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Monday, 24th Jan 2022

WEST MERCIAN NEWS ROUNDUP

Welcome to the New Area
The 14 Point-to-Point regions as they were originally created stood the test of time until Covid struck which prompted the need for change.

After informal discussions, it became obvious major benefits could be derived from a merger between the old North West and West Midland Areas, with both parties having similar aims.

A formal proposal for the creation of the new area, its officers and structures were approved at a meeting at Hagley Golf Club in May, so the area is now home to 21 meetings, 13 from the West Midlands, 2 from the Welsh Borders (Ludlow and United Pack) and the remainder from the North West.

Ineos Grenadier
We welcome the new sponsors of the Mixed Open Series, who will run a series of 16 qualifying races across the country culminating in a Final at Cheltenham Racecourse on Friday 6th May 2022. The first four horses in these qualifying races plus any horse that has been placed first or second in any Men’s, Ladies or Mixed Open prior to entries closing, will qualify.
Qualifying races at Duke of Beaufort @ Didmarton (5th March)  & Cheshire Forest @ Tabley (3rd April).

Tattersalls Cheltenham 4 & 5 year old Maiden Series
One of the most prominent Bloodstock Sales Companies in Great Britain has been a long-term supporter of the sport. They will sponsor 5 Maiden Races – including a 4-year-old Maiden at Larkhill
No races in West Mercian Area

Highflyer Bloodstock
Disputed finishes are in nobody’s interest and due to the generosity of Highflyer Bloodstock it is now possible for Judge’s to utilise video playback with slow motion technology and that will help support any decisions they made immediately after the race.

Thoroughbred Breeders Association Early NH Racing Initiative 4-year-old Maiden Series
The T.B.A. have stepped in to sponsor the first every 4-year-old Maiden Series
Qualifying race at Wheatland at Chaddesley Corbett on 7th May.

The Jockey Club and Retraining of Racehorses (ROR) Veteran Horse Series
Now in its 3rd season, there will be a total of 14 qualifying races with the first four finishers eligible for the Final at the Melton Hunt Club fixture on Sunday 22nd May.
Qualifying race at the Wheatland at Chaddesley Corbett on 7th May

Oriental Club Owner/Trainer Series
This series was well received in its first season but has not been able to build on that success due to

Covid, but the 13-race series is deliberately intended to provide competitive racing. All horses competing in any race in the series will qualify for the final at the Mid-Surrey Farmers meeting at Godstone on 1st May.
Qualifying races at Duke of Beaufort at Didmarton on 5th March and Gloucester Races at Maisemore Park on 27th March.

 Jockey Club Mares Maiden Series
There will be a series final with the first four finishers in the 16 qualifying races eligible for the Final at the Berkeley meeting at Woodford on Saturday 23rd April.
No qualifying races in the West Mercian Area although the Albrighton & Woodland fixture at Chaddesley Corbett on 2nd June, does receive support

Lorna Brooke remembered in West Mercian Ladies Races
The tragic death earlier this year of Lorna Brooke left a big void in the amateur ranks and had a major impact in the closely knit weighing rooms of Point-to-Point and National Hunt courses along the Welsh Borders where she had accumulated so many friends and colleagues over the last 20 years.

A chance meeting between Judith Healey, Nickie Sheppard and Lorna’s father Alistair during the celebration of her life at Ludlow Racecourse in late May led to the creation of a series of Ladies Races which will culminate in a Final at the Albrighton & Woodland (South) fixture at Chaddesley Corbett on Thursday 2nd June.

All of the events will be held at meetings in the newly established West Mercian Area, where every Ladies Open will carry the title The Lorna Brooke Memorial Qualifying Race, with Lorna’s family putting up the prize money for the Final and Mementoes.

Entrance to the final is open to ANY horse that started in these qualifying events, and it is hoped these events will keep Lorna’s memory at the fore front of our minds.
Harkaway Club Ladies Open on Tuesday 28th December 2021
Albrighton & Woodland (North) Ladies Open on Sunday 20th February 2022
Sir W W Wynn’s & Flint & Denbigh Ladies Conditions on Sunday 13th March 2022
Croome & West Warwickshire Ladies Open on Saturday 19th March 2022
Cotswold Ladies Open and Ladies Conditions on Sunday 3rd April 2022
Cotswold Vale Farmers Ladies Open on Sunday 10th April 2022
Worcestershire Ladies Open on Saturday 16th April
North Shropshire Ladies Open on Monday 18th April
Berkeley Ladies Conditions (Level 1) on Saturday 23rd April
Final – Albrighton & Woodland (South) on Thursday 2nd June.

