Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Two Grand National trophies in just one season

It’s not every trainer who wins two Grand National trophies in the same year. But then, Claines-based Richard Newland is certainly not every trainer. In April, Newland successfully lifted jump racing’s most prestigious prize at Aintree, and last week at Worcester, Lysino rewarded his trainer with the Grand National trophy won by the legendary Fred Rimell in 1970 with Gay Trip. The Fred Rimell memorial chase is one of the highlights of the Worcester racing calendar, and this year’s renewal saw Lysino settle far better than in his previous races to win by 18 lengths. Newland’s assistant, Rod Trow commented after the race that the horse has a ‘serious engine’, but being a buzzy sort, he is clearly not a straight forward ride.

The feature race on the card offered punters the best quality chase of the season at Worcester. The annual Richard Davis Memorial chase produced another winner with a promising future, and the second leg of a treble on the day for jockey, Tom Scudamore. Lookslikerainted is trained in Newport by Rebecca Curtis and was having his first run over fences. His trainer felt he would come on plenty for the run. Interestingly, the first three home in the race were all by top stallion, Milan.

The race was supported as always, by Richard Davis’s parents, John and Ann, whose guests on the day included Stan Mellor. Mellor was the first jockey to ride 1,000 winners and his inaugural ride was at Worcester, when aged just 15 in 1953.

One of the many things we enjoy about the racing at Worcester is looking out for those progressive horses who will take their experiences at Pitchcroft on to bigger and better things. A horse that falls into that category is Lady Buttons (pictured), trained by Philip Kirby in Middleham, 172 miles north of Worcester, for owner/breeders, Jayne and Keith Sivills.

The 4 year old Beneficial filly is a dual Wetherby bumper winner last season, before finishing runner up by just a head, to Alan Kings’s Avispa in a 20-runner, listed Aintree bumper at the Grand National meeting in April. Lady Buttons’ pedigree is full of stamina and she made all on her hurdling debut at Worcester last week, jumping well to hold off the challenges of another useful-looking filly, Hurricane’s Girl, the first runner for the newly-formed Phil Tuffnal Racing Ltd who is trained by Jonjo O’Neill.

O’Neill has had an outstanding season at Worcester this year, as has champion jockey, Tony McCoy who has partnered the majority of the Jackdaws Castle winners. The season finale meeting at Pitchcroft tomorrow, where all 7 races have been sponsored for the first time by The King’s School, Worcester, will also see the conclusion of the 2014 Red Mills trainer’s championship at the course. The sponsors will be on hand to present 2 tonnes of their horse feed to O’Neill, who is streets ahead of his nearest rival.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Future stars shine as the National Hunt season draws closer

National Hunt racing fans up and down the country are gearing up for the thrill of the winter season because at last, the rain softened ground is starting to entice trainers to bring out their stable stars. We are seeing horses to follow for the coming months, one of which won the bumper at the most recent Worcester meeting.

It was a small but select field of 6, of which 5 horses had already won races, 4 of those were Irish maiden point to points. Masterplan (pictured) burst through his rivals to stay on strongly under a confident ride by Noel Fehily for Charlie Longsdon. The horse cost 25,000 gns at the Cheltenham May sale and is a 3 mile chaser in the making.

Another horse for the future was the winner of the maiden hurdle on the same card. Ballycoe was having his stable debut for Paul Nicholls and impressed jockey Sam Twiston-Davies to the point he commented the horse could well be a Welsh National type.

Conditional Tom Bellamy is sponsored by Stirrups restaurant at Cutnal Green and had his first winner for new boss Alan King at Exeter aboard Prettyasapicture. Bellamy was featured riding at Worcester in a recent Midlands Today racing special which spanned 4 nights.

Alan King also trains Shadarpour for a new syndicate set up by Arena Racing Company, owners of Worcester Racecourse. Formerly with Gary Moore, the horse had his first run for King in a handicap hurdle at Exeter which he won by 2 lengths under Wayne Hutchinson.

Another Worcester winner to watch this season is the impressive El Namoose, trained by John Ferguson. The 5 year old followed his recent Pitchcroft success with victory under champion jockey, AP McCoy in a Huntingdon bumper, winning on the bridle under a 10lb penalty. He has a quote of 33-1 for the Supreme and Neptune Novice hurdles at Cheltenham next March.

Cheltenham’s first meeting of the new winter season got underway last weekend, when three other Worcester winners shone again. Valerie Lewis Memorial chase winner at Worcester in June, The Romford Pele, who was also successful in the listed John Smiths Summer Cup at Uttoxeter, won a novice chase under Barry Geraghty for Rebecca Curtis. Curtis now has an eye on the Hennessy at Newbury for her future star.

Neil Mulholland has been scooping up the prizes recently and was rewarded at Cheltenham when The Young Master followed up his Worcester win by taking the Amateur Rider’s handicap chase. The horse has now won 7 of his previous 9 starts.

The third Worcester winner to taste success at Cheltenham over the weekend was Jonjo O’Neill’s In the Rough.  The 5 year old has stepped up in trip from his 3 wins this summer at Worcester and now looks set for a 3 mile chasing career.

Worcester’s meeting tomorrow has attracted 181 entries, significantly more than for recent meetings when the ground was quicker.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Shark snaps up his first Worcester win

A trainer currently going places, certainly as far as results at Worcester are concerned, is 33 year old Neil Mulholland who trains near Bath. The former apprentice to Aidan O'Brien, who is also the current champion trainer in Jersey, took out his licence in 2008 and secured his first ever training treble at Worcester's last meeting. Mulholland's Ashcott Boy (pictured) racked up a double at the last two consecutive Worcester meetings under Mark Quinlan, and maiden Jim Job Jones, who had pulled up on his previous 2 starts has proved a revelation, winning at Pitchcroft at odds of 20-1, and following this up with victory at Southwell last week when sent off at 2-1 favourite.

Irish trainer, Shark Hanlon rarely visits Pitchcroft and had never previously returned home across the Irish Sea with a Worcester winner under his belt. That all changed for the County Carlow trainer when Nearest the Pin won the £10k feature chase under a calculated ride by AP McCoy, one leg of a treble for McCoy on the day.

Claines trainer, Richard Newland demonstrated another example of how well he places his horses when Mart Lane won the £50k Class 1 listed handicap chase at Market Rasen under Daryl Jacob recently. Jacob gave the 9 year old an excellent hold-up ride, following the horse's summer break. Mart Lane had been pulled up in his 2 previous spring starts, including in the 30 runner Topham Chase at Aintree in April. Newland also had a winner at Chepstow's first jumps meeting of the new season last week.  Six year old Hawdyerwheesht, who ran at Worcester in early September, won the selling hurdle and was bought back in for 7,500 gns.

