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Another year to remember at Thirsk

Thirsk Racecource Logo

Another excellent season at Thirsk came to a close yesterday as the racecourse staged its 16th fixture of 2019 on Monday, September 16.

The 2019 season saw a total attendance increase of 6.5 per cent on the year before, while the racecourse’s enhanced owners and trainers facilities ensured a healthy average of more than 11 runners per race throughout the season, placing it in the top echelon of tracks across the country.

William Hill Summer Cup day on Saturday, August 3, the most valuable fixture of the year at Thirsk with more than £100,000 in prize money across seven races, attracted a modern day record crowd of 10,500 racegoers.

Thirsk’s feature race of the season, the £40,000 Cliff Stud Thirsk Hunt Cup on Saturday, May 4, was won by Hayadh, trained locally at Cowthorpe by Rebecca Bastiman and ridden by Lewis Edmunds. Paul Sutherland’s Cliff Stud, located just outside Helmsley, was unveiled as the sponsor in March on an initial three-year deal.

Scouting For Girls performed at Thirsk’s first music night on Friday, August 16. The after-racing gig was very well received and the racecourse hopes to announce its headline act for 2020 early in the New Year.

Sophie Brown and the Karl Burke-trained Baron Run captured the second edition of The Creditas Taking Care Of Business Stable Staff Stakes, run in aid of Racing Welfare, on Friday, August 30. Eleven stable staff took part in the charity contest and each runner was led up by a licenced jockey, who were keen to show their appreciation to the men and women who work tirelessly behind the scenes on a daily basis.

Richard Fahey captured the Harrowells top trainer award at Thirsk in 2019, with 13 winners from 77 runners at a strike rate of 17 per cent. The pick of his winners, Ventura Rebel, made a successful debut at Thirsk’s opening fixture on April 13 before going on to finish second in the G2 Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Musley Bank-based Fahey said: “Thirsk has been very good to us over the years. It is only 25 minutes away and we like having runners there.

“The new owners and trainer facilities are very good. In fairness, most racecourses are upping their game and when one does it, the others have to.

“It is great to see and can only be a benefit for the sport and industry as a whole.”

Other notable names to successfully grace the turf at Thirsk this year include the prolific King’s Advice. Trained by Mark Johnston and the winning-most horse of 2019 with eight victories, the five-year-old subsequently landed valuable handicaps at Newmarket’s July Festival and Glorious Goodwood.

The Harrowells leading jockey at Thirsk in 2019 was Danny Tudhope, who partnered 10 winners at a strike rate of 20 per cent, while Sean Davis claimed the Harrowells top apprentice award with five successes from 30 rides.

Weighing-room colleague Jack Garrity captured the popular Jockeys ‘Thimbledon’ Swingball Championship in the paddock before racing on Wednesday, July 3.

Thirsk director and former chairman Patrick Hibbert-Foy sadly passed away on Sunday, September 1, after a long and brave fight against cancer. Patrick, who spent many years in racing as a starter, stewards’ secretary and latterly a racecourse steward, made a huge contribution to the racecourse since joining the board in April, 2013. A horse named in his honour and in which Patrick was a part-owner, Idoapologise, produced a poignant moment at Thirsk yesterday when winning the opening Visit Sri Lanka Nursery Handicap under P J McDonald.

Racing returns to Thirsk in 2020 with the opening fixture taking place on Saturday, April 18.

During the close season, Thirsk will continue its very evident programme of recent investment in the facilities, with plans afoot to expand the capacity of the stable yard, re-roof the existing stable blocks and install a permanent ‘big screen’ within the Paddock.

Equine stars take centre stage at ARC Malton Open Day

Sponsored by Arena Racing Company (ARC) and organised by Racing Welfare, this year’s Malton Open Day will take place on Sunday 15th September.  Malton is one of the most prominent and historic racing centres in the UK, and 13 yards in and around the town will welcome visitors on the day to meet the equine residents, alongside their trainers and teams of staff who keep the cogs turning on a daily basis.

Yards will open from 8.45am until 12noon, with buses sponsored by AFS Equine, Betdaq, Careers in Racing, Go Racing in Yorkshire, Parnaby’s and Wm McIvor & Son to ferry people from yard to yard.  Racing superstars on show include this year’s Acomb winner Valdermoro, whom the public will have the chance to meet alongside Richard Fahey’s other star turns at his Musley Bank yard.  These include the Group 2 winning Forest Ranger, Royal Ascot winner Space Traveller and the promising 2yo Show Me Show Me, making Fahey’s impressive base a must to visit on the day.

Fans of the Jumps shouldn’t miss the chance to meet top dual-purpose trainer Brian Ellison, who welcomes visitors to Spring Cottage Stables again this year.  Winner of both the Charlie Hall Chase and Cotswold Chase in 2018, Definitely Red will be amongst Ellison’s esteemed charges in residence on the day, joined by the 2018 Cheltenham Greatwood Handicap Hurdle victor Nietzsche.  Also enjoying a great season is Tim Easterby, and visitors will have the chance to meet Group 3 winner Wells Farhh Go alongside Listed winners Copper Knight and Vintage Brut amongst his team of horses.

