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STAR TRAINERS Richard Fahey and David O’Meara will go head-to-head in the two feature races on a high quality card to mark the opening day of Thirsk’s 2017 season on Saturday.

The pair come up against each other in a cracking renewal of the Michael Foster Stakes, a race, which commemorates the long-serving director and former chairman of the North Yorkshire course, and lock horns again in the New “Cherry Tree” Racegoers Package Handicap.

In the Michael Foster Fahey’s Rene Mathis, who was second in the race last year, is up against O’Meara’s group race performer Custom Cut in what promises to be a fascinating clash, although it nearly didn’t happen with Fahey making a last minute decision to run.

“I was a bit worried about the opposition and it was 50-50 an hour before declarations, but when just three were declared and the race reopened, I had another look and decided to give it a go” said Fahey.

The Malton trainer certainly knows what it takes to win as he has an outstanding record in the race with three winners in the past 10 years, while his runners have made the frame in six of the other seven runnings. The one exception was 2010 when Fahey wasn’t represented.

With over 30 winners on the board already this season and a team in form as evidenced by a Beverley double on Wednesday, Fahey has high hopes that Rene Mathis will go one better after chasing home Kevin Ryan’s Kelinni last year.

Although Ryan is represented by Mount Tahan, who was fifth in the Spring Mile at Doncaster last time, the main threat looks to be O’Meara’s Custom Cut, who has been plying his trade in group races. He was beaten a neck when third in the group three Diomed Stakes at Epsom last June and was placed in both the Strensall Stakes at York and the Boomerang Stakes at Leopardstown.

“Custom Cut is in good form following his run in the Doncaster Mile last time and I have no worries about dropping him back to seven furlongs” said O’Meara.

It will be the first time Custom Cut has run over a trip shorter than a mile since he was tenth in the Prix de la Foret at Longchamp in 2015.

Fahey and O’Meara go head-to-head again in the Cherry Tree with Gabrial’s King and Saved By The Bell, although both may be trumped by Tim Easterby’s Mukhayyam, who Is sure to improve for a recent run at Catterick.

Off the track, there will be live music throughout the day supplied by The White Ties and lots for younger racegoers to enjoy in the Family Enclosure.

Entry to the Premier Enclosure costs £26 (£24 if booked online ahead of the day), while Paddock admission can be obtained for £16 (£15 online). There are also great reductions for group bookings while, as always, adult accompanied children under 18 get in free. For more information go to

Gates open at 11am ahead of the first race at 1.50pm.

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TOP-CLASS action awaits at Thirsk on Saturday (April 22), when the North Yorkshire racecourse stages its opening meeting of the 2017 season with the first of five successive weekend fixtures in a row until May 20.

In the first of 16 meetings at Thirsk this year, a set of high-quality middle distance horses will line up for New Cherry Tree Premier Racegoers Package Handicap over 12 furlongs, a race which highlights one of the great new offers to racegoers this year.

For just £40, the package offers Premier Enclosure parking, entry and badge, the official racecard, a choice of alcoholic, soft or hot drink from the Cherry Tree Bar, which has its own private lawn area, the choice of gourmet food and A £2 Totepool betting voucher.

Yorkshire trainers Brian Ellison and David O’Meara lead the way with three entries each, although in a race which is often dominated by horses at the top of the handicap, Mark Johnston may have the ace in the hole with Final.

The five-year-old will be well forward after a campaign on the all-weather which saw him win at Lingfield in February and Newcastle last month. On his latest start, he clipped heels with another runner at Newcastle and gave jockey PJ McDonald a nasty looking fall.

Sharing top billing on Saturday is the seven-furlong Michael Foster Conditions Stakes, commemorating the long-serving director and former chairman of Thirsk.

A Class 3 event worth over £9,000 to the winner, the race usually attracts quality entries from several of the top Northern and Southern stables with Richard Fahey the outstanding yard. Since 2007, Fahey-trained horses have won three times and finished in the first four every year except 2010.

Racegoers will also be able to follow all the action on the big screen opposite the stands and Paddock.

As well as some thrilling racing on the track, there will be plenty of entertainment off it lots of interesting attraction to keep the younger racegoers occupied in the Family Enclosure.

Entry to the Premier Enclosure costs £26 (£24 if booked online ahead of the day), while Paddock admission can be obtained for £16 (£15 online). There are also great reductions for group bookings. For more information go to

Gates open at 11am ahead of the first race at 1.50pm.

For further information please contact Thirsk racecourse on 01845 522276 or John Sexton on 01539 533005 or 07760 623106

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Jack Berry and Red Shirt Night have a place firmly in the history of Pontefract Racecourse. As a trainer, Jack Berry was renowned for wearing his Red Shirt as his lucky symbol. He was easy to spot when cheering home the likes of Mind Games and Paris House, two of his very best horses. Since retiring, he’s been the driving force behind Jack Berry House – a state of the art rehabilitation centre for injured and retired jockeys in Malton. Now in its 23rd year, some racegoers will also don a red shirt but it’s certainly not a requirement! The charity race night is one of the most popular fixtures at the West Yorkshire track, and marks the last of the three evening fixtures during the 2015 season.

The race meeting also incorporates a Beer Festival, with local breweries Revolutions Brewing Co, Penning Breweries, Ossett Brewery and the Bier Huis all showcasing their wares. The beer festival will be held throughout the evening in the Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure and racegoers in both this area and the Premier Enclosure will be able to access the trademark best selling ales.

After racing, the Beer Festival will continue for around an hour as local 80s tribute band Alibi take to the stage to entertain racegoers who will hopefully be enjoying some Summer sunshine!

If you’re not partaking in the Beer Festival and you’re bringing the car, then the Racecourse’s Designated Driver promotion continues at this meeting. Pick up a voucher when you park the car and you’ll be able to claim your two free soft drinks courtesy of Harrogate Spring Water. Vouchers are redeemable from designated locations around the course.

There’s an exciting racing programme as well with 6 races kicking off at 6.30pm.The feature race is the £15,000 Betfred Supports Jack Berry House Handicap – a 5 furlong sprint which will take around just a minute to win it! Trainer Paul Midgley, whose sprinters are carrying all before them this season, won this race last year and will no doubt have a strong contingent once again!

There’s a varied supporting card with the Countrywide Freight Maiden Auction Stakes opening proceedings. This is the race where you’re likely to spot the odd star of the future. Two years ago, Treaty of Paris won this before going on to beat The Grey Gatsby at York! Last year, George Dryden tore up the turf by winning impressively by 6 lengths.

It’s the last evening meeting of the Summer at Pontefract and it’s always a popular event – make sure you take advantage of the advanced booking rates available through the Racecourse’s website at