Cropthorne trainer, Tony Carroll tasted success at the same meeting when Taroum went one better than his Stratford 2nd place in September, by winning the handicap hurdle. Taroum has also run 4 times at Worcester, coming 3rd at his most recent attempt in August. 

With the winter jumps horses slowly starting to emerge on the scene, and Cheltenham's first meeting of the new season due next Friday, entries for this week's Worcester meeting are encouraging in terms of numbers. We will be celebrating 50 years of the Injured Jockey's Fund and will be joined at the course by Chickey Oaksey, wife of the late Lord Oaksey. The IJF 50th Anniversary maiden hurdle is the final race on the card and has attracted 22 entries, including horses from the yards of Paul Nicholls, Rebecca Curtis and David Pipe. The first race tomorrow is due off at 2pm.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Another four timer for McCoy at Pitchcroft

For the second time in as many months, AP McCoy rode a four timer at Worcester last week. His strike rate for the month of August was a phenomenal 40% and September is promising to be equally impressive, if not better. The 4 wins included a double on the day for trainer John Ferguson and owners, Bloomfields. The first of their two successes came aboard El Namoose in the bumper. The 5 year old flat bred, by Authorized, tasted victory at Musselburgh in January and went on to run in the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival in March where he put in a creditable performance but was reluctant to settle. McCoy gave him good cover in the Worcester race and he won easily, coasting home on the bridle.  He could be an exciting prospect going forward. McCoy also steered home locally trained Marju’s Quest to win the Westlands Worcester sponsored handicap hurdle.  The improving 4 year old who has won twice at Fontwell in recent weeks, comes from David Dennis’ yard at Hanley Swan.

Another local trainer enjoying a purple patch is Ian Williams, based at Alvechurch. Williams enjoyed a double at Plumpton on Sunday, both in the hands of Richard Johnson. Cool Sky followed up his recent Worcester win to beat Nicky Henderson’s Springinherstep by 3 lengths in the handicap hurdle, and Teak followed up for the trainer in the next race. Teak is a good example of the versatility of Williams’ string. The horse had been down to run in the Cesarewitch trial at Newmarket the day before, having won 3 times on the flat this year, but was a non-runner after the rain changed the going.

Most trainers are hosting seasonal open days to parade their winter prospects currently, with both David Dennis and Ian Williams opening their doors in the last couple of weeks. The dry forecast for the next month will undoubtedly have an effect on how soon we see the stars of the winter season have their first runs back on the racecourses, and will for the time being keep the field sizes relatively small due to the quick going.

There are interesting stats in the British Jumps Owner’s Championship table this week.  The first 5 owners in order, read Mr John P McManus, Bloomfields, Paul & Clare Rooney, Mr RER Williams and Favourite’s racing (owners of Marju’s Quest). Three out of the five names listed against these owners as their horse with the most win and prize money have won at Worcester this summer and one came second, including at the top of the list, JP McManus’s horse, It’s a Gimme.

The racecourse, in conjunction with Boots, are raising funds for Macmillan Cancer Support during our meeting tomorrow, with a coffee morning prior to racing starting at 11am.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Busy period for local National winning trainer

Grand National winner, Pineau De Re’s summer holidays have come to an end and he has recently embarked on the long road back to Aintree, starting with plenty of roadwork to build his fitness. The main season target of the 2015 Grand National is 7 months away.

The local hero’s Claines trainer, Richard Newland is enjoying a great run of form in 2014 with his small string. On a recent Fontwell card, where Worcestershire trainers Newland and David Dennis were responsible for 3 winners out of the 7, both Gran Maestro and Vosne Romanee were seen to good effect for Newland. Following a short break in the National Hunt calendar, Gran Maestro has been declared at Worcester for today’s twilight card.

Last week’s meeting at Pitchcroft saw another success for owners Paul and Clare Rooney. Four year old duel French winner, Kitchapoly gave Tony McCoy the second leg of his treble on the day and is just one of 56 horses that the Rooney’s have in training with Grand National winning trainer, Donald McCain. The Rooney’s current string totals 70 horses, with 6 jumpers trained at Bourton on the Water by Nicky Henderson’s former assistant, Ben Pauling, and a further 8 horses running on the flat.

Desert Orchid’s jockey, Colin Brown who won 17 races from 42 rides aboard the popular grey was on hand at Worcester to present a trophy to the owners of Accessallareas.  The horse won the opening race, run to promote what promises to be a highly entertaining charity dinner in the Grandstand after racing on the 9th October, jointly in aid of St Richard’s Hospice and the Injured Jockey’s fund.

Alvechurch trainer, Ian Williams has recently succeeded in his ambition to saddle a winner at every course in Great Britain. The final track Williams needed to conquer was Thirsk in North Yorkshire, where Cruise To The Limit managed to get his nose in front.  The trainer puts his success down to being ideally located in the Midlands and the diversity of the horses he trains.

We would also like to congratulate Worcester’s Senior Veterinary Surgeon, Andrew Harrison, a partner at the Three Counties Equine Hospital near Tewkesbury.  Harrison, who is one of the 4 vets employed to oversee the veterinary care at every Worcester meeting, has just been appointed as President of BEVA, the British Equine Veterinary Association.

The first race today is due off at 3.50pm.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Joy for successful syndicate

If owning a racehorse is your dream, and as for most of us, there is a strict budget, you could do a lot worse than joining a syndicate like the Foxtrot NH Racing Partnership VIII who own Discay, trained at Claines by Richard Newland.

Syndicate ownership often means the horse is leased from the trainer so there is no initial financial outlay required to purchase the horse. An agreed monthly amount is then payable for a fixed term to cover costs including stable fees, farrier, vets, travel to the races, jockey’s riding fees etc. The more members, the lower the monthly cost.

When Discay (pictured below) won at Worcester for the second time in a month last week, we poured over 50 glasses of champagne for the celebrating winning syndicate owners and it was good to see so many happy people sharing in the experience of successful ownership. Most trainers and indeed some racecourses, have opportunities for syndicate owners and it is a route that is well worth exploring if you are interested in getting involved in this aspect of the sport.

A horse with an interesting background caught our eye in the Pitchcroft winner’s enclosure at the same meeting as Discay’s victory. Macarthur, trained in Pembrokeshire by David Rees travelled strongly to win the Class 5 claiming hurdle under a tactical ride by Paul Moloney. The 10 year old’s last win came on the 21st June, 2008 in the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot under the trainer/jockey expertise of Aiden O’Brien and Johnny Murtagh. In May and June of that year, his purple patch also included victory in the Group 3 Ormonde Stakes at Chester and third place in the Coronation Cup at Epsom, behind Soldier of Fortune. To date he has won £202,729 in prize money.

