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Tuesday, December 2, 2003


Yorkshire-based trainer, Mark Johnston, who recorded 139 winners on the Flat this year, acquiring over £2 million in prize money to be runner-up in the British Trainers' Championship, today received the prestigious ‘Go Racing in Yorkshire' Award at the annual ‘Go Racing in Yorkshire' Lunch at The Ripon Spa Hotel, an event sponsored by Sky Bet.

This award, presented annually to the person or persons who make outstanding contributions to the sport of racing in Yorkshire during the year, is judged by a panel of northern racing journalists.

52 of Johnston's winners were achieved on the Yorkshire racecourses this season, while he also broke a British racing record – recording over 100 winners in the season for the tenth successive year. Once again he had considerable success at Royal Ascot and the ‘Glorious Goodwood' meeting, while he recorded winners abroad – notably when Pearl Of Love won a Group 1 race in Italy.

Johnston was also presented with a Waterford Crystal trophy to celebrate being the leading trainer on the Flat in Yorkshire during 2003, while Kevin Darley who rode 47 winners on the Yorkshire racecourses this term to be the top rider in the county on the Flat, was also presented with a Waterford Crystal trophy. Both awards continue to be sponsored by Sky Bet, whose managing director, Nick Rust made the presentations.

Mary Reveley and Russ Garritty took the honours as the top trainer and jockey respectively over Jumps on the Yorkshire tracks during the 2002/03 Jumping season. They both received trophies provided by International Racecourse Management Ltd. the company which administers racing on the three Yorkshire courses which stage action over Jumps.

The guest speaker at today's Lunch was former Yorkshire cricketer, Mike Cowan, while Peter Hill-Walker chairman of Redcar racecourse, spoke on behalf of the ‘Go Racing in Yorkshire' committee.


The nine Yorkshire racecourses are set to achieve a modern-era overall attendance record of over one million for the year, as racegoers flock to the county's racecourses in ever-increasing numbers.

With every Yorkshire racecourse recording a rise in attendances, last year's total attendance figure of 900,000 has easily been broken. The current average attendance figure of 6,200 represents a 6.25% increase over last year's final figure.

It is anticipated that the millionth racegoer in Yorkshire in 2003 will attend the second day of Wetherby's Christmas Meeting on Saturday, 27 December. That racegoer will receive a free £200 bet from the meetings' sponsor Sky Bet, along with the chance to judge a best-turned-out horse award and watch the race from the sponsors' box. They will also receive a ‘Go Racing in Yorkshire' Season Ticket for 2004 and be invited to a future Wetherby meeting to have lunch for two in the Dine & View Restaurant.

Graham Orange, ‘Go Racing in Yorkshire's' public relations officer said: "The county's racecourses have had a wonderful year, with big crowds watching some of the best racing in the U.K.

"Racing continues to provide a great sporting day out as the Yorkshire courses continue to lead the way in British racing. To reach a total attendance figure of one million would be a marvellous achievement."

There will be a record 174 scheduled race days next year on the Yorkshire racecourses.


Noel Chance today revealed that he intends to run stable star Flame Creek in the £75,000 Tote Bula Hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday, December 13, 2003.

"The Tote Bula Hurdle is plan A for Flame Creek," said the Lambourn trainer. "Only if something unforeseen happened between now and then would he go to Ireland [Leopardstown on December 29] instead of the Bula."

Despite being unbeaten in three starts over fences this season, Chance has decided that the seven-year-old should now revert to hurdles.

"We went fencing with Flame Creek and he won his first two chases in May and then he won a chase on his reappearance at Kelso," he recalls.

"But he's not jumping well enough over fences to compete at the top level. He would really want to be attacking his fences to have any chance in the championship races against horses like Azertyuiop. We would just rather he went back hurdling because it might make him a better jumper of hurdles having had a couple of spins over fences."

If the trainer is right that chasing will improve his hurdling, Flame Creek should be competitive in the highest grade over timber this term as he did well last season. The Shardari gelding won three times over hurdles during the 2002/2003 campaign, including in the New Years Day Handicap Hurdle at Prestbury Park.

Later in the season he disappointed when unplaced in the Smurfit Champion Hurdle at the National Hunt Festival before being pulled up in the Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr the following month.

Chance explained: "He came back out of sorts and just wasn't right in the Smurfit Champion Hurdle. His jumping then let him down at Ayr - he was in good shape and we were happy with him but he made a horlicks of the fourth and fifth flights. He must have obviously rapped himself and he didn't want to play after that."

Flame Creek will face stiff opposition in the Tote Bula Hurdle as Philip Hobbs has indicated that this year's Smurfit Champion Hurdle hero Rooster Booster will make his seasonal debut and go for a repeat victory.

Chance is realistic about the difficulty of Flame Creek's task. "We've got it all to do - there's no doubt about that," he continued. "We can't go anywhere else as he's rated 157 over hurdles so what do we do?

"I'm not going to carry 12 stone in a handicap or something like that and get beat which he would do giving that much weight away so we're going to run him in all the top hurdles and he might win one and be placed in a few and could pick up 50 or 60 grand in a year."

This is the first year that the Tote has sponsored the Tote Bula Hurdle, which is named after the great Bula, who gained a memorable double when he won the Smurfit Champion Hurdle two years running in 1971 and 1972 for trainer Fred Winter.

The programme on Saturday, December 13, the second and final day of the Tripleprint Meeting, also features the £100,000 Tripleprint Gold Cup, the second leg of Cheltenham's Autumn Double.

Admission prices for the Tripleprint Meeting are Club & Tattersalls £18 and 16-24 year-olds £10. The Courage enclosure is currently closed. Parking is free. The first race is at 12.00pm on Friday, December 12 and at 12.10pm on Saturday, December 13.

For old articles (from 1st March 2000) go to the Newslink Archive

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