HORSE RACING: Winter Ladies Day at Huntingdon set for bumper fields

Megan Nicholls -  the Face of Winter Ladies Day 2016.
Megan Nicholls - the Face of Winter Ladies Day 2016.

The excellent racing conditions produced by the award-winning ground staff at Huntingdon Racecourse looks set to attract a bumper crop of fields on Saturday (November 19).

Racehorse trainers have been crying out for softer ‘going’ for their horses after the dry spell in Britain this autumn – and they will get what they are seeking at the Cambridgeshire track on Cambridge Magazine Winter Ladies’ Day.

No fewer than 123 horses have been entered for the seven races which begin at 12.05pm. The going on Monday was described as ‘good to soft and good in places’ by Clerk of the Course Jack Pryor, who was present earlier this month when the ground staff team at the racecourse picked up the award as the Institute of Groundsmanship’s John Deere Professional Horse Racing Grounds Team of the Year.

The most valuable race of seven on Saturday is the Cambridge Magazine Lady Riders’ Handicap Hurdle, a £10,000 contest which is a qualifier for horse racing’s Challenger Two Mile Hurdle Series Final. Trainer Sue Gardner won the two-mile race 12 months ago with Sirop De Menthe and is set to be represented this time by Rafafie.

The annual Winter Ladies’ Day is an occasion guaranteed to brighten up November in an array of styles and colours, with apprentice jockey Megan Nicholls, the daughter of Champion National Hunt trainer Paul Nicholls, the ‘Face of Winter Ladies’ Day 2016’.

Fitting in with the day when fashion is very much to the fore is the Cambridge Magazine fashion marquee, the main hub of entertainment away from the racetrack. Visitors will be inspired with the latest fashion trends through style showcases, they can sing along to live music from Marc Dillon, buy Christmas presents and refreshments at the trade stands and enter the #HuntingdonStyleAwards

The #HuntingdonStyleAwards are not to be missed, so spectators are encouraged to wear their boldest styles and colours to impress the judges from Cambridge Magazine – sponsor of the fixture for the third year - to be in with a chance of winning some amazing prizes.

Liam Johnson, General Manager at Huntingdon Racecourse, said: “The final months of the year are the busiest time at Huntingdon Racecourse as we build up to December and Betfred Peterborough Chase day and our Boxing Day meeting. Saturday’s Cambridge Magazine Winter Ladies’ Day is very much a fixture in the sporting calendar now. We have a tremendous day of competitive jump racing, fashion, music, food and festive fare lined up and are looking forward to welcoming a big crowd.”

Megan Nicholls, who was a pony racing champion, has taken part in many point-to-point races and ridden multiple winners on the Flat and over jumps for racehorse owners like former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, said: “I am thrilled to be the ‘Face of Cambridge Magazine Winter Ladies’ Day’ at Huntingdon Racecourse. Although I am a Flat jockey, jump racing is very much close to my heart and I love jumps tracks like Huntingdon so I have relished becoming involved with the racecourse in helping to promote one of their most exciting days of racing of the year.”

Tickets for the Main Enclosure are on sale for Winter Ladies’ Day at http://huntingdon.thejockeyclub.co.uk and on the ticket hotline on 0844 579 3007, starting from £18 in advance (£20 on the day). Accompanied children aged 17 years and under are admitted free of charge.

For those spectators wishing to make their visit to the racecourse extra special, there is a choice of Lentons Package, including a pint of beer or a glass of wine, a race-day programme and a hot home-made pie, which is £27 in advance, or Hurdles Package (dish of the day instead of the pie), which is £31 in advance.

Racing on Saturday November 19 is between 12.05 and 3.25pm, with gates open two hours before the first race.