Bumper winner at our last meeting, Dancing Meadows is a horse to watch if she takes up her intended place in the listed mare’s bumper at the Cheltenham Open meeting in November. The filly went through the Doncaster sales ring last week and was snapped up for £38,000 to stay in the yard of trainer, Gordon Elliott.

We all run out of superlatives to describe the amazing achievements of Tony McCoy.  The ‘McCoy factor’ has a very positive effect on attendance figures as well as luck with the bookies wherever he rides. Thanks to a hat-trick of wins last week, his latest milestone is to have ridden 100 winners in just 5 years at Worcester. McCoy’s form figures for the most recent two meetings alone at Worcester read a staggering 1131313F11165. Derek Thompson was on hand on Sunday's meeting to get a few words from McCoy after this magnificent achievement, McCoy's aim, as ever, was "to stay off the ground".

Worcester Racecourse has recently staged its share of the Ice Bucket Challenges currently sweeping the country in aid of Motor Neurone disease, with jockeys Sam Twiston-Davies, Will Kennedy and Andrew Thornton all enjoying a public soaking in the name of charity.

Gates open at 12.10pm for racing at Pitchcroft tomorrow afternoon. First race off at 2.10pm, A.P McCoy has five rides to enhance his already impressive Worcester record.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Easy Double For Byron Blue

It’s very unfortunate to be in a position where you have to buy back a horse that you already own for as much as 13,000 guineas. Hopefully however, Pippa Gillard, owner of promising youngster, Byron Blue (pictured) feels that it was worthwhile to do just that. Byron Blue is a diminutive flat bred gelding by Dylan Thomas and he won a 2 mile 4 furlong selling hurdle at Worcester by 26 lengths at the end of July. Such was the interest in the horse following his impressive victory, that the owner had to go to 13,000 guineas to keep him in the subsequent auction. Tried back over our brush style hurdles over a longer distance of 2 miles and 7 furlongs last week, the horse made short work of the extra distance and won by 21 lengths with plenty in hand from former Worcester winner, Merrion Square, trained by Paul Nicholls.

Alvechurch trainer, Ian Williams had his first success of the summer season at Worcester when Drumlang justified favouritism and beat Martin Keighley’s Kyles’s Faith, also a winner at Worcester back in May. Drumlang was giving plenty of weight away to the second horse and obviously relished the quick ground.

Another recent Pitchcroft success story at the end of July was Panache, who stormed to victory at a price of 100-1 under the female trainer/jockey partnership of Angela Clarke and Jodie Hughes. This was clearly no fluke as the horse continued his current run of good form by winning again at Ffos Las last week, this time returning a price of just 11-1.

Champion jockey, Tony McCoy has recently been chasing a further milestone in an attempt to beat his own record set in 2002 of the fastest 100 winners in a season.  It was touch and go as to whether he would achieve it at Pitchcroft last week, but despite 2 triumphs, it was at Newton Abbot on Thursday that this amazing feat was reached. Of those 100 wins, 18 have been at Worcester since May, during which period McCoy has also been placed second on 9 occasions.

There are signs that autumn is approaching. The evenings seem to be drawing in rapidly as the temperature drops. Some of the stars of the winter National Hunt season are progressing well in their training, having enjoyed the summer sun out in the field. We learnt in the week from Nicky Henderson that his stable stars Sprinter Sacre and Simonsig are doing well back in training, giving us a hint of things to come over the coming months.

Tomorrow is the last of the 9 evening meetings at Worcester this summer and the first race is due off at 4.35pm.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Local Success On The Pershore Plum Festival Racenight

What happens when you mix 19 times champion jockey, Tony McCoy with Prunella, the Pershore Plum Festival mascot, Queen Victoria, the Plum Princess plus her attendants and the Pershore town crier?  The result is a great night out at Worcester Racecourse!

The action on the track rewarded a good sized crowd, sportingly dressed in the colour purple, with a few interesting surprises.

We are hard pressed to remember the last 100-1 winner at Worcester, but that is exactly what we witnessed when the only lady jockey of the night, Jodie Hughes, rode Panache to a memorable victory, giving Angela Clarke her first winner as a permit trainer. Beating the 11/10 favourite, Questioning, under McCoy, Panache has run 7 of his last 10 races at Worcester. The horse’s next race was a much tougher ask at Newton Abbot last week when he ran into 4th place in the novice hurdle.

Local success at the Plum Festival race night came from the Herefordshire yard of Venetia Williams who admitted it was the first time she had been racing since May. Monetary Fund made a winning debut over fences in the beginner’s chase and is now entered for our meeting tomorrow night.

Claines trainer, Richard Newland was on the score sheet at his local track with Discay under Sam Twiston-Davies. The horse looked anything but straight forward to ride, pulling hard and jumping awkwardly but he got the job done and will be better if he relaxes a bit more in his races.

Racing has witnessed a new beginning at nearby Wolverhampton Racecourse in the week when it became the first British course to race on a Tapeta surface. The track has been closed since April to allow the former Polytrack to be dug up and replaced with Tapeta. Reports from jockeys and trainers alike following the opening raceday were very positive and it promises to be a great asset to all-weather racing going forward.

August is traditionally the time of year for a short break in the National Hunt calendar. Leading into this period, there was a notable drop in field sizes with factors contributing to this including the quick ground and the quantity of race meetings. We were therefore pleased to see that 113 horses have been entered for tomorrow’s Ladies Evening and hopefully a good number of those will be declared to run. The vintage themed event is sponsored for the first time by local companies HallmarkHulme Solicitors and Startin Honda & Startin Skoda.

As a final note, we would like to add that we are very pleased to see one of the most personable jockeys in the weighing room return to Worcester this week, following horrific injuries sustained at the Cheltenham Festival. Daryl Jacob, who broke a leg, knee and elbow, had his first ride back at Fontwell last week.

The first race tomorrow evening is due off at 5.10pm.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Quickfire Hat-trick for McCoy

Last week’s Worcester raceday attracted a sell-out Senior Citizen’s crowd, contributing to the busiest afternoon meeting for several years. Seven hundred and fifty elderly people poured in as gates opened, to enjoy racing in the sunshine on the banks of the Severn.

Droitwich based company, Civicare were headline sponsors of this annual event and had 2 named races in which the horses chosen as Best Turned Out both returned victorious to the winner’s enclosure. One of these was the third in a quickfire, one hour, treble for champion jockey, AP McCoy. In the Rough, trained by Jonjo O’Neill, had also won a maiden hurdle at the course back in June.

McCoy’s second win was aboard Donald McCain’s Book Of Excuses, who gave owner Tim Johnson a memorable 24 hours having enjoyed success at Bangor the previous evening. Chesterfield (pictured) was also first past the post under the 19 time champion jockey, having his first run for John Ferguson and he is an interesting recruit to hurdling. A four-year-old former flat horse, the gelding was previously owned by Godolphin and has a win at Newbury under his belt.

