Irish eyes may be smiling at Thirsk on Saturday (May 20), but it could be female eyes that are flashing with delight after the two big sprints that highlight the ever-popular annual Irish Day at the North Yorkshire track.
Ruth Carr, who trains just down the road at Stillington, can take centre stage with Pipers Note in the big race of the day, the Constant Security Services Handicap, which carries a prize of almost £13,000 to the winner.
Pipers Note was trained by Richard Whitaker when he won the David Chapman Handicap at Ripon last season, a race which commemorates her grandfather and while the seven-year-old has run well in four races since moving to Carr’s yard, he has still to win for his new handler.
“It’s a pity that the rain has come as he would prefer better ground, but he is in good form and all the horses are running well, so I shall let him take his chance” said Ruth.
And she added: “He would have an obvious chance on his run in the Cammidge Trophy at Doncaster when he was third to Tupi, but he ran a lot better than the result suggests when he was eighth at Ripon last time as he got no room at all at a vital stage of the race”.
Less clear cut is the chance of Roaring Forties, who makes his return to racing after almost two years on the sidelines for Wetherby trainer Rebecca Bastiman in the six furlong UKinsuranceNET Handicap.
Formerly trained by Charlie Appleby for Godolphin, Roaring Forties looked to have a bright future when coming back from a gelding operation to win nurseries at Chester and Kempton in 2015, but he has not been seen out since finishing last but one in the Betway Nursery at York’s Ebor meeting that August.
“I bought him at Doncaster as he had had a few issues, but nothing too bad and he has settled in really well. We have a completely different regime to the one he has been used to and I think it has suited him.
“He has been off the track for a long time, but has been working well at home and while I am not sure the ground will altogether suit him, you have to start somewhere and I am hopeful he will run well” said Rebecca.
There is a strong supporting card featuring the Wharton Construction Maiden Stakes and the Marion Gibson Brown Handicap on a day which opens with the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden Fillies Stakes.
The Irish theme continues off the track with live music in the Paddock Enclosure where the Irish band Murphy’s Marbles make a welcome return to the course after their brilliant sets last year kept racegoers’ feet tapping.
For the youngsters there is plenty of entertainment too, with bouncy castles and a children’s play area in the family enclosure, while there will be a chance to follow the action on the big screens in the Paddock Enclosure and trackside.
Entry to the Premier Enclosure costs £28, and it’s £16 to go in the Paddock on the day, but there are great discounts for pre-booking and for groups, while, as always at Thirsk, admission for children under the age of 18 is free, as long as they are accompanied by a paying adult. Car parking is also free.
Racing starts at 2.10pm, but the gates will open at 11am.