Major milestones for 3 courses in 2022
Didmarton, Maisemore Park and Paxford all celebrate major anniversaries over the next 6 months. Despite what it says in this year’s Planner the former opened in 1947, Maisemore Park held its first meeting in 1982, while Paxford is the youngest of the trio opening in 1997, meaning the South Gloucestershire course celebrates 75 years of racing in March, followed a few weeks later by Maisemore (40 years) and Paxford (25 years).

The sport is indebted to current and previous course owners, for allowing racing to take place over their land and for the countless Clerks of Courses and volunteers who have toiled year after year to transform a farmer’s field into a racecourse.

However, they all have some way to go to catch up the Areas oldest courses i.e., Eyton-on-Severn which opened in 1921, and Brampton Bryan which held its first fixture in 1929.

Dairy Partners West Mercian Open Race Championship
Gloucestershire based Dairy Partnerships is a long-established British run dairy company supplying major UK and overseas markets and is rightly described as “A local company with global reach”, have sponsored this championship for the last two years but it has now been renamed the Dairy Partners West Mercian Open Race Championship.

The winner of this Championship picks up the first prize of £1,000 and is seen as a major incentive for owners to run their horses in the Area.

This year’s Championship comprises of 28 races, 12 Mixed Opens, 8 Men’s Opens and 8 Ladies Opens and that should cater across the whole spectrum of horses competing at this level, with races ranging from 2-1/2 upwards which should guarantee competitive racing in each category.

The qualifying races are as follows: –
14 November 2021 – Clifton (Knightwick races) – Mixed Open
28 December 2021 – Harkaway Club – Men’s and Ladies Open
20 February 2022 – Albrighton and Woodland North – Men’s and Ladies Open
5 March 2022 – Beaufort – Mixed Open
13 March 2022 – Sir W W Wynns/Flint & Denbigh – Mixed Open
19 March 2022 – Croome – Mens and Ladies Open
20 March 2022 – United – Mixed Open
27 March 2022 – Ledbury – Mixed Open
2 April 2022- Ludlow – Mixed Open
3 April 2022 – Cotswold – Mens and Ladies Open
3 April 2022 – Cheshire Forest – Mixed Open
10 April 2022 – Cotswold Vale – Mens and Ladies Open
16 April 2022 – Worcestershire – Mens and Ladies Open
16 April 2022 – North Staffs – Mixed Open
18 April 2022 – North Shropshire – Mens and Ladies Open
18 April 2022 – North Cotswold – Mixed Open
23 April 2022 – Berkeley – Mens
2 May 2022 – South Shropshire – Mixed Open
7 May 2022 – Wheatland – Mixed Open
15 May 2022 – Knutsford – Mixed Open
2 June 2022 – Albrighton and Woodland South – Ladies Open

Frequent runners Scheme at Area Point-to-Points
In addition to the opportunities provided by National Sponsors (see above), there is an added incentive for owners and trainers to run their horses in the area, with the start of the West Mercian Area Frequent Runner Scheme (jointly sponsored by Shires Equestrian, Buyabreak and Southwick Wines).

Covering 21 fixtures from November to June, each race will carry a star rating depending on its propensity to attract entries and runners. For example, Point-to-Point Bumpers until the end of March will attract 1pt, whilst Open races will attract 5pts. For the remaining two months of the season, scores will alter in order to encourage runners trained both within and outside the Area to run in our races.

Prizes provided by the scheme’s sponsors will be available as follows:
LEADING TRAINER FROM OUTSIDE THE AREA – will receive a £200 voucher from Shires Equestrian whilst one the first three one horse trainers within the Area will each receive £100 vouchers.
LEADING SIX TRAINERS WITH MOST POINTS – will receive a weekend break worth £149 from sponsors Buyabreak, dedicated to making your next UK break as relaxing and enjoyable as it can be. The company has partnered with selected hotels & resorts to bring you the most cost-effective solutions available.
LEADING SIX TRAINERS – will each receive a case of Notorious Pink, exclusively imported into the UK by sponsor Southwick Wines.
LEADING TRAINER FROM OUTSIDE THE AREA – will win a £200 voucher to spend with Shires Equestrian, whilst the 3 leading trainers with two horses or less will each win a £100 voucher. 

Details for the star ratings for each race will be published in due course.

New Date for Knightwick Races
The season will be barely three weeks old when Knightwick Races stage their meeting on Sunday 14th November. With the Dunsmore fixture in Devon providing the only opposition that weekend the organisers must be hopeful of attracting plenty of runner from Wales and adjacent areas.

