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Inside Track

Thu, Oct 6, 2016

The entire team at Newcastle Racecourse were thrilled with the positive feedback from our first fixture under Floodlights on September 23. Despite months of intensive planning and rigorous safety checks, it was obviously somewhat of a relief when the evening was finally complete.

Friday nights under the lights will be a common theme at Gosforth Park in the weeks ahead and we look forward to welcoming our sponsors, racegoers, owners, trainers and jockeys to the racecourse to sample the atmosphere associated with our very own set of Northern Lights.

October to December will be a very busy period with a further 26 fixtures before the end of the year. In addition to Flat racing on Tapeta, preparations are well advanced for a return to National Hunt racing on November 11 in the build up to another exciting Stan James.com Fighting Fifth on November 26.

Over the summer, weve carried out drainage improvements to a couple of areas of the National Hunt track. This should ensure that our turf racing surface is better placed to withstand any prolonged periods of winter precipitation or rain as most people call it! Furthermore, weve also completely rebuilt five steeplechase fences and re-packed five others so we hope horses and jockeys enjoy jumping them.

A number of trainers may have had the opportunity to examine these improvements at close hand post-racing last week, with plenty of National Hunt horses galloping on the Tapeta. As we at Newcastle prepare for a new jumps season, many trainers such as Sandy Thomson, who galloped Seeyouatmidnight, are starting to put the final touches to their horses for the impending winter campaign. We look forward to welcoming them all.

Effective forward planning is a critical duty for any Clerk of the Course, and a vastly increased fixture list brings about not only additional grounds demands but also an increased administrative workload. With the fixture list for 2017 published, Im currently involved in the race planning process for the first quarter the year.

At Newcastle, weve been allocated 29 fixtures between January 2017 and March 2017, which means that a minimum of 174 individual races need to be scheduled and included within the British Horseracing Authority race programme.

Additional fixtures necessitate the creation of new races or the transfer of races previously staged at other racecourses to Newcastle. The former presents the challenge of working out the most suitable type of races to offer, whilst the latter brings about minor issues associated with the tweaking of race distances to link in with our fixed starting positions at Gosforth Park. Furthermore, with many more evening fixtures scheduled, we need to consider the ever moving sunset times to establish the running order of all of our races.

This weekend is a weekend of back to back racing, with evening fixtures taking place on Friday and Saturday October 7 & 8. Thereafter, we move quickly onto the Esh Charitable Trust Raceday on Friday October 14 before our first Sunday fixture since 2010 on Sunday October 16.

If jumps racing is your passion then dont forget to secure your tickets for the Stan James.com Fighting Fifth before October 28 to receive a 7 discount off the gate price. Advance online tickets are available at www.newcastle-racecourse.co.uk

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James Armstrong