Middleham Stables open on Good Friday

Racehorses in Middleham. Photo: Sobolevnrm/Flickr

The popular Middleham Stables Open Day takes place tomorrow with racing yards again opening to the public.

The event, sponsored by ARC, took place last year on Easter Monday but this year returns to its traditional slot on Good Friday.

Stable yards will be open from 9.30am until 1pm and will include those of Mark Johnston who will have a whole host of stars on show and will also be swimming horses at Kingsley House Stables, Jedd O’Keefe (where Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle winner and Cheltenham Stayers Hurdle runner Sam Spinner resides) and Karl Burke’s Spigot Lodge, trainer of last year’s Group 1 winners Laurens and Unfortunately.

There will be lots more to see in the many yards around the area including a jumping demonstration and show of two-year-olds at James Bethell’s Thorngill stables at 11am, various market stalls and food offerings in Middleham, a craft fair at the Key Centre, celebrity pony Little Alf, star of author Hannah Russell’s books and a parade of the local Fox Hounds.

Household Cavalry horse Trooper ‘Middleham’ will also be on show.

In the afternoon, events will once again move to the Low Moor where planned activities include a show to music by Retraining of Racehorses, schooling of National Hunt horses from Micky Hammond’s stable and an inter-yard team competition for stable staff.

This will feature the Millbry Hill sponsored Showjumping in conjunction with the local pony club, an Egg and Spoon Race and the Beverley Racecourse Donkey Derby which should provide plenty of excitement.

Last year’s event was a great success with big crowds visiting the town.

The majority of proceeds of the event went to Racing Welfare to fund the planned Hill House development in memory of Jessica Bethell which will support the Middleham racing community.

Further funds were donated to Yorkshire Air Ambulance and local charities including Riding for the Disabled, Citizens Advice Bureau and Middleham Sports and Wellbeing Association.

Sarah Fanning, of Racing Welfare, said: “We are very excited for the 2018 Open Day.

“Middleham has so much racing history and some fantastic equine talent in the yards and it will be a great opportunity for the public to come and see the likes of Cheltenham runner Sam Spinner and exciting horses for the 2018 flat season.

“We are very grateful for ARC’s generous sponsorship of the overall event and hope the public enjoy the events we have on offer.

“We look forward to welcoming lots of visitors on Good Friday.”

Tickets to the event are on sale at www.middlehamopenday.co.uk with adult tickets priced at £10, concessions at £7.50 and those 16 and under going free of charge.

For the first time since 2000, trainer Ann Duffield and her husband George, the former classic-winning jockey, won’t be opening their doors for the Middleham Stables Open Day on Good Friday.

The Duffields have always been proud supporters of the popular Open Day, even welcoming visitors when it was cancelled in 2016.

But this year the combination of atrocious weather and building work at the Duffield’s Sun Hill stables at Constable Burton, near Middleham, have forced Ann and George to take the painful decision to stay closed on March 30.

“It wasn’t easy, but ultimately there was no alternative but to remain closed. We love the Open Day, and it’s a great opportunity to showcase our stables, horses and facilities, and to welcome friends old and new, but it would have been chaos,” explained Ann.

“This is the first year since 2000, when we haven’t opened our doors for the Middleham Open Day. Ongoing building work for two new log cabins and the horrendous weather has left us with a bottomless car park. Cars would just sink. The field where people normally park is very wet indeed.

“We’re very sorry indeed to let our regular visitors down, together with those who might have planned to visit for the first time. If you are interested in Sun Hill and becoming an owner, please feel free to contact us on 01677 450303.

“It is a pity, because our brand-new Sports Horse-training and Rehabilitation is now open and it would have been tremendous to have shown everyone around. However, we are looking forward to welcoming visitors throughout the year, once this awful weather has cleared up,” said Ann.