WITH the weather wreaking havoc with the jumps programme over the last ten days and the Cheltenham Festival just around the corner, a full resumption of racing cannot come quickly enough for professionals and racegoers alike, writes David Hucker.
Warwick’s Air Ambulance Countryside Day on Sunday sees the start of the Cheltenham build-up in earnest, with just 48 hours to go until the opening race of the Festival – the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle – on Tuesday.
Warwick has helped to raise some £50,000 for the charity over the last two years and, with the Air Ambulance Service recently celebrating completion of 30,000 missions, it is a cause the course continues to support.
The service flies two regional air ambulances across five counties, including Warwickshire, providing a rapid response to trauma and medical emergencies over an area of 3,850 square miles, averaging five missions a day with an average response time of just 13 minutes.
Race-goers can buy a special package for the meeting to include a drinks reception, Cheltenham preview with an expert panel, which includes local trainers Olly Murphy and Dan Skelton, and lunch for an all-in cost of £80.
Also on the panel will be Grand National-winning jockey Jason Maguire, who pledged his support for the Air Ambulance Service five months after the charity helped save his life after a fall at Stratford.
Maguire, who rode Ballabriggs to victory in 2011, became one of the charity’s patrons and, having retired from riding, now acts as racing manager to major owners Paul and Clare Rooney.
Wilmcote-based Murphy had his string in good form when the snow came, sending out his 50th winner since taking out a licence last year when Compatriot and Jamie Spencer triumphed at Wolverhampton on the last day of February.
This was Murphy’s eighth winner on the Flat from just 34 runners, adding to his 42 successes over jumps.
Since Dove Mountain, a winner of a Warwick charity race in aid of Air Ambulance when trained by Murphy’s mentor Gordon Elliott, set the ball rolling at Brighton on July 4, it has been onwards and upwards for the young handler, who has twice sent out four winners in a day to showcase his skills.
There will be a family theme to the day’s events which, in addition to the racing, will feature falcons and ferrets, pony rides, magician Jester Styles, face painters, stilt walkers and Mr Twister the balloon artist.
“It is fantastic to be supporting the Air Ambulance Service for a third successive year and to have so far raised around £50,000,” said general manager Andre Klein.
“The race day continues to be a great opportunity to raise awareness of the work carried out by the Air Ambulance Service and enjoy a great afternoon of family fun and racing too.
“With it falling on Mother’s Day this year, it’s a great opportunity to treat your mum with a day at the races, with plenty of countryside activities to keep children entertained.”
For more information, go to www.warwick.thejockeyclub.co.uk.