Tickets are now on sale for the first ever Racing Post ‘Go North’ Weekend, three exciting days of jump racing and behind-the-scenes access coming to the north of England and Scotland in March as part of an initiative to boost jump racing in the region led by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and sponsored by the Racing Post.
A total of £400,000 in prize money is on offer across three fixtures:
- Friday 20th March – Musselburgh Racecourse
- Saturday 21st March – Kelso Racecourse
- Sunday 22nd March – Carlisle Racecourse
With all three fixtures accompanied by local trainers opening their yards on the morning of each day, offering the public behind-the-scenes insight into the industry before enjoying a day at the races:
- Friday 20th March – Nick Alexander, Lucinda Russell
- Saturday 21st March – Stuart Coltherd, Rose Dobbin, Katie Scott, Sandy Thomson
- Sunday 22nd March – James Ewart, Iain Jardine, Nicky Richards
(Further yards may be added in due course)
A weekend ticket which covers all three days of racing will be available for £40 with tickets also available for each individual fixture. Both can be purchased from the relevant racecourse websites above.
A ticket for that day’s racing will be required for access to the stable visits in the morning, with those who wish to attend required to register their interest via this page due to limited capacity at some yards.
A discounted weekend ticket will be available for Racing Post readers and members which will give access to three days of racing and stable visits for just £30.
The weekend’s racing will feature all seven finals of the Northern Lights Series spread across the Musselburgh and Carlisle meetings, with Kelso’s fixture televised live on ITV.
There will be Retraining of Racehorses parades focused on former regulars at northern Jumps courses, with each racecourse also staging an exhibition on the history of northern Jump racing. A prize for the top trainer/jockey/owner of the three fixtures will be presented at Carlisle on Sunday 22 March.
The Northern Light Series, founded in 2016 to boost jump racing in the region and re-vamped to run through the core Jump season last year, now has seven categories whose finals will be spread across the fixtures at Musselburgh and Carlisle.
Musselburgh will feature finals of the juvenile, two-mile, three-mile and mares’ hurdle (2m-2m4f) series whilst the two-mile, middle-distance and staying chase series finals will take place at Carlisle.
All three fixtures will receive support from the BHA development fund in order to boost prize-money on offer.
Trainer Nick Alexander, who is opening up his yard on Friday 20 March, said:
“The region looks to be set for three great days of racing, and we’ll be looking to target the weekend with as many runners as we are able to. We hope people will take the opportunity to come and take a look at how a racing yard works, all the care and attention that is involved in preparing a horse for a race and the facilities on offer to ensure they are looked so well after.”
Musselburgh chief executive Bill Farnsworth said:
“We’re very much looking forward to kicking off Racing Post ‘Go North’ Weekend, and it’s shaping up to be a great event for owners, trainers, jockeys and racegoers based in the region.
“Friday’s card will be an extremely competitive one and there will be plenty on offer both on and off the track to showcase Jump racing in this part of the world.”
Kelso managing director Jonathan Garratt said:
“This region has a wealth of equine and human talent when it comes to racing, as well as other equine disciplines.
“To be able to highlight this on what is already one of our most valuable and high-quality fixtures is a great opportunity for Kelso and the wider area.
“Saturday’s racing will be boosted with a variety of other activities for racegoers and it should be a great day for all involved.”
Carlisle general manager Molly Dingwall said:
“It’s great to be staging the finale of three days of exciting Jump racing and behind-the-scenes access for racegoers and with four Northern Lights Series finals, the racing on offer is sure to be fiercely fought.
“We’ll be crowning the top owner, trainer and jockey of the weekend too and we’re excited about rounding off what should be a brilliant weekend for Jump racing in the North.”
Tom Kerr, Editor of the Racing Post, said:
“We’re proud to be sponsoring the inaugural Racing Post ‘Go North’ Weekend, which is all about celebrating, promoting and supporting the sport in Scotland and the North.
“This is a superb initiative and we’re genuinely thrilled to be involved in what is set to be three great days’ racing and yard visits.”
Paul Johnson, Head of Racing at the BHA, said:
“The Go North Weekend is shaping up to be a great weekend which shines the spotlight on some of the fantastic horses, jockeys, trainers and owners based in the region.
“With some of the biggest trainers in the area also opening their yards to the public on the morning of each day, it will be a great chance for the public to get behind-the-scenes of the sport.
“We are communicating with trainers to let them know which of their horses are qualified for the Northern Lights series finals, and we are looking forward to a weekend of competitive and exciting Jump racing to showcase the sport in the North.”
Notes to editors:
1. Useful links (weekend tickets available via racecourse links below):
- Tickets for Musselburgh on Friday 20 March
- Tickets for Kelso on Saturday 21 March
- Tickets for Carlisle on Sunday 22 March
- Registration of interest for stable tours
- Initial announcement of Racing Post ‘Go North’ Weekend
2. 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. Following an overhaul in 2019 seven finals will take place in 2020, with a mares and juvenile hurdle series added for the 2018/19 season. Each will be run for £35,000 each due to additional funding from the BHA Development Fund.
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
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.
3. 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 email@example.com.