An up-and-coming local jockey on the scene is Stan Sheppard, son of Ledbury trainer, Matt and point to point trainer, Nicky. Sheppard had his first outside ride aboard the Matt Sheppard Racing Club’s Iktiview in the concluding hurdle, and came a creditable third.

As the home of summer jumping, we like to keep an eye on Worcester winners going on to further success. Recent examples include Iguacu, trained in Hereford by Richard Price for Malvern owners, Derek and Cheryl Holder, who came out and won again at Stratford last week. Princesse Fleur, trained in Hereford by Michael Scudamore has a Worcester win and 3 seconds on her form sheet and managed to get her nose in front again, also at Stratford. Mr Satco, triumphant first time over fences at Pitchcroft last month for owner/trainer, Donald McCain went on to score in a beginner’s chase at Cartmel. Degooch, also trained by McCain, is a horse to watch, having followed up a recent Worcester win with another at Southwell on Tuesday. Degooch is owned by Paul and Clare Rooney for whom McCain has been busy buying horses all year, including spending 110,000 guineas on a three-year-old gelding by Sea the Stars at the Tattersalls July sales.

The meeting at Worcester tonight is special for 2 reasons. It is the annual Angel Hotel Pershore Plum Festival race evening, which marks the start of the month long, award-winning event in the town. It is also the evening when racing supports its own. We have a unique Grand Racecourse Ticket Draw in aid of Racing Welfare for which all 58 British racecourses have donated tickets as prizes. It is good to see all the courses coming together for the cause and presenter, Derek Thompson will be on hand to assist with proceedings.

The first race on a card which also features the legendary Land O’ Plums Chase, first run at Pershore in the early 1900’s, is due off at 5.50pm.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Spieta changes code to good effect

There was a furore of excitement at Worcester Racecourse last week. Well on the way to his 20th champion jockey title, AP McCoy, who has had more winners at Worcester this season than at any other course, was on a mission. Chasing friend and former trainer, Martin Pipe's record of 4,191 winners, AP only had 2 more to achieve.

A media circus followed him from his home in Lambourn to Uttoxeter for 2 rides, one of which was successful aboard the JP McManus owned, On The Record, and then he flew to Worcester by helicopter which enabled him to ride in races at both courses, just one hour apart.

The enthusiastic Pitchcroft punters willed him to win as he came out for each of his rides. Three Attheraces presenters, Mick Fitzgerald, Luke Harvey and Robert Cooper were on hand for the triumphant interview, should he succeed in his quest.

Unfortunately it wasn't to be that night. His results read 2nd, 3rd, 8th and 4th. Ironically, when it all came down to the last race, it went the way of Weather Babe, trained by Martin Pipe's son, David, beating the 32,000 Euro purchase, Think Out Loud, ridden by McCoy.

Finally, and I am sure much to McCoy’s relief, the target was reached on Saturday at Market Rasen in the £50k feature Summer Plate aboard recent Worcester success, It's A Gimme.

An interesting winner at Worcester last week was Spieta (pictured), victorious in the mare's maiden hurdle. It is the first time I can remember trainer, John Quinn having a runner at the course, and the second time in 2 weeks we have had a winner from Malton in Yorkshire.

Four year old Spieta is a half sister to the useful hurdler Big Eared Fran and was previously 0-10 on the flat for Luca Cumani. Often a change of scene and training regime can bring out the best in a horse and 7 weeks with John Quinn seems to have put Spieta in the right direction.

Trainer Don Cantillon's duel listed-winning, one-eyed mare, As I Am has given us several champagne moments at Worcester over the past year, winning three times. Sadly her run in June at the course was her last as also owner/breeder, Cantillon has decided to retire her to the paddocks following an injury. The six year old's 21 career runs included 8 wins, with decent victories also at Newbury and Cheltenham last winter.

The first race today is due off at 2.10pm, gates open at 12.10pm and there are fantastic packages available to the over 65's on this, our annual Senior Citizens' Raceday.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Money Doesn't Always Buy Success

It’s not the first time I have highlighted the fact that money doesn’t always buy you success when it comes to racehorses. This was further evident in the National Hunt flat race at Pitchcroft last week and offers encouragement to all of us enthusiastic owners on a strict budget.

Favourite to win the race, having never set foot on a racecourse before at the age of 4, with the star jockey booking of Tony McCoy and a trainer (John Ferguson) who has a 29% strike rate in this type of race, Shamal, who cost 160,000 guineas as a yearling had all the right credentials for a big racing debut. Unfortunately the gelding was beaten 15 lengths into 5th place behind the winner, Probably Sorry, who had travelled 173 miles down from Tony Coyle’s yard in Norton and only cost £1,800 in the sales last summer.

One of the most popular men in the weighing room returned to the winner’s enclosure at Worcester after a 2 month spell on the sidelines with facial injuries following a fall at Fakenham in May. Noel Fehily was delighted to get back on the score sheet for trainer Charlie Longsdon when steering Pure Style to victory in the Handicap Hurdle.

One of the most popular men in the weighing room of days gone by sadly passed away last week, just three days after his wife also died. Legendary Herefordshire jockey and trainer, Michael Scudamore, himself the son of a point to point trainer, was father to 8 times champion jockey, Peter, and grandfather to David Pipe’s stable jockey, Tom, as well as to Michael, who trains at Ross on Wye where his Grandfather was born in 1932.

At the Worcester meeting last week, there was a minute’s silence before the jockeys mounted for the first race, to remember the man who won the Grand National in 1959 on Oxo, who won the Cheltenham Gold Cup on 1957 on Linwell and who rode 496 winners before a career ending fall in 1966, when Snakestone slipped up at Wolverhampton, permanently damaging Scudamore’s left eye. His career in racing continued as a trainer from 1967 when victories included the 1970 Grand Annual chase and the 1974 Mackeson Gold Cup.

Appropriately, the success of the Scudamore dynasty was highlighted on the same card at Worcester last week when Tom rode promising recruit from the flat, Conducting, to win the selling hurdle. The horse was bought in the subsequent auction for 9,000 guineas by Gloucestershire trainer, David Bridgewater.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

The Man Of Steel Goes Full Throttle For Victory

The story of the day at Worcester last week revolved around the course's current leading jockey, AP McCoy and 3 horses under the guidance of our leading trainer, Jonjo O'Neill.

Things started well with a winner in the bumper. Costing £20,000 as a three year old in 2013, Ozzy Thomas runs in the same colours as John's Spirit who won last year's Cheltenham Paddy Power Gold Cup.

