Horse Racing: Launching Middleham Open Day an honour says Down

Alastair Down.
Alastair Down.
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EDUCATED at the University Of York, legendary racing broadcaster Alastair Down has a rich association with God’s Own Country.

Little wonder then that Down is “honoured” to be launching the 2015 Middleham Stables Open Day in eight days’ time.

The Middleham event is now in its 22nd year and today faces competition from Good Friday racing held at both Kempton Park and Musselburgh.

Yet a huge part of Down’s heart lies with Yorkshire and the commentator is relishing officially opening the popular event next Good Friday.

The Open Day attracted more than 6,000 visitors in 2014 and raised more than £18,000 for local and national charities.

Fittingly, there are priceless Yorkshire anecdotes in Down’s new book, ‘Cheltenham Et Al, The Best of Alastair Down’, which the author will be signing during Open Day.

Down, who was the face of Channel 4 Racing for many years and is one of the most-respected and talented racing journalists in the UK, will launch the day at 9.15am and said: “It is a great honour to be opening Middleham’s special day. My association with racing in Yorkshire goes back 40 years, when I was a student at York University, and I have many happy memories of racing in the county, as well as many friends amongst Yorkshire’s trainers and jockeys. I love Yorkshire – and Yorkshire people – and I find all the stereotypes to be completely false. Whilst I was at university I chose to live at Buttercrambe near Stamford Bridge because of its proximity to Malton’s gallops.”

With the stables open to the public, there will be more than 500 horses for visitors to see, while racing from Lingfield will be screened live from a big screen at the Top Cross in Middleham from 1.45pm.

This year the two main charities to benefit from the Open Day will be the Jessica Bethell Charitable Foundation, in memory of the daughter of James Bethell, the chairman of Middleham Trainers’ Association, and The Household Cavalry Foundation.

Mister McGoldrick, one of the icons of Yorkshire’s National Hunt racing scene, will also be the guest of honour at trainer Patrick Holmes’s Spigot Lodge yard in his role as an ambassador for the New Beginnings racing charity, which provides a safe and supportive environment for ex-racehorses.

Tickets cost £10 per adult, including a souvenir brochure and a chance to win a prize in the programme draw.

Admission for accompanied children is free. Fourteen yards are open to the public on Good Friday from 9.30am till either 1pm or 2.30pm. Free parking is available in Middleham or nearby Leyburn, with free bus links between car parks and the outlying stables. This includes Ann and George Duffield, who are opening their Sun Hill Stables at Constable Burton from noon until 4pm.

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