By Matthew Kirby
On Sunday Wetherby racecourse will join the ranks of flat tracks across the UK & Ireland for the first time.
The Yorkshire course is best known for its National Hunt Racing, which dates back to 1891. Its big race the Charlie Hall Chase was first raced in 1969.
After a successful trial running last June the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) granted Wetherby six flat meetings between April and July.
Currently there are 79 runners entered into the eight race card starting at 2pm. The weather has helped to dry the ground which should allow good racing ground with a few potential withdrawals.
— Wetherby Racecourse (@WetherbyRaces) April 23, 2015
Jonjo Sanderson, Chief Executive and Clerk of the Course told the Wetherby Racecourse brochure: “We are extremely grateful to have been entrusted with delivering what will be a momentous and exciting chapter in the history of Wetherby Racecourse.
“Whilst it is a different direction from the norm for us, the introduction of flat racing is a significant and positive move in the long-term development of Wetherby Racecourse.”
There had been concerns expressed about the tracks future if it remained just a National Hunt racing venue, so there will be benefits for the course and Northern based trainers.
Racecourse commentator Gareth Topham said: “Personally I don’t think we need another flat course in the north however, it will prove popular with connections of horses as there is a large pool of horses up here. Sunday’s meeting should be a great success.”
It is being marketed as the Family Day and will feature the 10th running of the Mascot Gold Cup.
Factfile – Wetherby Racecourse
First Jumps Meeting: 1891
First Flat Meeting: April 26 2015
Big Race: Charlie Hall Chase Grade 2(first raced 1969)