Christmas comes early for Warwick Racecourse

Desert Queen has been entered for the feature race at Warwick on Thursday.
Desert Queen has been entered for the feature race at Warwick on Thursday.

With milder weather spreading across the country this week, the scene is set for Warwick’s Eventmasters Christmas Raceday on Thursday, with the £25,000 Lady Godiva Mares’ Novices’ Chase (Listed Race) topping the seven-race card, writes David Hucker.

Run over a trip of two-and-a-half-miles, the feature race is one of four new Listed chases for mares announced by the British Horseracing Authority during the summer to complement the three races already run at Carlisle, Doncaster and Huntingdon.

Not surprisingly given the prize money on offer, there is a good entry with Desert Queen, a winner of four races under Rules, as well as two point-to-points, having been rated at 148 over hurdles. She won a similar race at Market Rasen last time and has to carry a 6lb penalty for that success, as would Stephanie Frances, who has won four of her last five starts for trainer Dan Skelton, going down by just a head when trying to concede 24lb in weight to the useful Rejaah in the other.

Skelton has also entered Yes I Did, a seven-length winner at Fontwell Park last time out, but she could run instead at Cheltenham tomorrow.

Champion trainer Paul Nicholls also has two possible runners in the shape of Antartica De Thaix, beaten a head on her chasing debut over the stiff Sandown Park course last Friday, and multiple-winner Tagrita, whose first chasing start was a successful one when taking advantage of a last fence blunder by The Organist at Huntingdon. With the runner-up being better off at the weights, there may not be much between the pair this time.

Rock On The Moor, trained in Ireland by Jessica Harrington, would be another interesting contender, having run well when third to the prolific scorer Westerner Lady at Clonmel and Pemba, who was the only one to give the well-named Top Notch a run for his money at the last meeting, receives weight from all the others.

Gates open at 10.20am, two hours before the first race and, with 207 entries in all, it looks like being a competitive afternoon’s racing.

The action gets underway with the eventmasters.co.uk Juvenile Hurdle over the minimum trip of two miles, in which Wilmcote trainer Anabel Murphy has four entries.

Newmarket trainer James Fanshawe is no stranger to jump racing, having saddled Royal Gait to win the 1992 running of the Champion Hurdle for Sheikh Mohammed, who has gone on to found the worldwide Godolphin racing empire.

But, runners over hurdles have been few and far between of late and Singapore Sling, who showed promise in his two runs on the Flat this year, would be Fanshawe’s first since January 2015.

The curtain comes down at 3.35pm with the eventmasters.co.uk Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race for which there are 37 entries, including no less than seven by Welsh trainer Evan Williams.

Along with the racing, there is entertainment including a brass band and magician, while a Christmas-themed best dressed competition is being held, with the winner to receive a membership for the rest of the 2016/17 season. Free mince pies and mulled wine will also be served up to early arrivals at the gates.

General manager Andre Klein is looking forward to the afternoon’s meeting which marks his first anniversary in charge of the Jockey Club owned track.

“The fixture provides the perfect opportunity to enjoy the racing and really get into the Christmas spirit,” said Klein.

“It is a great opportunity to do something different for this year’s Christmas party and make sure your staff and colleagues have a party to remember this year. It should be a great occasion.”

For ticket information call 405 560 or go to www.warwickracecourse.co.uk