite’ myself to join a group of lively ladies from North Yorkshire at the Star in the City restaurant in York, sister to the Star at Harome run by celebrated chef Andrew Pern.

I do have a track record of ‘inviting’ myself to other people’s dinners, just ask John Holroyd of Mazars.

Fine food and wine, a beautiful setting beside the river in York on a sunny late spring evening. What better way could one have to finish a day at the races?

That was what I thought until somebody sent me a photo the following day of one of our group who had spent most of the meal wearing a bread basket as a hat.

No wonder the restaurant staff looked relieved to usher us out into the night.

I decided to head home. I still have memories of a stag do in York where our group approached a brightly-lit, packed bar. Two men burst out of the door of the establishment with one punching the other hard enough for his victim to fall over a small wall outside the bar.

As I surveyed this violent scene, I looked up at the name of the bar.

It said: “Merlin’s: Where The Magic Has Only Just Begun.”


KEEPING the racing theme, we are holding our first COPA event next month when we bring Royal Ascot to Leeds.

Our Ascot in the City event on Thursday June 18 is at the impressive Foundry Wine Bar & Restaurant featuring a three course lunch, all the races and fashions on big screen TVs, an on-course bookie to take bets and plenty of tips, banter and a chance to meet some interesting individuals from the business community.

Tickets are £99 +VAT to book your place or for more information email: events@copasummit.com or telephone 0113 892 1002


I’VE never met anybody that says they receive too few emails.

We all receive marketing emails that are a total waste of our time, for a variety of reasons, whether they are irrelevant, boring or just plain badly written.

The usual response is to just delete them. If they are really of no relevance or annoying then you might click ‘unsubscribe’ – I’m sure some people feel like that when they get my weekly musings – but rarely, I imagine, do any of us respond directly to the sender.

My friend Stuart Clarke, who has just been ranked in the top 50 people operating in the ‘fintech’ sector (no I don’t know what it means either, my computer’s spell check tried to change it to ‘finch’) and is the newly-appointed marketing director of Leeds-based digital agency Bloom, was sufficiently annoyed by an email from the director of a Manchester-based digital and marketing recruitment firm to pen the following response:

Dear …

Please take me off your mailing list. Without sounding harsh, I’ve had better written e-mails from Nigerian orphans asking me to help get their late father’s money out of the country.

Kind regards,

Stuart Clarke


I’M yet to sample the new Virgin Trains East Coast service to London. I’m told it is more expensive and less welcoming than the old East Coast operation.

But I’ll reserve judgement until I actually experience it.

In the meantime I’ve used the East Midlands Trains into St Pancras, which is decently priced and, after a visit to one of the on board toilets, it looks like the train company has a sense of humour.

A sign on the underside of the toilet seats says the following:

“Please don’t flush nappies, sanitary towels, paper towels, gum, old phones unpaid bills, junk mail, your ex’s sweater, hopes, dreams or goldfish, down this toilet.”

Have a great weekend.

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