Following today’s early closing for entries of the Betfred Midlands Grand National, Uttoxeter Racecourse now has an indication of the horses that may compete for the record-breaking £130,000 prize fund on Saturday, 19 March.
Taking place at the end of Cheltenham Festival Week, the Midlands Grand National is the second longest Steeplechase in the country at 4 miles and 1 1/2 furlongs and is a true test of stamina and courage for both horse and jockey.
Since its creation in 1969 this prestigious fixture has been a firm favourite in the racing calendar and with a £30,000 increase in prize money for the feature race in 2016, it has attracted 61 entries which will slim down to the 20 plus 2 reserves at final declarations on the Thursday morning - 48 hours before.
No one is keener to win the big race than Somerset Trainer David Pipe, who has won the Midlands Grand National four times in his short time as a trainer. As he looks toward his fifth attempt with 6 horses entered, Pipe commented, “The Team at Uttoxeter should be applauded for the lift in prize money for this race. When I first won it in 2011 it was a good prize fund at £85,000, so this is some improvement.”
He added “I hope my team will be in the shake up for the big race.”
Irish trainers have won five out of the last 16 races and this year 3 horses from across the Irish Sea have been entered. J.T.R Dreaper, who won the race in 2015 with Goonyella, is looking to defend the title for Alan & Ann Potts with Sizing Coal.
Taking over her father Dessie’s training license full time just over 12 months ago, Sandra Hughes also had a piece of the prize fund in 2015 when Raz De Maree was second. Could 2016 be Hughes’ year to go full throttle and really take off, with Ryanair owner Michael O’Leary’s Irish Grand National winner Thunder and Roses.
Top weight is the Philip Hobbs trained, recent Ascot winner Sausalito Sunrise, who is also entered in to the Cheltenham Gold Cup really cannot be ignored, although he is several pounds clear of Neil Mullholland’s Caroles Destrier.
Having achieved 16 out of 59 Chase wins during her short career, Uttoxeter fan and trainer Kerry Lee can do no wrong at the moment and holds a double hand with Knock A Hand and Alfie Spinner.
Alan King’s yard is also well represented, including locally owned Sego Success amongst the top weights.
The racecourses Executive Director, David MacDonald said It is exciting to see the quality of entries for this years race. The Betfred Midlands Grand National is now one of the top jump races in the calendar and with a prize fund of £130,000 Uttoxeter has certainly caught people’s attention. It will be interesting to see the final declarations on Thursday 17th March and a great race on the Saturday.
Entrance to this year’s Betfred Midlands Grand National range from £15 - £42. Due high demand for Premier tickets it is advised to book in advance, however tickets can also be purchased on the day at the entrance. For further information and to book tickets online, visit www.uttoxeter-racecourse.co.uk/midlands-grand-national or call 01889 562561.