In the subsequent feature handicap hurdle, McCoy partnered the O'Neill trained favourite, Flemenson. Approaching the second last in the lead with every chance, the horse never took off and nose dived over the obstacle, firing McCoy into the ground and putting him unavoidably in the path of the horses following over the hurdle.

Thankfully, Flemenson, who was momentarily winded was soon up on his feet and McCoy limped back to the weighing room clutching ice to his chest. In obvious pain but ever the professional, he paused to sign a fan’s autograph in the pre parade ring.

Racegoers held their breath to see if McCoy would emerge out of the weighing room to take his place aboard the Jackie O'Neill owned, Full Throttle in the next race. Ride again he did and described by the19 times champion jockey as a 'steering job', Full Throttle (pictured) duly obliged and came home clear of second placed, Man of Steel, trained by Peter Bowen.

Grimacing as he was led back into the parade ring, it was clear for all to see that McCoy was in considerable discomfort. He struggled to dismount the horse, confirming he was standing down for the day. Barely able to raise his arms to lift off the saddle, and despite his obvious pain, he still posed for photographs at the horse's head and stopped to give an interview to attheraces front man, Luke Harvey.

The irony is that although Full Throttle beat Man of Steel in the race, reversing the result when the two horses met at Uttoxeter in a bumper last year, the man of steel, which undoubtedly gives him the edge over his rivals on a daily basis, is McCoy.

Other results from the meeting saw wins for trainers presently in good form including Lambourn based Warren Greatrex, and Richard Phillips who trains at Moreton in the Marsh.

Jeremy Scott and jockey, Nick Schofield enjoyed a double on the card, including Moorlands Jack who also won a race at Worcester last September.

In further news relating to Worcester winners, The Romford Pele, trained by Rebecca Curtis, who was successful at our recent Ladies Day meeting in the Valerie Lewis Memorial Chase, followed up in the listed class 1 John Smiths Summer Cup at Uttoxeter under Paul Carberry, earning decent prize money of £34,000 for connections. He still heads for the Galway plate.

Stratford's meeting on Tuesday saw Bob Keown, on whom McCoy won his 50th winner of the season recently at Worcester, and who is in the same ownership as The Romford Pele, beat evens favourite, Mister Dillon who also won at Worcester in May.

Tomorrow sees evening racing at Pitchcroft with the first race due off at 6.10pm.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Big plans ahead for the feature hurdle victor

Weeks don’t come much busier than the last one at Worcester Racecourse.  Two race meetings in 4 days were quickly followed by the West Midlands Area Point to Point annual awards dinner.

Racing highlights included the feature hurdle of the season which was the £18,500 Totepool sponsored handicap hurdle. The 14 horses who lined up for a race worthy of its billing include the one-eyed mare, As I Am, who won 3 races at Worcester last summer before going on to success in a listed mares’ races at Newbury and Cheltenham over the winter. Claines trained Bobowen, winner of the 2013 Market Rasen Summer Plate also took his chance in the race.

The eventual result of an exciting finish was a 1-2 for Irish owner, JP McManus with his second string horse, Vulcanite (pictured in the green far side below) defying top weight to beat the AP McCoy ridden, Join The Clan. Vulcanite now heads for the Galway Hurdle.
Hereford trainer, Richard Price enjoyed a winner for Worcester based owners, Derek and Cheryl Holder.  Iguacu shed his maiden tag over jumps going one better than his recent Uttoxeter run. Price formerly trained Flaky Dove to win the 1994 Smurfit Champion Hurdle, a horse who also ran at Worcester back in 1991.
Wolverhampton racecourse is currently having a new Tapeta all weather surface laid on its track and legendary trainer, Michael Dickinson who is currently overseeing this operation, was spotted enjoying a busman’s holiday at the Worcester family raceday. Dickinson is famous for not only training 2 Cheltenham Gold Cup winners, Silver Buck and Bregawn, but also for being the only person in history to train the first five home in a Gold Cup in 1983.
Mike Hammond who trains at Abberley had a rare Worcester winner ridden by Denis O’Regan.  Provincial Pride staged a rally having been booked for fourth place over the last hurdle.  The horse was formerly trained in Ireland by James Joseph Mangan, trainer of the 2003 Grand National Winner, Monty’s Pass.
The West Midlands Area includes 12 hunts, all of whom run annual Point to Points. The season which started last December and ended in June culminated in the annual awards dinner at the Racecourse on Saturday.
It was a good night for trainer/amateur jockey, Tom Weston. Weston picked up accolades for the leading Area point to point trainer, for leading horse with Soutine and finished runner up to Mark Wall for the top gentleman rider honours.
Racing resumes at Pitchcroft tomorrow when gates open at 12.20pm.

Friday, 20 June 2014

A Royal Winner on Ladies Day

‘Flaming June’ has different connotations. This was especially apparent during the recent Edwards Motors Ladies Day at Worcester Racecourse which dawned to the sound of roaring thunder with flash floods. Thankfully this gave way to glorious sunshine for an afternoon attended by 8,654 racegoers.

Ladies Day usually coincides with the Derby meeting at Epsom, a day always enjoyed by the Queen.  This year, Her Majesty’s only runner of the day, Special Agent, was not at Epsom but was declared for the MPinches Transport sponsored bumper at Worcester, just 25 minutes ahead of the Derby.

Jockey David Bass confirmed the Queen would be watching a recording of the Worcester race in the Royal Box. The gelding had been a non-runner at our previous meeting due to the softened ground but this time conditions suited and he stayed on well to beat Bobble Emerald. The future beholds well for Special Agent, trained by Nicky Henderson, who won the same bumper with smart hurdler, Mossley four years ago.
Local Cropthorne trainer, Tony Carroll had a great afternoon with an across the card double at Epsom and Worcester within 15 minutes. Great Link won the John Burke Memorial chase on the Ladies Day card.

Burke was former stable jockey to Kinnersley trainer, Fred Rimell and in 1976 became the fifth jockey in history to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Grand National in the same year on Royal Frolic and Rag Trade.

Best Mate’s owner, Jim Lewis who turned 80 this week, made the annual trip to Worcester to support St Richard’s Hospice and the memorial handicap chase in honour of his wife, Valerie.

This year the race was won by The Romford Pele who came third in a novice chase at the Punchestown Festival in May and is now bound for the Galway Plate.

The Worcester evening meeting last week will go down in history as the night that 19 times champion jockey, Tony McCoy beat his own record which had stood for 10 years, when he rode the fastest ever 50th winner in one season. Coincidentally, the horse on which he achieved this milestone was Bob Keown who, like the Romford Pele is trained by Rebecca Curtis and runs in the same colours.