Shelfield Park opens to the paying public
Last year’s inaugural event (which took place behind closed doors) was well received but the Croome and West Warwick’s course at Shelfield Park faces its first real test when it opens to the public in mid-March. This meeting helped provide a viable racing programme during last year’s Covid affected season but the earlier date should help this meeting reach its full potential.

Entry Fees refunded at Andoversford Races on 3rd April
Eagle eyed trainers will have spotted what is effectively a free entry for both the Mens and Ladies Open races at the Cotswold fixture at Andoversford on Sunday 3rd April. Both of these races have a first prize of £500, while the 4th horse wins £50 but with the entry fee refunded on declaration in both Open races for horses outside the first four, that means all the horses get a free run – don’t forget to enter.

Cotswold Vale Farmers move back to Andoversford
The Cotswold Vale Farmers moves back to Andoversford this year. This meeting has alternated between this year’s venue and Maisemore Park since 1967. A majority of the races are for Veteran and Novice Riders.

The Lady Dudley Cup
As befits its status the centrepiece of the Worcestershire meeting on Saturday 16th April offers some of the best prize money available during the 2021/2022 campaign, with monetary awards down to 8th place. The first horse gets £1250, 2nd = £500, 3rd = £250, and 4th down to 8th place = £80. The Ladies Open has a first prize of £450, while in all other races the winner receives £300. Total prize money is over £6,000

Berkeley welcomes the Jockey Club Series Final
The Jockey Club Mares’ Maiden Series now has a new home for its £700 Final at the Berkeley Hunt’s fixture at Woodford in Gloucestershire on Saturday 23rd April. Handily placed just a few minutes from junction 14 on the M5 this course is convenient for all points on the compass.

Under the new-look format, any mare who finishes in the first four in one of The Jockey Club’s 16 qualifying races will be eligible for the final, as will, fillies and mares who win any other maiden race.

In addition, The Jockey Club is again offering a double-prize money bonus linked to its 15 licensed racecourses which stage Flat and Jump racing, and it is also extending the offer. In the past only the winner of the points-based series was eligible for the bonus on her first run at a Jockey Club racecourse. Now the first three finishers in the final are eligible on their first, second or third run at any such racecourse.

The winning filly or mare will double any prize money she earns (including place money) at a Jockey Club racecourse on her first, second or third run, up to a maximum of £10,000. The second and third filly or mare in the final can double their prize money up to a maximum of £5,000 on their first, second or third runs.

West Mercian and Wales Area Conditions Race
With Bangor-on-Dee racecourse situated in Wales, the Sir W W Wynn’s and Flint & Denbigh Hunts decided to open up the final race on their card on Sunday 6th March to horses from Wales as well as the West Mercian Area in the hope of attracting runners from the Principality.

Knutsford Races
The Lord Daresbury Old North West Affiliated Class Final Conditions Race remains as part of the Knutsford Races Club fixture at Tabley on Sunday 15th May. The race has long been one of the highlights of racing in the North West and no doubt this year’s event will be a keenly fought event.

Other News
All Chaddesley Corbett meetings now have the same secretary with the appointment of Jane Allfrey for the five fixtures held at the Worcestershire venue i.e., Harkaway Club, Albrighton & Woodland (North & South), Worcestershire and Wheatland. Jane is well known in local Point-to-Point circles as both an owner and trainer and had previously been secretary of the North Ledbury meeting.

Ros Emmet takes over from Carol Clift who is the long servicing Secretary in the history of the Duke of Beaufort meetings so has some big shoes to fill.

We also welcome two fixtures and their secretaries which have elected to join us from the old Welsh Border Area, namely Katie Ayres and the Ludlow and Pauline Duggan from the United Pack.

Ladies Champion
Who is going to be crowned the first Leading Lady Rider in the newly created Area. With last year’s West Midlands Champion Hannah Lewis having retired and with other established riders making similar decisions the door is open for someone to take this prestigious title in six months’ time.

West Mercian Area Season Tickets
The West Mercian Area have launched a new racegoers Season ticket, offering best value racing across seven counties of the UK over eight months. With courses stretching from Shropshire to eastern Gloucestershire and the heartland of Point-to-Point racing in Worcestershire, there’s plenty to enjoy from fixtures that showcase the best young horses and riders that provide the stars of tomorrow alongside old favourites ridden by family for family.

With daily admission from £15, membership at £130 offers a saving of over 50%. The non-transferable membership offers access to each of 21 fixtures from November – June, including the Area’s Classic race, the Lady Dudley Cup.

Buy now at www.pointingwm.co.uk

 

 

 

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