Crowds at Ripon Raceourse on St George’s Day this weekend will see a remarkable piece of film of First World War soldiers filmed at the course precisely 100 years ago.
Remarkably, racegoers this Saturday will be standing on exactly the same spot where troops stationed in Ripon, along with people from Ripon, came together for a day of fun before setting of to battle.
James Hutchinson, managing director and clerk of the course, said: “As well as the racing, it’s a chance to honour and remember troops who were stationed in Ripon a century ago.
“It is astonishing that we can actually see the racecourse stands in the film, and that our race-goers on Saturday watching the film on our big screen will be standing in exactly the same spot where those troops stood.”
Ripon Racecourse has been working with Yorkshire Film Archive to organise this ‘once in a century’ opportunity to commemorate those troops who fought and gave their lives in the First World War.
That special day of sports at Ripon Racecourse in 1916 was said to have been a joyous event with competitions, races, a cross country run, horse trials and Highland dancing, not a surprise as Highland regiments were stationed in Ripon at the time.
But it’s also a sad and poignant piece of film for it was shot shortly before the regiments were to leave for the Somme .
Many would go on to lose their lives on the fields of Flanders.
As for the racing itself at Ripon Racecourse, the seven-race programme with total prize money of £130,000 kicks off at 1.50pm.
The highlight of the afternoon will be The Download The Free Attheraces App Handicap Stakes, a £35,000 contest for stayers over two miles.
James Hutchinson said: “As a traditional racecourse it felt right to get behind St Georges Day at Ripon.
“We have some fantastic things lined up for the crowd to get into the festivities and with an attractive card of racing it’s sure to be a special day.”
Race-goers will be able to follow the main races from Sandown Park on the big screen, including the bet365 Gold Cup Chase.
There will be music from the Wetherby and District Silver Band, and a selection of inflatables and playgrounds at various parts of the course for young race-goers.