Claines trainer, Richard Newland gets the right tune out of just about every horse he trains these days. Neverownup won his fourth race in 3 weeks at Newton Abbott, the first of which was at Worcester.  Slim Pickens followed up his recent Southwell win just 7 days later at Worcester and Master of Deception added to Newland’s success at Aintree last weekend.

The Racecourse stand at the Malvern Three Counties Show was buzzing for three days over the weekend. For the first time, we took an equiciser training horse which attracted the attention of a multitude of budding jockeys, all keen to experience riding ‘jockey style’.

The same equiciser will be part of the numerous free attractions on offer at the Family Fun raceday at Pitchcroft this Sunday when the gates open at 12.20pm.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Rain not an issue for the Henderson runner

The unpredictability of the British weather struck again last week. Over 2 inches of rain fell at Pitchcroft during the 7 days between race meetings resulting in the ground riding soft but thankfully safe.

Rain softened ground did not suit all 3 horses that Nicky Henderson declared for the Worcester News sponsored bumper. On the morning of racing, the decision was taken that flat bred, Special Agent, owned by the Queen would not appreciate the conditions and the gelding was withdrawn. 

Henderson left Profit Commission in the race, a 33,000 Euro purchase by Presenting, but it was his second string horse, Leaderofthedance (pictured) who came out on top of the battle for victory with Bobble Emerald, owned by Arena Racing Company Chairman, David Thorpe.

Leaderofthedance was bred by his owner, Tom Whitley who also raced the horse’s grand dam, Garrylough to victory 7 times in the 1990’s when trained by David Gandolfo.

Accompanying the Henderson runners was new assistant trainer, Patrick Harty, grandson of Grand National winning jockey, Eddie Harty and son of the Curragh based trainer of Captain Cee Bee of the same name.

Harty is following the footsteps of previous Henderson protégées such as Charlie Longsdon, Tom Symonds and Ben Pauling, and came also to Worcester last week to meet up with his Abberley based workplace mentor, Liz Juckes.

Juckes, daughter-in-law of ex Worcestershire trainer, Rod Juckes, was at the racecourse in her capacity as workplace co-ordinator for the British Racing School in Newmarket.  Juckes mentors 40 ex students of the Racing School including rising star Oisin Murphy, currently riding for Andrew Balding on the flat.

It is always good to hear of the success of Worcestershire trainers and Tony Carroll from Cropthorne certainly had something to celebrate recently.

Carroll has trained Ocean Legend since 2010 and at Brighton last week, the horse won the 100th race he has run in. It is rare, and therefore a great achievement to keep a horse sound for that number of races.

Ninety-four year old former Kinnersley trainer, Mercy Rimell had success in the week at Brightwell’s Horses in Training sales at Cheltenham. Super Sam went under the hammer to Herefordshire trainer, Venetia Williams for £31,000. The gelding is out of Gaye Sophie, also bred by Rimell, who is related to her 1983 Champion Hurdle winner, Gaye Brief.

Champion jockey, Tony McCoy has had a great start to the new season with 40 wins from 112 rides in May earning him an amazing strike rate of 37%. McCoy, who recently turned 40 appears in no mood to slow down and indeed following his rides at Worcester last week, left by helicopter for 3 further rides at the evening meeting at Wetherby in Yorkshire, one of which was a winning one.

Tomorrow sees the feature raceday of the season at Worcester. A large crowd is expected for Edwards Motors Ladies Day when the annual St Richard’s Hospice Valerie Lewis Memorial chase will be the main race of the day.

Due to the anticipated extra traffic, the gates open at 11.30am with the first race due off at 1.55pm.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

A Tale Of Three Firsts

It was a tale of three ‘firsts’ in the final race at Pitchcroft last week. Neverownup was sent off the 3/1 favourite and was having his first run for Grand National winning Claines trainer, Richard Newland in the concluding handicap hurdle. The horse had been claimed out of a Fakenham selling race in April. The victory was the first for Newland at his local course this summer and it was also Neverownup’s first win under rules, having had decent place form in the past including at Worcester in 2013.

Newland plans to keep the 9 year old on the go, and indeed he followed up the Worcester win with an easy victory over fences at Fontwell on Sunday, and then a 12 length victory over fences again at Hexham yesterday evening.

It was the strongest running of the annual Hargreave Hale Stockbrokers Hunter Chase for some time. The winner, Lake Legend, was making his debut in this grade of race, having notched up 6 point to point wins over the past 2 seasons. Formerly trained by Alan King, the horse has also previously won 6 races under rules.

Lake Legend’s owner, Jerry Wright, who is recovering from a triple heart bypass operation recalled that his first ever winner was at Worcester with a horse called What’s the Crack, who was victorious on Wright’s birthday back in 1987 when trained by Henrietta Knight.

Recently crowned champion trainer, Paul Nicholls had a productive day. Fresh from selling 10 horses at Doncaster sales, he stopped in at Worcester on his way back to Ditcheat and was rewarded with a quick double. Nick Schofield rode both winners. The first was in the national hunt novice hurdle aboard Sergeant Thunder who redeemed himself after a fall at Wincanton 2 weeks previously. The second was in the Novice Hurdle on Merrion Square who had lost his way over fences and will benefit from a confidence boosting win over Worcester’s French style hurdles.

Nicholls was very complimentary about the Pitchcroft ground and confirmed he will be running more of his summer jumpers at the course in the weeks to come.

A feature of the night was the presentation by the Davis family of the Richard Davis award to the leading conditional jockey accumulating points at Worcester, Cheltenham, Stratford, Ludlow, Warwick, Chepstow and Towcester racecourses. The award commemorates the late Richard Davis, the young and talented jump jockey from Flyford Flavel who lost his life in a fall over fences at Southwell in 1996.

Previous well-known winners of the award include Sam Twiston-Davies, Aidan Coleman, Robert Thornton, Timmy Murphy and Joe Tizzard. This year the trophy went to Gavin Shehan who went on to win the Ladbrokes sponsored bumper immediately following the presentation.

The 2014 Worcester trainer’s championship has just been launched by Connolly’s Red Mills and will run through the season with the winning trainer receiving 2 tonnes of horse feed. The 2013 leading trainer was Jonjo O’Neill and the previous year, it was Paul Nicholls who took the honours.

The gates open for afternoon racing tomorrow at 12.10pm.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Rejuvenated Fade To Grey Puts In Bold Performance

There could not have been more relieved and indeed happy owners at Pitchcroft last week than the Worcester Racing Club syndicate. Their 10 year old Fade To Grey (pictured), who is blind in his left eye, was a former course winner in 2011 when his score sheet included two firsts and two second places. In 2012, the horse suffered a near career-ending injury at Newton Abbott and has been nursed back to the racecourse by Cheltenham based trainer, Sean Lycett.

