New Racing Post ‘Go North’ weekend celebrates northern Jump racing through three-day springtime highlight

17 Jan 2019 BHA Features Grassroots

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has today launched Racing Post ‘Go North’ Weekend, an exciting enhancement to the northern Jump racing season which will begin in March 2020.

This will consist of three days of valuable and competitive Jump racing at northern racecourses as follows:

Musselburgh – Friday 20 March 2020
Kelso – Saturday 21 March 2020
Carlisle – Sunday 22 March 2020

As well as featuring three competitive days’ racing, the meeting will be accompanied by open mornings at trainers’ yards across the region, offering the opportunity for racegoers to get to see behind the scenes of the racing industry in the area.

Furthermore, the fixture will offer meaningful end-of-season targets for horses trained in the north and provide a showcase for Jump racing in a region which boasts a rich history of success.

The cards at Musselburgh and Carlisle will feature three each of the six finals for the Northern Lights series, which has been restructured to run during the core Jump season rather than through the calendar year, and has also featured the addition of a 2m4f chase series, following feedback from trainers.

Kelso’s Saturday fixture, which already hosts a series of valuable handicaps televised on ITV, will form the middle of the three-day event. All three fixtures will receive support from the BHA development fund in order to boost prize-money on offer.

Trainer James Ewart said: 

“Any initiative to boost prize-money and the race programme in the region should be applauded, and this series of fixtures now provides a real target for us to aim horses at as the core Jump season draws to a close.

“The races will fit in to the existing programme in the north very well, and utilising different courses will also ensure a variety of opportunities in terms of both the terrain and racing surface on offer.

“The changes being made to the Northern Lights Series also make it much more feasible from our perspective in terms of planning a campaign for our horses to get them qualified for the finals.”

Lucinda Russell, horseracing, northern racing, scottish racing, Aintree, Grand National winning trainer, norther opportunities, Trainer

Lucinda Russell

Trainer Lucinda Russell said: 

“It’s great to see the industry working together to give trainers, owners and yards based in the north some really decent prize-money to aim towards at the end of the Jump season. It’s definitely something we’ll be looking to support with our horses next spring and I’m sure others in the area will do so too.”

Horseracing, Northern racing, jump racing, trainer, jockey, British Horseracing Authority, racing post, BHA

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson, head of racing at the BHA, said: 

“Horses trained in the north have had a great deal of success this season, with horses like Definitly Red, Lady Buttons and Lake View Lad winning major prizes. We want this series of fixtures to shine a spotlight on the northern Jump racing scene and, in doing so, create an end-of-season event that owners and trainers in the north, and many of their horses, can realistically target.

“We are pleased to launch what we see as the ongoing development of this weekend and would like to thank Carlisle, Kelso and Musselburgh racecourses for their investment and the Racing Post for agreeing to sponsor the weekend.”

Tom Kerr

Racing Post editor Tom Kerr said: 

“We’re delighted to be supporting the Racing Post ‘Go North’ Weekend, which will offer northern and Scottish trainers, jockeys, owners and racegoers three days of high-quality racing on home turf next March.

“In recent times northern trainers have sometimes struggled to match the financial resources of the big southern and Irish yards, although the recent exploits of its leading professionals demonstrate there is no shortage of talent and ambition in the region.

“This weekend of high-quality racing will shine a light on some of the great racecourses, trainers and jockeys operating in the north and continue the important work that has already been done to support and reinvigorate the sport in this part of the world.”

Musselburgh chief executive Bill Farnsworth said: 

“The new Racing Post ‘Go North’ weekend will provide a wonderful beacon in the north during the Jump racing year and especially during the winter months as the big weekend approaches.

“It will provide an action packed weekend, full of variety, which will be great fun for the owners, trainers, jockeys and racegoers alike. We are counting down the days already.”

Kelso managing director Jonathan Garratt said: 

“The northern region, particularly the Scottish Borders, has a disproportionately high percentage of people with equestrian skills and knowledge. We are committed to providing an aspirational programme that encourages owners to put their faith in northern trainers. This initiative is a welcome opportunity to showcase the talent that exists across the region. It’s a pleasure to collaborate with trainers and other racecourses. I hope it will be a lot of fun for everyone who attends.”

Carlisle general manager Molly Dingwall said: 

“We’re really excited to be a part of the Racing Post ‘Go North’ weekend, which will feature the chase finals of the Northern Lights series. We hope the new initiative will see increased interest from the northern trainers across the region and we look forward to hosting the raceday at Carlisle in March 2020.”

Notes to editors:

1. Significant efforts have been made to re-invigorate the Jump racing programme in the North, following the formation of an industry-wide group to tackle the issue as recommended in from the 2015 Jump Racing Review.

This was headlined by the Northern Lights Series, which initially saw a series of qualifying races run throughout the year culminating in five £25,000 finals first run on Northern Lights Finals Day at Carlisle racecourse in December 2017. The aim of the series was to provide an incentive to own and train horses in the north and stimulate investment into the grass roots of the sport in this region.

The northern Jump racing programme has consistently been maintained to try and ensure there are aspirational targets for horses of all abilities in the region, irrespective of the fluctuations in the performances of the north’s horse population.

There are recent indications that northern Jump horses are having more success at the top end of the race programme, as evidenced by the performance of northern trainers in Black Type races so far this Jump season in the graph below.

Number of Black Type races won by northern trained horses in 2018/19 Jump Season

Horseracing, Black type races, jump racing

There remains an opportunity within the other tiers of the horse population in the region. These three fixtures aim to provide valuable prizes to aim towards at the end of the season for those horses.

2. Runs in qualifiers for the 2019 Northern Lights Series, which was due to be run at Carlisle in December 2019, will count as qualifying runs for the relevant races in March 2020 but for this iteration of the series the qualifiers will take place over a 15 month period rather than over a year.

Further information regarding qualification for the Northern Lights series finals and the other races due to take place during the series of meetings is available from the BHA Racing Department via 0207 152 0050 or racing@britishhorseracing.com.

3. Further details of the confirmed race programme for the three days will be confirmed in due course, via the quarterly Programme Book and Racing Calendar process.