Newmarket stages a unique contest this Saturday, August 16 - Newmarket Experience Day - when the Soccer Saturday Super 6 Grey Horse Handicap (2.55pm) takes place.
Run over six furlongs, the £20,000 event is restricted to horses registered as grey and provides a truly unique spectacle as a field of greys charge their way up the historic Newmarket turf.
Established in 2003, the Soccer Saturday Super 6 Grey Horse Handicap has grown to become a fun and memorable contest during the fabulous summer racing season on The July Course at Newmarket.
The contest has attracted 19 entries at today’s five-day entry stage, headed by last year’s victor Compton’s Eleven. Last year, the Mick Channon-trained seven-year-old prevailed from Certain Justice and the appropriately-named Grey Boy, who are both entered once again this year. Channon could also be represented by Lunces Lad and Leading Edge, while Certain Justice’s trainer, Stef Liddiard, has also entered Green Lagonda and Sarah’s Art.
Tony Newcombe saddled Middleton Grey to record back-to-back victories in 2004 and 2005, while the tough campaigner also finished fourth in 2006 and eighth last year.
This year Devon-based Newcombe is set to be represented by Witchry. The six-year-old, a Green Desert gelding out of the champion filly Indian Skimmer, surprised connections when winning a six-furlong handicap on soft ground at Chepstow in May and posted a decent effort over the distance when fourth of 17 behind Makshoof at Haydock last time.
Newcombe revealed today: “Witchry wouldn’t have the turn of foot of Middleton Grey but as long as it’s not over-competitive, he’ll go there with a really good chance.
“Witchry won on easy ground at Chepstow a couple of months back and has run fourth on both starts since. We’ve had him a little while now and we didn’t think he went in the soft - we actually kept him away from soft ground - so when he won at Chepstow, that gave us another dimension to his racing. We can now run him on soft and we can also run him over a bit further.
“He’s one of the best bred horses in the world, being by Green Desert out of Indian Skimmer. If you go through the pedigree, you’d expect him to get the mile, so a stiff six and an uphill finish should be tailor-made for him. The ground doesn’t matter, although the easier the better, and he is working well at home. We’re looking for a big run.”
Other interesting entries include Zowington, who was fourth in the five-furlong Highland Meridian Gardens Handicap at the Ritz Club July Festival last month, Clive Cox’s consistent performer Secret Night, the tough veteran Pic Up Sticks and last year’s fifth Star Strider.
NEWMARKET EXPERIENCE DAY
In addition to good-quality thoroughbred racing, there are plenty of attractions off the track on Newmarket Experience Day.
There are activities on offer from noon onwards, beginning with the “In Hand Championship For The Rehabilitation Of Racehorses”, a competition that sees ex-racehorses taking to the show ring. Finalists for this event have qualified from across Britain and there will be prizes for the best-turned out horses. In addition, there is a display of rare-breed Suffolk Punch horses
A charity penalty-shoot out takes place at 12.45pm while there are numerous children’s activities and entertainments on offer throughout the afternoon, as well as a whole host of exhibitions and trade stands from racing-related organisations.
The Soccer Saturday Super 6 Grey Horse Handicap is one of seven races at Newmarket on Saturday, with the remainder of the card backed by Lloyds TSB. The first race is due off at 1.50pm.
Admission to the Premier Enclosure is £22 (concessions £12), Grandstand and Paddock £16 (concessions £10) and entry to the Garden Enclosure is £5. All accompanied children under 16 are admitted FREE of charge.
THE SOCCER SATURDAY SUPER 6 GREY HORSE HANDICAP
Year Winner Age/Wgt Trainer Jockey SP Ran
2007 COMPTON’S ELEVEN 6-9-10 Mick Channon Ted Durcan 5/1 17
2006 CLEARING SKY 5-8-00 Jim Boyle Matthew Henry 50/1 13
2005 MIDDLETON GREY 7-8-12 Tony Newcombe Fergus Sweeney 5/1 12
2004 MIDDLETON GREY 6-9-01 Tony Newcombe Johnny Murtagh 4/1 12
2003 SMART PREDATOR 7-10-00 John Quinn Keith Dalgleish 11/4F 13