For the first time we welcomed members of the British Horse Society to the Racecourse last week. The day was intended to help fundraise for the very important equine welfare work undertaken annually by the charity, and also to raise awareness of their safety campaign requesting drivers to pass horses ‘wide and slow’ and to kill their speed to 15 mph. This campaign has been sparked by a number of fatal accidents on British roads in recent years.
Two of the supporters of the day included first time Worcester race sponsors, Henry Oliver Racing and Hillgrove Stud, both of whom depend on horses for their living. Hillgrove Stud is based near Droitwich, and Liz Williams with her partner Max Young, breed and produce top quality dressage horses. Henry Oliver, former national hunt jockey turned trainer, is based at Abberley and runs a number of his horses at Worcester during the season. The British Horse Society reported that they raised over £1,500 through the generous donations of racegoers for which they were extremely grateful.
The opening race of the day, the Henry Oliver Racing Novice Chase was a very competitive affair, and included representatives from the top yards of Paul Nicholls, David Pipe, Donald McCain, Jonjo O’Neill and Phillip Hobbs.
McCain’s Dr Massini gelding, What Happens Now (pictured above) was confidently steered to victory by Will Kennedy, seeing off the challenges of Tom Scudamore aboard David Pipe’s For ‘N’ Against by three quarters of a length. Kennedy, who began his association with McCain last season, has a 21% strike rate when riding for the Cheshire based trainer. What Happens Now, a former point to point winner, has won three of his four starts over fences and it would be no surprise to see him progress on from here, especially once the ground eases later in the year.
The race date last week clashed with a Stratford evening meeting. Whilst the short hop from one course to another was ideal for the jockeys who were riding at both Worcester and Stratford, it is far from ideal to have two racecourses in such close proximity racing on the same day from a logistical point of view. Not only does it split a local crowd of jump racing supporters, but there are also a good number of staff who make their living by working at several racecourses and they have to make difficult decisions when there is a clash.
The only clash at the vintage themed Ladies Evening race meeting tomorrow evening at Worcester, will be the sound of the instruments of the 28 strong members of the Royal Signals Band who will be welcoming racegoers from 3.30pm as they arrive at the course, as part of the Help for Heroes race night. The first race is due off at 5pm.