The horse has had three runs on the flat this year before being tried back over hurdles at Worcester’s first May meeting.  The plan went wrong that day and he missed the start, pulling up shortly afterwards. Declared to run in the feature hurdle last week, not only did he redeem himself, but put in a brave performance to be beaten by just two and a half lengths.

The winner, First Avenue is owned and trained in Epsom by Laura Mongan and had previously sprung a surprise win in the listed Paddy Power Imperial Cup at Sandown last March.

The runner up was also an interesting contender. For Two, trained by Paul Nicholls and ridden by his newly appointed stable jockey Sam Twiston-Davies, is owned by Andrea and Graham Wylie. The five year old won a newcomers race at Auteuil in 2012 and has been placed in 5 of his 6 starts for Nicholls.

Life at Jackdaw’s Castle under trainer Jonjo O’Neill must suit the winner of the 2 mile 7 furlong handicap chase. Playing the Field, who won very readily with 13 lengths to spare, had been at the yard for just 3 weeks. Owner, Sarah Hall-Tinker said she had recently been introduced to O’Neill by close friend and former Grand National winning jockey, Bob Champion.

Bumpers can throw up some interesting results and last week was no exception. The race looked to be at the mercy of the O’Neill trained Magheral Express, to give Tony McCoy a swift double on the card. The horse who changed hands for £50,000 last year looked to be the winner up the home straight, but under a ride described as ‘unbelievable’ by trainer, David Pipe, he was caught on the line by All Force Majeure, himself a 48,000 euro purchase as a three year old.

Pipe, who has hit the ground running at the start of the new National Hunt season and currently leads the jumps trainer’s table with a strike rate of 41% winners to runners, went into the meeting with 9 wins in the first 13 days of May.

Twenty six horses appeared in the six day entry stage for the annual Hunter Chase which is the first race on the card at Worcester tomorrow evening. The race is specifically aimed at the 13 hunts which make up the West Midlands area. Included in list was Vincitore who has won twice at Worcester in the past, including the Fred Rimmel Memorial Novice Chase in 2011 when formerly trained by Charlie Longsdon.

The first race tomorrow is due off at 5.40pm.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Got Attitude shows his youngster rivals a clean pair of heels

Six months of planning and preparation came to fruition at Pitchcroft last Wednesday, when 9 horses came under starter’s orders for the opening 2014 handicap chase of the summer season.

Lemon’s Gent, owned and bred by Pink Floyd band member, Roger Waters relished the quick ground and stayed on strongly to beat Capisci, trained in Leominster by Sarah-Jayne Davies. Lemon’s Gent’s dam, Lemon’s Mill won 9 races under rules when trained by Martin Pipe and ran her last ever race at Worcester on 29th June 1996 before being retired to stud.  Her regular jockey, now a successful trainer, was David Bridgewater.

The 2 mile 4 furlong handicap chase went the way of Cropthorne trainer, Tony Carroll and stable jockey, Lee Edwards. Got Attitude (pictured) was the oldest horse in the race at 11 and was having only his second run at Worcester when taking advantage of a drop in the handicap rating from a former career high of 135 to just 89. Looking back over his form, it is interesting to find a race in October 2011 run at Thurles in Ireland when Got Attitude came 3rd behind last month’s local Grand National winner, Pineau De Re.

Hanbury breeder, Robert Chugg had two home bred mares running in the maiden hurdle. Supreme Present, in whom Chugg still has a third share, stamped her bumper form and won by three quarters of a length for trainer Kim Bailey.

The first ever Hobby Horse race to be run at Pitchcroft was in aid of Muscular Dystrophy.  The 10 runners sprinted over the final half furlong of the track to enthusiastic public applause and raised over £1,000 for the charity from their efforts.

The 2014 Horse Power list that appears in the June edition of Tatler magazine shows owner JP McManus, who regularly runs horses at Worcester, at the top of the jumps list. Tony McCoy, who last week celebrated his 40th birthday and who also rode a double at Worcester appears at number two.

McManus was recently crowned leading jumps owner in Britain as well as in his native Ireland, although the latter contest went right to the wire at the Punchestown Festival with Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown Stud operation. Victories in the British and Irish Champion Hurdles (with Jezki) as well as the Irish Grand National (with Shutthefrontdoor) were highlights that contributed to the title for McManus.

With the point to point season drawing to a close at the end of the month, the Wheatland held their annual meeting at Chaddesley Corbett on Sunday, and we still have the Clifton on Teme hunt at Upper Sapey, the North Hereford hunt fixture which this year takes place at Hereford Racecourse, and the Albrighton & Woodland meeting at Chaddesley Corbett to look forward to over the next two weekends.

The Worcester meeting next week will include the annual Hargreave Hale Stockbroker’s Hunter’s Chase for horses who have competed in the West Midlands area point to points over the past few months. In the meantime, all is set for afternoon racing at Worcester today when gates open at 12.05pm.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

We're Back!

Two significant memories stand out from the winter of 2014 at Worcester Racecourse.  The first is the angry floods which drowned the course for days on end, and the second has to be the spectacular display by local horse, Pineau De Re to win the Crabbies Grand National.

The January and February floods, accompanied by savage storms were responsible for ripping up the running rail, washing away tarmac and decking, the loss of 2 very rare Indian Bean trees, and water levels which left a 5 foot tide line inside the Owners and Trainers bar.  It was nature at its worst.

More encouragingly, when the waters finally receded, the grass picked up rapidly and the kinder warmth of the March sunshine helped to restore the track to somewhere near normality in a relatively short space of time.

The Grand National was a phenomenal success for Claines trainer, Richard Newland.  Speaking to his assistant trainer, Rod Trow at the yard the day before the big race, he said that Pineau De Re had come out of his Cheltenham race well, but that he was a little apprehensive of how the horse would take to the pomp and ceremony of the Aintree occasion.

We were delighted for the Newland team who regularly have runners at Pitchcroft and indeed plan to parade their stable star at a Worcester meeting in the near future.

There were three former Worcester runners in the Grand National this year.  Balthazar King, who won his chasing debut with us and finished a very creditable runner up, Lost Glory who finished the race but was unplaced, and the somewhat disgraced Battle Group who refused to start, denying Brendan Powell junior his first ride in the race.

The recent annual Worcestershire Hunt point to point at Chaddesley Corbett was a huge success which only goes to underline the level of support for horse racing in this county.Over 5,000 people packed the track on the sunny Easter Saturday afternoon at which Worcester Racecourse sponsored the opening hunt members’ race.  This was won by amateur jockey turned point to point trainer, Tom Weston from Hindlip, aboard Cold Knight.  Coincidentally, Weston also won the first race of the new season at Pitchcroft last year on Mount Welcome, trained by his father, Martin.

