Punters are treated to double dose of meetings
DEVON racing fans are in for a treat over the next two days as both the county's courses at Exeter and Newton Abbot stage competitive meetings, writes David Hucker.
First up is Exeter, which begins its new winter season today, with the first race, the Bhest Racing To Schools Are Here Today Novices' Hurdle, due off at 2.20pm.
In all, there will 16 fixtures at the picturesque track high on Haldon Hill, including New Year's Day.
Today's meeting is The South West Athletes Celebration Day and will include a race named after eventer Mary King, who won a team silver on Imperial Cavalier at this year's Olympics, her sixth appearance in all. With 170 entries for the six races, it looks like being a good afternoon's sport.
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The two longest races, both over three miles, are the Thanks To Games Makers Handicap Chase, in which course regular Ammunition could go well again, and the Mary King Beginners' Chase, which looks a good opportunity for Bennys Mist to add to his hurdles win at the track in May.
Newton Abbot's summer season comes to an end tomorrow with a seven-race card starting at 1.50pm. The feature race is the fourth, the South West Racing Club Handicap Hurdle (class 2) over two miles and six furlongs.
During the afternoon, racegoers will be able to see Hunt Ball, the Club's 'Horse of the Year' in the parade ring. Trained in Somerset, Hunt Ball won seven of his nine races last season to become the most improved chaser in training and has the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup as his target this time.
Reflecting on what has been a mixed season at the track, with four meetings lost through waterlogging, managing director Patrick Masterson said:
"Despite the weather, we have played host to some terrific meetings this season. Alongside the ever-popular Ladies' Day in early summer, we also enjoyed our richest-ever fixture on August 4th with a £100k prize fund which was very well received by jockeys, owners, trainers and horseracing fans alike."
"With the economic hardship continuing, we have gone to great lengths to ensure as many people as possible have been able to enjoy a day with us this season. We've continued with our 2-4-1 offers and launched a new free entry for students policy to introduce the younger generation to the sport."
"On behalf of our team at the course, we would like to thank everyone who has supported us this year. It's been another exciting season at Newton Abbot Racecourse and we hope to improve the facilities over the winter ready to offer an even better experience next season."