Wetherby welcomes in the new Jump season with its annual Spinal Research Northern Raceday on Wednesday, October 17.
Now in its 28th year, Wetherby's Spinal Research Northern Raceday has raised over £600,000 since its inception and organisers expect to generate another £35,000 this year. The raceday will also benefit from Sue Jefferson of Possibilities Realised Ltd sponsoring the opening Sue Jefferson Realise Possibilities Juvenile Hurdle in support of the charity. Sue is also a novelist who is the author of Boardroom Ready Women & co-author of The Authorities - Gender Balance and Win!
Spinal Research is the UK's leading charity funding medical research around the world to develop effective treatments for paralysis caused by spinal cord injury. Every year, 1,000 people in the UK and Ireland are paralysed following an injury to their spinal cord.
Racegoers can support Spinal Research by joining them in their exclusive hospitality marquee, located adjacent to the parade ring and winner's enclosure, which includes a drinks reception and three-course luncheon followed by a charity auction and raffle.
Tickets for the hospitality marquee are available at www.wetherbyracing.co.uk
Last year's Spinal Research Northern Raceday marked the opening of Wetherby's grandstand redevelopment. Construction started during the summer of 2016 and was completed on time in 2017 at a cost of £3.5 million. Nick Rust, Chief Executive of the British Horseracing Authority, was on hand to open the Millennium West grandstand.
The new three-storey grandstand has been warmly received by racegoers who have praised the redevelopment which has helped improve the raceday experience for the public, owners and trainers alike. The enthusiastic reception for the new grandstand has earned Wetherby Racecourse a nomination in Owners' Experience category at the 2018 Racecourse Association Showcase & Awards, which are due to be presented at Aintree Racecourse on November 8.
Ahead of this season, Wetherby has spent in excess of £150,000 with further upgrades and refurbishment. This includes the installation of £50,000 worth of new drainage to the racecourse. Furthermore, the racecourse has upgraded many of the internal roads and car parks as well as refurbishing the carpet in the Bramham Hall.
Wetherby also has a new sponsor for the top trainer and jockey awards this season, with Millbry Hill Country Store sponsoring the accolades. Millbry Hill is the UK's leading independent family-run country store. Based in Richmond, North Yorkshire, Millbry Hill provides equestrian supplies, pet products, country clothing, gifts and accessories.
The track will also be operating two new William Hill on course betting shops for the first time.
Tickets are selling fast for the two-day bet365 Meeting at Wetherby on Friday and Saturday, November 2 and 3. Racegoers are advised to book tickets as soon as possible by visiting www.wetherbyracing.co.uk
Saturday, November 3 features Wetherby's best race of the season, the £100,000 G2 bet365 Charlie Hall Chase. The three-mile contest boats an outstanding roll of honour with Wayward Lad, Burrough Hill Lad, Forgive 'n Forget, One Man and See More Business all featuring on the roll of honour. Last year's renewal saw trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies saddle a record fifth winner of the race as Bristol De Mai saw off his stablemate Blaklion by half a length.
Twiston-Davies pondering Wetherby outing for Ballyandy
Headline names on the track on Wednesday, October 17, could include Ballyandy (Nigel Twiston-Davies), who is one of 14 entries for the feature £12,600 Bobby Renton Handicap Chase (3.45pm) over just shy of two and a half miles.
Ballyandy made a successful start to his chasing career at Perth last autumn but failed to fire in two subsequent starts, most recently when pulled up behind Mister Whitaker at Cheltenham in January.
The seven-year-old landed the prestigious G3 Betfair Hurdle at Newbury in 2017 and is also a winner at the Cheltenham Festival, having captured the G1 Weatherbys Champion Bumper in 2016.
Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies said today: "Ballyandy is in really good form and we would like to run at Wetherby next week if we can.
"We would like to see good jumping ground. There is a bit of rain about so hopefully the ground will be fine.
"We will see how he gets on but the BetVictor Gold Cup could be a possibility afterwards."
Twiston-Davies used Wetherby as the starting point for last year's BetVictor Gold Cup winner Splash Of Ginge. The Gloucestershire-based trainer is in fine form at present, with seven winners in the last fortnight and boasts a 20 per cent strike rate with his runners at Wetherby.
Champion owner JP McManus has two possible starters in Bouvreuil and Demi Sang, both of whom have joined Middleham trainer Ben Haslam from Paul Nicholls and Willie Mullins respectively.
Happy Diva (Kerry Lee), the only mare among the entries, was a model of consistency last season, winning at Ludlow, Bangor and Ascot, as well as finishing second in Listed contests at Newbury and Huntingdon. Stablemate Town Parks, successful at Hereford in January, is also engaged.
Cultivator (Nicky Henderson) has race fitness on his side after gaining his first victory over fences in a beginners' chase at Worcester on September 17. The same can be said about Jovial Joey (Maurice Barnes) who finished second behind Exitas in a handicap chase at Market Rasen on September 29.
Others to note include the lightly-raced Willie Boy (Charlie Longsdon) and Katachenko (Donald McCain), who enjoyed his biggest victory when taking the G3 Red Rum Handicap Chase at Aintree's Grand National Festival in 2016.
Elsewhere on the card, talented hurdlers Tommy Rapper (Dan Skelton) and Lough Derg Spirit (Nicky Henderson) could meet in the Bet At racinguk.com Novices' Chase (2.45pm, 15 entries) over the same distance.
The two with chasing experience among the entries are Cultivator and El Terremoto (Nigel Twiston-Davies), who held every chance when falling at the penultimate fence at Perth on September 27.
Runaway North Yorkshire Grand National victor I Just Know (Sue Smith) could reappear in the Sixt Rent A Car Ride Smug Novices' Hurdle (3.15pm, 20 entries). I Just Know was well-fancied for the Randox Health Grand National on his latest start in April but fell when leading at Becher's Brook on the first circuit.
The going at Wetherby is currently: Good to Firm, Good in places
Rain is forecast for Friday (October 12), Saturday (October 13) and Tuesday (October 16), with dry and sunny conditions on the other days. Strong winds are possible over the weekend.
Watering is in progress to improve and maintain conditions. The total amount will be dependent on the rain in the coming days.