Across the course of Easter Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday, Plumpton will be staging its principal meeting of the year.
On the opening day the inaugural running of the £25,000 totepool.com Sussex Champion Hurdle will take centre stage at a festival of racing that offers a course record of well over £100,000 in total prize money.
Public interest has been such that the hospitality and restaurant packages offered by the course have been in great demand for both days and just a few remain. Racegoers can go along on either day and pay at the gate, with accompanied under 18 admitted free of charge.
There will be a host of extra entertainment available on both days, with visits from Peppa Pig and Rastamouse and a funfair in the centre of the course amongst a variety of attractions that should make the two days enjoyable for all the family.
Sunshine and warmer temperatures are forecast next week and that should mean bumper crowds for both days, with admission to the track from 11 in the morning and the racing action scheduled to get underway at two-thirty and two-thirty five on each respective day.
Further details can be obtained at www.plumptonracecourse.co.uk.
The record levels of prize money secured by Plumpton for this meeting have not gone unnoticed by the training fraternity, who have supported the course with a high level of entries at the five-day declaration stage, which should ensure some competitive racing for everyone to enjoy.
The Sussex Champion Hurdle is no exception and the weights are headed by a classy performer from the yard of course specialist Alan King.
Balder Succes (above) most recently ran in the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and although he was swimming against the tide when he was hampered and unseated his rider in that prestigious event, this contest is a handicap and represents his easiest opportunity of the season to date.
When you add in the near 40 per cent strike rate his trainer has at Plumpton and that the five-year-old gelding is a course and distance winner, it is easy to understand why he is likely to feature high on the short list of potential winners for many punters.
“He didn’t really have a race at Cheltenham and is going well at home,” said Alan King.
“This looks the right race for him and I’m not really too bothered about what ground we get.
“He’s a course winner and I’m very happy with him.”
As you would imagine, Sussex trainers are well represented in this race and Nick Gifford has given the well handicapped Specialagent Alfie an entry.
He spoke to me earlier this week about the horse’s chance.
“This is a good prize and all being well he’ll definitely go. He’s in great form and I’m hoping to book Tom Cannon to take advantage of his three pound claim.”
He will need the ground to dry out from its current description of soft if he is to be seen to best advantage, but is an individual who has further progression in him and one who is sure to pick up a handicap hurdle by the end of this season before going chasing next term.
The excellent prize money has attracted entries from far and wide and the North Yorkshire trainer Brian Ellison has a pair of entries.
When I spoke with him, he said of his two, Red Inca was the more likely to make the long journey south but he had yet to confirm plans with the horse’s owner and was at best optimistic about him in what he felt was a tough handicap.
The Sussex Champion Hurdle is shaping up to be a very good race and I feel Balder Succes can get back in the winner’s enclosure if he jumps fluently, and Specialagent Alfie could be a decent each way prospect for the contest.
Whatever the outcome, the two days’ racing at Plumpton is sure to provide a great spectacle for everyone present and set things up nicely at the start of a week that culminates with the running of the world’s most famous horse race – the Grand National – a week today.