Visitors from the USA’s oldest racecourse paid a visit to the UK’s oldest horse racing course in Chester to exchange picture gifts.

VIPs from the USA’s oldest racecourse in Saratoga Springs, New York State, celebrated Chester’s May Racing Festival.

Links between the two cities were made last year when Saratoga Racetrack celebrated its 150th anniversary.

Two limited edition prints of racing scenes in Chester were sent to Saratoga by Cheshire West and Chester Council, the University of Chester, and Chester Race Company, all partners in the Cheshire Racing Hub.

Former Lord Mayor of Chester, Cllr Jill Houlbrook, officially welcomed Charles Wait, a director of the New York Racing Association (NYRA) and his wife, Candace, together with Bob Giordano, and his wife, Michele, to Chester Town Hall.

While there, a gift of a painting specially commissioned by the City of Saratoga Springs, was presented to the city.

The painting is of a scene from the Oklahoma training track at Saratoga Springs and depicts people from the Saratoga racing scene, including work rider Danny Wright, who was originally from Chester and rode his first winner at Chester Racecourse.

Cllr Houlbrook said: “I am delighted to receive this specially commissioned painting which depicts a racing scene at Saratoga Springs and hope the guests enjoyed their whistle-stop tour of our wonderful Town Hall.”

While in Chester, the guests enjoyed a programme of activity exploring the city and visiting the stable yards of Cheshire’s two most high-profile racehorse trainers, Donald McCain at Bankhouse Stables and Tom Dascombe at Manor House Stables, as well as being hosted at Bangor and Chester Races.

Initial links between the two cities were developed by Kay Kent, director of strategic projects at the University of Chester, and chairman of the Cheshire Racing Hub, a project funded by the British Horseracing Authority and Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

Kay said: “We were thrilled to welcome our Saratoga guests to Chester to enjoy the May Festival at Chester Racecourse and to gain an insight into the local racing industry which is increasingly developing into international markets.

“We are very proud of our local racecourses at Chester and Bangor and hope to build on links developed between Chester and Saratoga, two great racing cities which each share a unique position in the history of horse racing.”