After losing Heritage Day in February and with the course flooding just six days prior to the Welcome to Sky Sports Racing Day, it was a relief to get the go-ahead for Saturday’s fixture. The fantastic ground staff team worked around the clock during the week to ensure the ground conditions were perfect for the quality seven-race card.
Saturday marked a milestone for Bangor-on-Dee and Chester Race Company as the first day of broadcast under the new banner of Sky Sports Racing/At The Races. Alex Hammond, Hayley Moore and Dan Barber were on course and provided excellent coverage throughout the day, creating the perfect debut for our new broadcast partners.
Saturday also included a trip down memory lane as the History Timeline was unveiled. Located outside the Annual Members Bar, the timeline was created to celebrate 160 years of racing at Bangor-on-Dee and includes important milestones, alongside press cuttings and images of famous horses who have raced at the North Wales track.
Over 3,000 racegoers, of all ages were present on a beautiful spring day to enjoy all the action.
After two successes at the Cheltenham Festival, trainer Dan Skelton took the Lindop Toyota Novices’ Hurdle to start the afternoon. West To The Bridge raced keenly in the early part of the race, but was eventually pushed clear by William Marshall to win the opener by eight lengths.
A positive front-running ride by Andrew Tinkler saw Comber Mill win the attheraces.com Welcomes Bangor-on-Dee Handicap Hurdle for trainer Alastair Ralph. Kicked clear by Tinkler turning in, Comber Mill was pressed after the last, but held on gamely to deny William Marshall and Dan Skelton a quick-fire double.
The Broxton Gates Handicap Hurdle was taken by a fast-finishing Driftwood Haze for owner, breeder and trainer Philip Dando. Switched inside after the last by Mitchell Bastyan the 11-year-old wore down long-time leader Samson’s Reach in the final strides.
Copper Gone West was an impressive winner for Tim Vaughan and Alan Johns in the Follow At The Races on Twitter Novices’ Hurdle. Following Bee Crossing for the majority of the race, the former Irish point to point winner took over to lead three out and drew clear to win by 11 lengths.
The Sky Sports Racing Welcomes Bangor-on-Dee Mares’ Handicap Steeple Chase was taken by top weight The Bay Birch. Held up, before improving to lead between the last two fences, the eight-year-old mare stayed on well under jockey Stan Sheppard to claim the three-mile contest for father Matt. A disappointing run from Champion Hurdle winning trainer Gavin Cromwell’s Biddy The Boss, back in fifth.
Ffos Las specialist Steel Native claimed the penultimate race of the day for Wales based trainer and owner Dai Rees, under Richard Patrick. The game Cadeau De Bresil battled back gamely after being hampered by the fall of Danboru at the last, but ran out of luck and was denied by half a length.
The John Hewitt Memorial Open Hunters’ Chase saw the most thrilling finish of the afternoon, providing the perfect finale. A photo finish saw Optimised named the winner, only a short head separating himself and the Paul Nicholls trained Unioniste. Running off the back of two recent point to point wins, the seven-year-old stayed on well for Cheltenham Foxhunter winning combination Philip Rowley and Alex Edwards.
Local charity Home Start, held an exit collection for Welcome to Sky Sports Racing Day, receiving over £600 in donations from racegoers.
Our next fixture at Bangor-on-Dee is Discovery Day on Saturday 13 April.
Advanced ticket prices start from just £7. For more information and to purchase tickets online, please visit the website www.bangorondeeraces.co.uk or call the box office on 01978 780 323.