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INSIDE TRACK WITH JAMES ARMSTRONG - AUGUST 2017

Wed, Aug 16, 2017

The ‘Race into Autumn’ has commenced at Newcastle Racecourse with five All-Weather fixtures scheduled for next month kicking off on Friday September 8.

In fact, there are a total of 18 Flat fixtures scheduled to take place prior to Christmas, and as in 2016, we’re especially looking forward to some of the maiden contests which should attract a number of promising, young horses.

Throughout 2017, we have followed the progress of a couple of last autumn’s Newcastle maiden winners with immense pride. Stradivarius was a winner over the straight mile for John Gosden in early November, and is now a major contender for the William Hill St.Leger at Doncaster next month having already tasted success at Royal Ascot (Queen’s Vase) and the Qatar Goodwood Festival (Goodwood Cup).

Not to be outdone, his magnificent stablemate Enable, who won on debut here later that month is the current ante-post favourite for the Qatar Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe at Chantilly in October. She has taken all before her this season winning the Cheshire Oaks (Chester), the Investec Oaks (Epsom), the Darley Irish Oaks (Curragh) and the QIPCO King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Ascot).

Away from the Flat, we’re also making steady preparations for a return to National Hunt action in November, with the Unibet Fighting Fifth Hurdle (Saturday December 2) the early season highlight.

With a good ‘growing’ summer (i.e. plenty of rain and warm temperatures), the jumps track is in fantastic condition, with areas that have housed marquees for the Northumberland Plate and Ladies Day fixtures already treated and given special attention to aid recovery.

The ground-staff have completely rebuilt six fences with the old birch stripped out and new birch re-stuffed, whilst every single hurdle has been threaded with fresh ‘in leaf’ birch.

The entire track has been harrowed to remove thatch and debris in the grass sward and is regularly spiked and aerated to assist grass root development, with the voids created by the slits encouraging the downward movement of roots and an overall healthier grass condition.

Furthermore, all ‘take-off’ and ‘landing areas’ have been hollow tined (to aerate and relieve compaction) and treated with fertiliser, with further plans to verti-drain the course to maintain a nice consistent level to the racing surface. Finally, an autumn dressing of fertiliser will be applied in early September, with selective herbicides utilised in smaller areas in order to kill off weeds.

To further protect the racing surface and in a bid to give better experience to the younger horses in National Hunt Flat (Bumper) races, we have agreed with the British Horse Racing Authority to run such races on the All-Weather track during January and February. Ground conditions are often notoriously wet during these months, and we intend to harrow the Tapeta deeper than for Flat racing to allow more ‘give’ for the National Hunt horses.

Further details on how to book tickets for any of our upcoming Flat or National Hunt fixtures are available at: www.newcastle-racecourse.co.uk.

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