A CENTRE of racing excellence threw open its doors to the public on Good Friday - and attracted a record number of visitors to the Yorkshire Dales town.
Middleham saw an influx of 7, 000 visitors for its annual stables open-day, which was opened by local MP William Hague and Kathryn Apanowicz, the partner of the late Richard Whiteley.
Horse racing has been at the heart of Middleham since the 18th century when race meetings were held on the High Moor. Today the town accommodates seventeen of England's flat and national hunt trainers with over 500 horses in training.
Mr Hague said: "Middleham is a tremendous success story and fully deserves its reputation as the finest racing centre in the north of England.
"We have some tremendously successful trainers and it is wonderful that they open their yards to so many people."
The open day gives racing fans and the general public the chance to see the race horses up close, as well as an opportunity to meet and talk to owners, jockeys and stable-hands.
"This is a very special day in the racing year," Ms Apanowicz added.
"Middleham is a hidden gem and we are delighted to be sharing our secret with so many people."
Proceeds from the stables open-day go to support local charities and the £20, 000 raised this year will help a number of good causes, including the Middleham Key Centre.