The full list of trainers supporting Malton Open Day this year are:

Julie Camacho                     Brian Ellison                          Michael Herrington

Mark Campion                      Richard Fahey                      Ollie Pears

Mick Easterby                       Roger Fell                                John Quinn

Tim Easterby                         Suzzanne France                Nigel Tinkler

Lucy Egerton

Visitors will also have the chance to look around one of racing’s crown jewels in the form of the Injured Jockey’s Fund northern rehabilitation centre, Jack Berry House, which is open for tours from 10.00 – 14.00.

A full programme of family entertainment follows at Highfield Gallops in the afternoon, featuring the return of the ever-popular Linton Pet Shop dog show, which is open to all.  Also back this year is the Moneyweb jockey and Pony Club relay show jumping competition and terrier racing.  New for 2019 is a high octane flyball demonstration and Crombie Wilkinson and White Rose Saddlery jockey and Pony Club agility competition.   The entertainment carries on from 5pm until dark with a party in the gallops marquee.  Sure to deliver a friendly atmosphere and featuring a live DJ and hog roast sponsored by McClarrons Insurance, all are welcome to see the day out in style.  Entry is free to the gallops marquee is free from 5pm onwards.

As the organisers of the event, Racing Welfare will be the main beneficiary charity of the day.  The charity is very active in Malton, organising a number of social and sporting events for people working in racing throughout the year.  The area has a vibrant retired racing community also, well catered for with monthly coffee mornings and day trips and outings, including a popular racing reminiscence group, all of which aim to prevent loneliness and social isolation within the local community.

Lucy Miller, Racing Welfare’s Regional Welfare Manager for the North, said “This year’s Malton Open Day is jam-packed with family entertainment and we’re all set for a fantastic day.  We are very grateful to all 13 trainers who will be welcoming in the public on the day, their support really is crucial to the success of the event.  Malton is a fabulous training centre and the open day not only delivers the warm welcome that you would expect in this part of the world, but also provides a showcase for racing in the area by offering a fabulous variety of yards for people to visit on the day”.

Tickets for the event are on sale now at www.maltonopenday.co.uk.  Adult passes are £12.50 and include a programme, with concessions at £8.50 and under 16s go free of charge all day.

YORKSHIRE BEER FESTIVAL RETURNS TO CATTERICK RACECOURSE THIS MONTH

Catterick’s Flat season continues on Saturday 21 September with the return of the Yorkshire Beer Festival Race Day, in association with The Pennine Brewing Company.

The action packed seven-race card will kick off at 1.50pm with the British Stallion Studs EBF Novice Stakes and the last race is scheduled for 5.20pm.

The highlight of the afternoon comes at 4:10pm when the course will host the 2019 Catterick Twelve Furlong Series Final – sponsored by Constant Security. Now in its seventh year, the series final offers £20,000 in prize money and is open to those who have run in one of the qualifying races since the season started in June.

Fiona Needham, General Manager and Clerk of the Course said:

“The Twelve Furlong Series brings some thrilling racing action to the track and last year we saw INDIA, half-sister to BIG ORANGE take the title. We’re looking forward to this year’s final and can’t wait to see who will be crowned Catterick’s 2019 Twelve Furlong Series Champion!”

Alongside the racing action, Pennine Brewing Co. will have twelve different ales and ciders for racegoers to sample throughout the afternoon. Based locally to the racecourse at Well, the Pennine Brewing Co. has several permanent brews, and their brewers also develop a number of seasonal specials throughout the year.

In addition, the Black Marcs will be playing live throughout the afternoon and after racing. The gates will be staying open longer than usual, until 6.30pm, allowing racegoers to enjoy the Beer Festival and live music into the evening once the racing has finished.

Emma Binnian, Sales & Marketing Manager said:

“We’re thrilled to welcome the Pennine Brewing Co. back to Catterick for our second annual Yorkshire Beer Festival Race Day. With quality racing action, family entertainment, live music and a beer festival, there really is something for everyone to enjoy at this fixture!”

The racecourse supports the Racecourse Association’s #PaceYourself campaign to encourage responsible drinking at the course. Racegoers are reminded to pace themselves when enjoying their day at the races by allowing one soft drink in between each alcoholic drink.

As with all of Catterick Racecourse’s fixtures, accompanied under 18’s will be admitted free of charge and in addition to the indoor and outdoor play areas, there will also be bouncy castles and a roundabout in the Course Enclosure to keep any younger racing fans entertained throughout the day.

A big screen will also be at the course on the day to enable racegoers to see even more of the action from the track, as well as showing the big race action from Ayr Races – featuring the Ayr Gold Cup.

The gates will be open to the public from 11.50am. While the free shuttle bus will bring racegoers from Richmond Market Place to the racecourse approximately one hour prior to the first race.

Tickets will be available to purchase at the gates on the day, while advanced and group booking discounts are available at www.catterickbridge.co.uk.