Free Friday at Catterick Races

Catterick Races will host an additional National Hunt fixture next Friday, 22 February and racegoers can enjoy free entry into all enclosures.

This fixture is one of six additional fixtures announced by the British Horse Racing Authority (BHA) scheduled to take place between 20-28 February following the loss of six days of racing due to equine influenza. The fixtures are as follows, with two Flat floodlit fixtures followed by four Jump fixtures:

Chelmsford City – Wednesday 20 February
Wolverhampton – Thursday 21 February
Catterick – Friday 22 February
Uttoxeter – Monday 25 February
Ffos Las – Tuesday 26 February
Musselburgh – Thursday 28 February

Catterick Racecourse will open its gates to the public from 11.20am on Friday 22 February, with the first race of 6 races scheduled for 1.20pm.

There will be free entry into both the Course Enclosure and Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure. Racegoers do not need to book or register in advance and are invited to simply arrive at the course on the day ready to enjoy a thrilling afternoon of Jump racing action!

Fiona Needham, General Manager and Clerk of the Course said: “We’re pleased to be able to offer this additional fixture following the loss of our last three meetings due to frost and the Equine Influenza outbreak. We’re keen to get back racing and I’m sure that our racegoers are too, so it seemed like a great opportunity to offer a complimentary race day to thank our supporters for their understanding over this last month.”

Bars and restaurants will be open as usual, except for the Course Enclosure bar which will be closed at this meeting.

As with all Catterick’s fixtures, there will be a big screen at the course on the day giving racegoers the best views of the action and the free shuttle bus will bring racegoers from Richmond Market Place to the racecourse approximately one hour prior to the first race.


York Racecourse is pleased to confirm that 2019 will see a further strengthening of its race programme; featuring both the upgrade of the Sky Bet City of York Stakes to Group 2 status, as well as the £1m Sky Bet Ebor becoming an open handicap.

These changes, approved by the European Pattern Committee and British Horseracing Authority, should further encourage the best horses – be they seven furlong specialists or the top of the staying division – to run at the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival.

Already a historic and successful race, the Sky Bet Ebor will celebrate a new chapter in a story that dates back to 1843 when up to 22 thoroughbreds compete for their share of a seven figure purse on Saturday 24 August. The new conditions will mean the top rated horse in the Ebor will carry 9st 10lb and all other Ebor runners’ weights will be allocated in reference to their rating in relation to the top weight.

This feature contest of the final day of the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival will be the culmination of the new Race to the Ebor Series – an initiative that sees the winners of three designated staying races offered a berth in York’s new 22 bay stalls. The three nominated contests are The Sky Bet Melrose of 2018 – meaning, Ghostwatch has already earned a slot for trainer, Charlie Appleby and Team Godolphin; the second race is the Sky Bet Jorvik run on Wednesday 15 May 2019 (day one of the Dante Festival); and then the Sky Bet Grand Cup, the pattern race highlight of Saturday 15 June (Macmillan Charity Raceday.)

York Racecourse is further delighted at the recent confirmation that the Sky Bet City of York Stakes has been upgraded in status to become a Group Two contest. Also run on the Saturday of the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival, the seven furlong contest has a proud roll of honour. Most recently, Expert Eye carried the famous silks of Prince Khalid Abdullah to victory ahead of further success in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. Ongoing investment in this race will see the upgraded contest offer prize money of £200,000 – more than double the minimum value for a Group 2 race.

Lord Grimthorpe, Chairman of York Racecourse, as well as Racing Manager to Juddmonte Farms, and so to Expert Eye, said; “York takes a real pride in the quality of racing that it offers, so it is tremendous news that the Sky Bet City of York is to be upgraded and so become the fifth Group Two at the Ebor Festival. It was a special moment to win it with Expert Eye last season and I would be confident that the 2019 victor will need to be another good sort. The ongoing investment in prize money demonstrates our commitment to the race.”

Talking about the role of the Sky Bet Ebor for British Racing, Chief Operating Officer of the British Horseracing Authority, Richard Wayman, said, “The 2019 Ebor will be the first £1m Flat handicap to take place in Great Britain and the race is likely to become a significant target for quality stayers both nationally and internationally. All involved should be commended for taking this famous and historic race into an exciting new chapter as part of the sport’s strategy to support the production, ownership and retention of the staying horse.”

With Ebor hero, Quick Ransom, back in 1992, part of a now record breaking haul of flat winners, trainer Mark Johnston said “This prize-money is a huge boost for the Ebor and surely provides an incredible incentive, even greater than before, for owners to try and find a horse that can win them an Ebor. Making the race an open handicap is absolutely the right thing to do; no horse can now ever be too good for the Ebor”.

Leading Newmarket handler, Hugo Palmer, said, “This is wonderful news and something I have been hugely supportive of from the outset. I am sure that having a landmark open handicap for stayers in Europe will help to keep talent here in the northern hemisphere and, who knows, maybe an Aussie will try to win it one day too! We have all seen the impact that the Melbourne Cup has on Australian and world racing, and it is great that York and Sky Bet have been able to invest so significantly in this famous race.”


Catterick’s National Hunt season continues on Thursday 10 January, featuring it’s most prestigious National Hunt race, the North Yorkshire Grand National, which has once again been kindly sponsored by the Richmond based racecourse supplier firm Watt Fences.
Racegoers will enjoy a seven race card on the day which gets underway at 12.25pm, while the gates will be open to the public from 10.25am onwards. The Watt Fences North Yorkshire Grand National Handicap Steeple Chase is scheduled for 2.45pm and is Catterick’s most valuable National Hunt race with the runners competing for more than £26,000 prize money over three miles and six furlongs, making it Catterick’s longest race.
Fiona Needham, Clerk of the Course & General Manager said: “The North Yorkshire Grand National is a race we look forward to every year, it’s a real test of stamina and jumping ability and it’s always exciting to see horses go on from success in this race to take part in the Grand National at Aintree!”
The race tends to attract runners from some of the leading trainers in the United Kingdom, while a trainer well worth watching out for is the Yorkshire based Sue Smith, who has won the race for the past three years. Last year Smith won with I Just Know, ridden by Sean Quinlan, who then went on to compete in the 2018 Grand National at Aintree.
Previously, the partnership of Sue Smith and jockey Danny Cook have enjoyed back to back victories with Straidnahanna in 2017 and Lackamon in 2016.
The winning owner of the North Yorkshire Grand National will receive the Denys Smith Memorial Trophy. Denys Smith, who trained Red Alligator to win the 1968 Grand National at Aintree, was a leading dual-purpose trainer who recorded a remarkable 146 winners at Catterick.
Racegoers will be able to get a true idea of what the horses and jockeys experience during a race by visiting the parade ring, where a section of a steeple chase fence has been positioned. Sending their ‘Steeplechase Selfie’ to the racecourse could also earn them a chance to win tickets to a future meeting at Catterick Races!
A big screen will be at the course on the day to give racegoers the best views of all the action. A free shuttle bus will be running to take racegoers from Richmond Market Place to the racecourse approximately one hour prior to the first race, and will return again after the last race.