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Monday, December 22, 2003


Jair Du Cochet is 6-4 (from 13-8) with Coral for the King George VI Chase following the news that Best Mate will miss the Kempton race.

Hennessy winner Strong Flow is 7-2 with a run.

King George VI Chase
6-4 Jair Du Cochet, 3-1 First Gold, 11-2 Fondmort, 10-1 Swansea Bay, 14-1 Valley Henry, 16-1 La Landiere, 20-1 Edredon Bleu, Le Roi Miguel, 25-1 Hussard Collonges, Marlborough, Tuitchev, 33-1 Batman Senora, 50-1 It Takes Time, Seebald

7-2 Strong Flow (WAR)


Three trainers today said their horses could run in the £30,000 skybet.com ROWLAND MEYRICK HANDICAP CHASE at Wetherby on Saturday, December 27, which looks like attracting an excellent field.

Skippers Cleuch (9st 13lb) has always looked a horse of great potential, winning his first seven races. Last season the nine-year-old chaser landed two novice chases - at Kelso and Wetherby - and on his latest start put up a good performance to take the Rocom Handicap Chase at Wetherby by an impressive 14 lengths.

Trainer Len Lungo revealed today: "If the ground is suitable, Skippers Cleuch is a probable runner in the skybet.com Rowland Meyrick Chase. We will go there if the ground is good or good to soft.

"He seems to be fine following his last outing at Wetherby although this looks to be a very hot race indeed."

Another likely starter in the three mile, one furlong contest is the Andrew Balding-trained Gunner Welburn (10st), who finished a gallant fourth in last season's Martell Cognac Grand National. The 11-year-old Gunner B gelding was pulled up on his seasonal reappearance at Newbury on November 29 but Balding is confident of a better run at Wetherby.

The Berkshire-based handler said today: "The plan at the moment is to run Gunner Welburn in the skybet.com Rowland Meyrick Chase at Wetherby.

"I was a bit disappointed with his seasonal reappearance at Newbury, although I think he just got a bit tired.

"He will strip fitter this time and this is more like his trip. The horse seems well in himself and the ground should be fine for him. I don't know who will be riding him yet - I'm just trying to sort that out at the moment."

Another horse likely to be heading to the "A1 Course" on Saturday is the Andy Crook-trained Ryalux (10st 7lb), who gave the trainer his greatest success when landing last season's Gala Casinos Daily Record Scottish Grand National.

Speaking today, the North Yorkshire trainer commented: "Ryalux will run in the skybet.com Rowland Meyrick Chase, providing the ground doesn't come up too soft. With the way the ground is at the moment, I would be quite happy for Ryalux to run.

"I've been happy with his two outings so far this season [sixth in a handicap hurdle at Kelso and fifth to Keen Leader in the Grade Two Tommy Whittle Chase at Haydock] and the handicapper has dropped him 3lb for his last run, so we are only off a 2lb higher mark then we won the Scottish Grand National.

"Richard McGrath will ride him. I'm just hoping for a bit better luck than two years ago when Behrajan came up and beat Heidi III in this race. I do feel that Skippers Cleuch could well be an improving type and looks well handicapped."

The feature race of Wetherby's Saturday card has attracted 24 entries, with Truckers Tavern heading the weights on 11st 12lb.

Truckers Tavern, runner-up to Best Mate in the 2003 Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup has been confirmed as a likely starter in the Listed contest by trainer Ferdy Murphy while local raider Hussard Collonges (11st 4lb), trained by Peter Beaumont and victorious in the 2002 Royal & SunAlliance Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, is another possible starter.

Ballybough Rasher (10st 12lb), who caused a 40/1 upset when landing the Grade Two bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby on November was today described as a "probable runner" by a spokeswoman for Howard Johnson's stable.

Other entries include Marlborough (11st 2lb), the 2002 Charlie Hall Chase winner and a trio from Paul Nicholls' stable, Ad Hoc (11st 2lb), Royal Auclair (10st 11lb) and Exit To Wave (9st 12lb) while Bingley-based Sue Smith has two possibles to choose from in the shape of Artic Jack (10st 8lb) and Cill Churnain (9st 1lb).

Tim Betteridge, Wetherby's Chief Executive, reported today: "The ground is currently good, good to soft in places.

"We had 10 millimetres of rain over the weekend and, while it is a bitterly cold day today, the forecast is for milder conditions towards the middle of the week with temperatures of around 8-10 centrigrade in the daytime and the chance of some further showers."

Admission prices at Wetherby are Premier Enclosure £20, Paddock Enclosure £12 and Course Enclosure £4. Accompanied children under 16 are admitted FREE to all enclosures and parking is FREE (except cars into the Course Enclosure, where there is a £14 charge which also includes admission for up to four adults).

This is the second year that Harrogate-based bookmakers Sky Bet have supported this meeting which also involves tremendous racing on Boxing Day, Friday, December 26.

Sky Bet will provide £100 for the person who looks after both the best turned-out horse and the winning horse in all their races.


Following a strong December in terms of attendance, the Yorkshire racecourses will welcome their one millionth racegoer this year at Wetherby on Boxing Day Friday – thereby establishing a modern-day record.

With Wetherby's pre-bookings for Boxing Day running at 52% over last year, it is now clear that the ‘million' will be achieved on Friday.

