Join us for an action packed day of racing and entertainment featuring the Totepool Towton Novices’ Chase on Saturday 3rd February! Experience the thrill of racing as we take you back to Medieval days, hailing back to the Battle of Towton in 1461.
Prepare for battle re-enactments from Knights in Battle, live music from our Medieval musicians, Medieval weapon handling and see for yourself the battle camp kitchen as well as traditional craftsmen at work. Knights in Battle will be joined by SMJ with a variety of birds to admire and handle.
(Above: Baywing, winner of the 2017 Totepool Towton Novices’ Steeple Chase)
Wetherby Racecourse stages its annual Totepool Medieval Day this Saturday, February 3, with a seven-race card headlined by the £35,000 G2 totesport.com Towton Novices’ Chase (2.40pm, 17 entries).
Run over three miles and 45 yards, the totesport.com Towton Novices’ Chase is named in honour of the Battle of Towton, which was fought just 10 miles from the racecourse in March, 1461, during the War of the Roses.
Mr Mulligan took the inaugural running in 1996 before going on to capture the Cheltenham Gold Cup the following season.
Champion trainer Nicky Henderson could bid for his first totesport.com Towton Novices’ Chase success with impressive French recruit Terrefort. The six-year-old has a rating of 151 on the back of a 10-length demolition of his rivals in a novices’ handicap chase at Huntingdon on January 12.
G1-winning hurdler Ballyoptic, impressive on his chasing debut at Exeter in November but not at that level in two subsequent stars, could try to give trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies a record-breaking third win in the race.
Elegant Escape (Colin Tizzard) was 13 lengths behind Ballyoptic at Exeter and has since captured a G2 contest at Newbury before finishing second to Black Corton in the G1 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase on Boxing Day, with Ballyoptic back in fourth.
Keeper Hill (Warren Greatrex) also brings graded form to the table, having annexed the G2 December Novices’ Chase at Doncaster before Christmas.
The only mare among the entries Pearl Royale (Nigel Hawke) is hard to assess after posting an impressive 11-length victory in a competitive mares’ novices’ chase at Wincanton on December 26. G2-winning hurdler Jessber’s Dream finished second in the two and a half mile contest, with the third home, Theatre Territory, going down narrowly in a handicap chase at Cheltenham last weekend.
Trainer Nigel Hawke, based in Devon near Tiverton, said of the daughter of Robin Des Champs: “Since Pearl Royale won on Boxing Day at Wincanton, and the form of that was cemented on Saturday with the third running so well at Cheltenham, the plan has been the totesport.com Towton Novices’ Chase.
“I know she has only had one run over fences but, at this point of the season, we need to know what we are dealing with. The entries have been made for Cheltenham [National Hunt Chase and RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase] and I do not want to chuck her in the deep end if we are not quite there yet.
“She has won her last two starts by 50 lengths and Wetherby looks an ideal stepping-stone to see where we are. She gets 7lb from the boys and is built like a gelding. At some stage, she will have to take them on, but if she gets beat fair and square on Saturday, then at least we know where we are.
“The further she goes, the better she goes, and I have no worries about the step up to three miles. She is tailor-made for it.”
The excellent entries also include Barney Dwan (Fergal O’Brien), Captain Chaos (Dan Skelton) and Dingo Dollar (Alan King) who have all been kept fresh since winning their respective races in late November and early December.
Welsh Grand National fourth Vintage Clouds (Sue Smith), who won easily at Aintree in October, is also engaged along with Ami Desbois (Graeme McPherson), a dual winner at Wetherby so far this season, and Big River (Lucinda Russell).
Wetherby’s seven-race programme, which starts at 1.00pm, also includes the £20,000 totescoop6 Play Today Handicap Chase (1.35pm, 14 entries) over two miles.
The going at Wetherby is currently: Heavy, Soft in places
The outlook is reasonably dry for the next seven days, with exception of a light shower mid-week.