Category Archives: Thirsk

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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


You have to get up pretty early to put one over on wily veteran trainer Mick Easterby, but his granddaughter Jacqueline Coward is hoping to do just that when they go head-to-head for the first time in the UKinsuranceNET Hambleton Cup on Ladies Day at Thirsk on Saturday.
First season trainer Jacqueline runs Tapis Libre, a horse she inherited from her grandad this summer, while Mick will be represented by Tamayuz Magic in the £10,000 contest, a race he last won with Sporting Gesture in 2005.

Tapis Libre, who was beaten only four lengths when fifth behind Scrutinise in last season’s Hambleton Cup, made a winning start for his new trainer with an impressive success in the Ladies Derby at Epsom in July and though eight-years-old still has plenty of dash.

“How exciting to be taking on my grandfather, I want to beat him!” said Jacqueline, “he has been a great help to me, but we do have some lively banter so it will be great. This is the first time we have both run a horse in the same race!”

Tamayuz Magic, who won at Thirsk in May and has only once finished out of the frame in six visits to the North Yorkshire track, is at his best when there is cut in the ground so is likely to have conditions to suit.

“He’s been declared and we shall definitely run if the ground doesn’t firm up” said Mick’s son and assistant David Easterby, “and Jacqueline having a runner does make it that bit more interesting by creating a bit of family rivalry!”

Not that the family interest ends just there as Mick’s nephew Tim will also have a runner in the Cup with Icefall representing his Great Habton yard.

The Hambleton Cup represents a first venture into race sponsorship for the Darlington-based UKinsuranceNET, an online insurance company. Managing Director Steve Bradley is a long-standing owner who has had horses with Richard Fahey and Jane Chapple-Hyam among others.

“I have had quite a few winners, so have experienced the thrill of being a winning owner and now I shall see what it is like from the other side of the fence by sponsoring a race. We shall have a great day as we are using it to reward our hard-working staff with a day at the races!” he said.

Ladies Day is always one of the highlights of Thirsk’s season and with prizes for the Best Dressed Lady, Best Dressed Gentleman and Best Hat to be won, it promises to be a great mix of high fashion and top quality racing.

There is an eight race card starting at 2.20pm with entrance to the Premier Enclosure costing £27, while it’s £16 to go in the Paddock. Price reductions are available on line at and children under 18 get in free when accompanied by a paying adult.
Car and coach parking is free, a big screen will show the action and there are play areas for the children. Gates open at 11am.