A 2004 Yorkshire Racing Season Ticket, a £200 bet with the meeting's sponsor Sky Bet (along with the chance to judge a best turned-out horse award) and an invitation for two to have lunch on the Dine & View Restaurant at a future Wetherby Meeting are the prizes to be presented to the lucky racegoer identified as the millionth in Yorkshire in 2003.


Arena Leisure is delighted to announce that Lingfield Park Racecourse is to receive a complete refurbishment of its main grandstand and other public areas to vastly improve facilities in both the Members' and Grandstand Enclosures. The £5-million project is set to begin immediately in the New Year.

Planning permission has been granted for the main grandstand to receive a complete and much-needed overhaul. The aim of the Lingfield executive is to provide modern and stylish facilities to complement the success of the new Polytrack all-weather race surface, and provide the best possible facilities for racegoers throughout the year at Britain's busiest racecourse which stages all-weather, turf flat and National Hunt racing.

General Manager Clive Stephens expressed his delight at the refurbishment being given the go-ahead and said: "Lingfield Park has evolved over many years, and some of the facilities are badly in need of modernisation.

"There is never a good time for work to take place as we are always racing. However, we have managed to plan the next few months as carefully as possible so as not to disrupt racegoers during the work period."

The project commences on 5th January 2004, with the main works (phase 1) due to be completed and the grandstand re-opened on 6th May 2004, in time for the Lingfield Derby and Oaks Trial meeting on Saturday 8th May."

Refurbishment Areas and Details:

The popular Brasserie will be extended with a conservatory area offering seating for an additional sixty people. The wall elevations are to be designed in such a way that in the summer they will be folded back to create a semi open air dining facility.

The connecting owners, trainers and annual members bar is also to be extended, providing approximately 40% extra floor space. The area will be refurnished, decorated and carpeted with additional Tote betting facilities. At a later date, it is intended that this area will be provided with track-side viewing.

The Champagne Bar will be completely refitted, furnished, decorated and carpeted. The bar is being linked into a new glass atrium, which is being built between the Owners and Trainers Bar and the Derby Restaurant.

As stated the Atrium is being built to cover an area between the rear of the main stand and the Derby Restaurant, providing an entrance from the Members' Enclosure into the stand and house lift and stair access to the restaurant and corporate box floor.

The Heineken Bar will be extended, completely refitted, decorated and furnished, with upgraded retail facilities to provide quality food products at good value prices.

The Oaks Bar again will receive a complete re-fit to include furniture, bar, floor coverings and fittings. A grab and go food offering will be introduced, and the area will be given a sports bar theme.

The Derby Restaurant will be given a complete make-over to provide a restaurant/bar facility in a much-improved setting. Retail counters, fittings, furniture and floor coverings will be changed to complement a new ambiance that we aim to develop throughout.

The Champagne and Seafood Marquee will be replaced with a more contemporary structure, the area being landscaped to provide an attractive outdoor setting for the summer months.

The front elevation of the main grandstand which includes the viewing restaurant and corporate boxes is being moved forward and replaced with a new modern glazed frontage. The movement forward will enable a much needed rear service corridor to be introduced to access the boxes and press box.

The extremely popular viewing restaurant seating capacity is being increased up to approximately 240 seats. The area will benefit from a complete redesign, decoration new furniture, ample TV screens and a new air management system.

Corporate boxes in the main grandstand will be completely refurbished and provided with a balcony over looking the course.

A new Cocktail Bar is being created at the top of the stairs and near the exit from the lift. This will also provide a meeting area overlooking the Members' Enclosure.

The old Whitbread building is being removed and the lawn in front of the pre-parade ring is to be landscaped to create further outdoor seating areas in the summer months.

The Judges, Commentators and Camera position at the top of the stand is being completely replaced and built into the new stand and provided with lift access.

The parade ring, horse walk and winners enclosure will be newly fenced and each area given rubberised flooring which is being fitted to improve safety for the horses. The steppings and railings around the parade ring are to be modernised and the entire area is to be landscaped.

Relocation during the extensive work:

Lingfield Park is scheduled to stage 92 meetings during 2004, with 44 fixtures during the period of development. In order to be able to continue to provide a service to racegoers during that time, existing facilities have been transferred into the following locations.

During the period from 5th January to 20th March 2004, it is intended that the following areas will be operated:

1. The Derby Restaurant - will be open and operated in it's current format, with a slightly upgraded bar offer.

2. The Oaks Bar - this will be open and operated with a "Grab and Go" food offering, introduced to replace the loss of the CBO in the Heineken Bar.

3. The Eclipse - will be operated as the track-side restaurant in all areas. The restaurant WILL NOT operate as a carvery but will adopt a similar menu as that at Folkestone

4. The Pavilion - Two parts will be opened up as The Brasserie and Owners, Trainers and Annual Members Bar. The menu offered will be similar to the Brasserie but not exactly the same, because of equipment logistics. An area will be set up to allow winning owners to be entertained and view the video of their race. These areas may be extended if necessary.

5. Silks - All corporate business will be run out of the Silks boxes which should offer adequate capacity during this time of the year.

Additional Notes
1. Admission prices will remain, as they currently are, one enclosure, being £12 and £6 for pensioners.

2. A new gate map has been produced identifying the operating outlets and what they offer during this period.

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

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