York Racecourse is to rename the Duke of York Stakes in a bid to distance itself from the Queen’s controversial second son.
Even though the prestigious six-furlong sprint was named after another Duke of York – Prince George, Duke of York who became King George V – officials at the course are to attempt to make its history clearer.
Andrew has been stripped of his honorary military titles by his mother and has stopped using his HRH style as he faces a civil sexual assault case.
Calls have also been made for Andrew to lose his York dukedom, which was given to him by his mother on his wedding day in 1986.
York’s head of marketing and sponsorship, James Brennan, said: “In the current news cycle, it has made the name a distraction.
“At the current time, what we want to do is stress its history and that it was in honour of the Duke of York who became King George V from 1898.
“So, any connection to Prince Andrew is through the title and it wasn’t named in any shape or form for him – it has been run as a Pattern race since 1971 and he did not become Duke of York until 1986.”
The Duke of York Stakes has been run as a six-furlong conditions event since 1968 and was promoted to Group Two status in 2003. The race was won last year by Starman, who went on to be crowned champion sprinter.
“It is something we have gone around the houses with a bit, because it is a recognised name and the whole point of Pattern races is that the name can be tracked down through the equine generations by bloodstock agents, trainers, racegoers etc,” Brennan added.
“You change a Pattern name with caution.
“But what we wanted to do, so the race could be left to be ‘the race’ and so we can talk about the next generations of Starmans and those sorts – rather than obsessing about the title in the current climate – was the proposal to the Pattern Committee to clarify its history and the man that it honours by just inserting an ‘1895’ prefix.
“The application will go for the 1895 Duke Of York Stakes and I wouldn’t want to second-guess the European Pattern Committee, but it would seem a reasonably straightforward request, you’d have hoped.”
Andrew was appointed the racecourse’s first patron in 2015, but gave up the position in 2019 after stepping down from public duties following his disastrous appearance on Newsnight.
Virginia Giuffre is suing the duke in the US for allegedly sexually assaulting her when she was a teenager.
She claims she was trafficked by the duke’s friend, convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, to have sex with Andrew when she was 17 and a minor under US law.
The duke has strenuously denied the allegations.