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Inside Track

Thu, Dec 15, 2016

December provides the ideal opportunity to take stock and reflect upon a unique and successful year for Newcastle Racecourse.

May 2016 heralded the dawn of a new era for the racecourse, with the culmination of an exciting £12million investment programme to bring all-weather racing to Newcastle. Since our opening meeting on the all-weather in May, we’ve staged a further 32 Flat fixtures, with four more to follow in the remainder of the year.

Analysis of the facts and figures for racing between May and October demonstrates the popularity of the new all-weather surface with owners and trainers. During this six month period, we had a total of 1,745 runners, with an average field size of 10.4 runners per race. This figure of 10.4 is an increase of 1 (from 9.4) on October 2015 when we’d staged our Flat racing on turf. Of the six all-weather racecourses in England, Newcastle has the highest average field size.

However, we’ve not only brought an increased number of runners per race to Newcastle, but we’ve also sought to improve the overall quality of the races on offer. Dannyday took the inaugural running of the Betfred Northumberland Vase for trainer Sir Michael Stoute, whilst the feature Flat race of the year at Newcastle, the John Smith’s Northumberland Plate also headed back to Newmarket, with the Charlie Appleby trained (Godolphin owned) Antiquarium edging out the Brian Ellison trained Seamour.

As summer turned quickly to autumn and then winter, the attention turned to the All-Weather Championships. Fixtures through September, October and November have not only seen Kananee take the first Fast-Track Qualifier on offer, but also have yielded a number of promising juveniles winners, most notably; Mandarin, Mojito, Holmeswood, Middle Kingdom and Poetique.

In terms of the National Hunt track, the year got off to a frustrating start with three successive abandonments during January, but in the five fixtures which followed up until April, we witnessed a popular local success in the Betfred Eider Chase. Rocking Blues ran out a nine length winner of the Eider for Alnwick trainer Rose Dobbin, in the hands of 17-year-old Lorcan Murtagh.

The summer saw drainage improvements carried out to a couple of areas of the National Hunt track. We opened up the winter campaign in November with two exciting fixtures. The Paul Nicholls trained Irving becoming a dual winner of the Stan James.com Fighting Fifth Hurdle when denying Apple’s Jade by the minimum margin of a nose, and the Venetia Williams trained Otago Trail digging deep to capture the At The Races Rehearsal Chase.

All in all, it’s been an equally challenging exciting and rewarding year to have been associated with Newcastle Racecourse and we’re now all set for a great 2017 where we’ll host 62 fixtures. There are five more fixtures throughout the remainder of December (15, 16, 17, 21 & 30), with tickets available at: www.newcastle-racecourse.co.uk.

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James Armstrong