In the month when Paul Nicholls regained the champion trainer title from Nicky Henderson, Nicholls was present to watch his daughter, Megan win the Ladies Open race on Gwanako at Chaddesley.  The trainer had nothing but praise for the track and said it had been several years since he had last been there.

With 22 fixtures stretching ahead until the end of October, it will be interesting to see if Jonjo O’Neill can regain his 2013 Worcester trainer’s title, and if Ladies day on the Saturday 7 June can bring in another record crowd this year. There is so much to look forward to as we put the wet and windy winter months firmly behind us and return with gusto to the business of racing.

Racing resumes at Pitchcroft this evening, when the first race is due off at 5.30pm. For more information, visit our website, www.worcester-racecourse.co.uk.

Friday, 28 March 2014

The Home of Summer Jumps Racing

It's another lovely sunny day in Worcester, currently 10 degrees, and the weekend looks very nice too, with highs expected of up to 17 degrees! The return of this lovely spring weather only signals one thing for the racecourse though, the imminent return of thrilling National Hunt action at the home of summer jumps racing. With the track now acting good to firm in places, even after a few weeks in January and February of heavy flooding, we can feel the 2014 season drawing close.

We're back in 5 weeks, 5 days, 5 hours and 5 minutes (at the time of typing) for an evening meeting to kick-off the season. In the meantime, National Hunt fans, and much of the country, have the most prestigious race to look forward to and enjoy. The Grand National takes place next Saturday, and for all you Worcester racegoers looking through the field for previous Worcester runners, there are 9 to keep your eye on at present in the remaining 73 entries. To save you sifting through all 73 for a spot of Worcester form, here they are (in weight order for the National):
  • Balthazar King; 1 Worcester run, 1 victory, which was also his chasing debut.
  • Battle Group; quirky type who finished 2nd by 5 lengths on his only Worcester start.
  • Twirling Magnet; a mixed Worcester career, with a victory on his racing debut, however also a fall to his name.
  • Lost Glory; 4th in our historic Land O'Plums Chase (which takes place every year on our Pershore Plum Festival Racenight card).
  • Swing Bill (pictured); another mixed Worcester career, with a narrow defeat in a Class 3, but pulled up on his only other run.
  • Standing Ovation; a poor showing in a Class 4 in 2013, last of 5, but turned a corner since then winning a Class 1 at Wincanton by 5 lengths.
  • Any Currency; 2nd in a Class 3 nearly 5 years ago and the final finisher (17th) of last year's Grand National.
  • Storm Survivor; a distance 3rd in a Class 3 last year.
  • Victrix Gale; finished half a length second on her racing debut.

We'll hopefully be cheering on a finish like they had in Glenfarclas Cross Country at the Cheltenham Festival this year, when Worcester winner, Balthazar King, beat Worcester runner-up, Any Currency, by a short head, having just tackled four miles.

We're looking forward to hosting many more potential big race winners this season, to catch all of the action why not try our annual membership, or book one of our fantastic raceday packages in advance, like the brand new Pukka Package, and save yourself £££'s.

For all information on the season, check out our website www.worcester-racecourse.co.uk or call us on 01905 25364.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

3 Weeks To Go

Three weeks today the gates will be open and the crowds pouring in to the magnificent Cheltenham Racecourse for the highlight of the jumps calendar. Four fantastic days of National Hunt racing then lie ahead at this historic event, littered with group 1 action.

We'll be keeping a keen eye on previous winners here to see how they fare on the biggest stage, including likely Gold Cup entrants; The Giant Bolster and Houblon Des Obeaux, trained by David Bridgwater and Venetia Williams respectively. No stranger to top class company and 4th in our class 2 feature race in 2013, Astracad has an entry in to the Queen Mother Champion Chase for the Twiston-Davies pair, Nigel & Sam.

In other big National Hunt racing news we've also seen 115 entrants put forward for the 40 runner maximum Crabbie's Grand National on Saturday 5 April. In the interests of the racecourse team here will be 15th place finisher in 2013, Balthazar King, who has since won three of his four races. The Philip Hobbs trained 10 year old won here back in September of 2010.

As the weather improves and the days get longer we draw ever closer to our season opener on the evening of Wednesday 7 May. At the home of summer jumps we're staging 22 fixtures this year, maybe unearthing another Cheltenham star in the process. Seven fantastic feature racedays are on the 2014 lineup with the first not too far away on Saturday 7 June, the immensely popular Edwards Motors Ladies Day.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Strictly Worcestershire

On Thursday 22 May, eight couples from top Worcestershire businesses will be taking to the stage at the Chateau Impney, Droitwich to dance for the coveted title of Strictly Worcestershire winners, 2014! The evening promises to be full of glitz and glamour and will be in aid of the Worcestershire Breast Unit Campaign and Ladies Fighting Breast Cancer. It is sure to be THE ‘must be seen at’ event for businesses in the Worcester area.

Worcester Racecourse Business Executive, Laura Gurney (pictured below, right) has put her best foot forward and signed up for the dancing challenge alongside best friend of 7 years, Emma –Louise Vale (pictured, left) of Vales Dance and Theatre Academy. Laura commented: ‘Everybody knows somebody affected by breast cancer and having had some performance experience before joining the Racecourse, as soon as I heard about the event, I wanted to get involved.’

Organiser and Producer of Strictly Worcester, Gerard Smith of leading Worcestershire estate agents, Andrew Grant LLP will be ensuring live event updates are regularly available on social media. This promises to be a spectacular event in May. Further details can be found on www.strictlyworcestershire.co.uk and across social media (@Strictlyworcs on Twitter & 'Strictly Worcestershire' on Facebook).

More updateson Laura’s progress as she prepares to represent Worcester Racecourse at this prestigious event will follow soon!

Friday, 10 January 2014

The Year of the Horse

Happy new year to all of you readers! As you may or may not know 2014 is the Chinese Year of the Horse and we plan on celebrating this throughout our fantastic summer jumps season. To kick off the celebrations, only a couple of weeks away from the turn of the Chinese New Year, we are offering the most amazing prize for our social media #yearofthehorse competition.

The competition can be entered on our Twitter page or via our Facebook page. We just want to know what your New Year's Resolutions are, then re-tweet our #yearofthehorse competition message or share our Facebook competition status and that's all you have to do to enter the competition.

THE PRIZE - The winner will receive 2014 annual membership to Worcester Racecourse, worth £220! This includes:
  • County Enclosure admission to all 22 fixtures
  • A cup of tea/coffee at all fixtures
  • Half price entry to Worcestershire County Cricket matches
  • Entry to Hall Green Greyhound Stadium plus a guest on all fixture except Boxing Day
  • A plethora of ARC benefits, including entry to all other 14 courses on most racedays.
The competition closes on Friday 17 January at midday, for all competition information please visit our competition Facebook status, Terms and Conditions apply.