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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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