Wetherby under starter’s orders for bumper Christmas meeting

wet. Feature on Wetherby Racecourse. 090330ARpic3.
wet. Feature on Wetherby Racecourse. 090330ARpic3.

Midnight Chase is on course to contest the £40,000 Grade Three Betfair. Don’t Settle For Less Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase (1.45pm), the highlight of the six-race programme at Wetherby on Boxing Day, Monday, December 26, day one of the Welcome To Yorkshire Christmas Meeting.

The annual meeting is Wetherby’s biggest of the year and hopefully will avoid a repeat of the last two winters where it was cancelled due to ice, snow and frozen ground.

Nine-year-old Midnight Chase, who is trained by Neil Mulholland for owner Lady Clarke, won three competitive handicap chases at Cheltenham last season before his fifth in chasing’s Blue Riband at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

His one outing this season came at Down Royal in Northern Ireland on November 5, when he fell two fences from home in the Grade One JNwine.com Champion Chase.

The Betfair. Don’t Settle For Less Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase, run over three miles and a furlong, was first run in 1957 and boasts an outstanding roll of honour with subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup winners Forgive’ N Forget (1984) and The Thinker (1986) among the winners.

This is the first year of an exciting two-year partnership with headline sponsor Welcome To Yorkshire.

The Welcome To Yorkshire Christmas Meeting continues on Tuesday, December 27, when the highlight is the £16,000 Castleford Handicap Chase (2.20pm) over two miles.

A shuttle bus service will be in operation between Wetherby and the Racecourse before and after racing on both days of the meeting.

The first bus will leave Wetherby at 11am both days, with a service offered approximately every 20 minutes.

Return journeys will commence at 3.40pm for approximately an hour and a half.

Gates open on both days at 10 am with complimentary mulled wine and mince pies for the ‘early birds’ on Boxing Day. Accompanied children under 16 years of age are admitted free of charge into all enclosures.

There is also a dedicated ‘Parenting Room’ in the Paddock Enclosure, with baby-changing facilities, microwave and comfy chairs.

Musical entertainment during the meeting will be provided by ‘LA Jazz’ and the Endeavour Ceilidh Band, while ‘Musical Ruth’ - the singing nun - will be giving a rendition on Boxing Day.

The team from Rigmoor Reindeer will be bringing a couple of reindeer to add to the attractions on Boxing Day, which also includes an array of trade stands.