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Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Haydock Park and Aintree host a fantastic weekend of racing at the Northwest Racing Masters on November 24 & 25, with nearly £700,000 in prize money on offer.

The highlight at Aintree on Sunday, November 25, is the £100,000 totesport.com Becher Chase over the Grand National course.

The three and a quarter mile handicap is a key trial for the John Smith’s Grand National and Silver Birch followed up success in the 2004 totesport.com Becher Chase with victory in the world’s greatest chase last season.

Amberleigh House gave trainer Ginger McCain a fourth victory in the Grand National in 2004, having triumphed in the totesport.com Becher Chase three years earlier.

Seven horses returned to Aintree in April this year following a run earlier during the season in the totesport.com Becher Chase, with Mckelvey finishing a close second behind Silver Birch in the John Smith’s Grand National. He was sixth in the 2006 totesport.com Becher Chase, while stable companion Dunbrody Millar came third to Eurotrek.

Trainer Peter Bowen hopes that Dunbrody Millar can boost an already-impressive record over the National fences in the totesport.com Becher Chase on November 25.

“Dunbrody Millar is a definite runner in the totesport.com Becher Chase. He needed his run over hurdles at the weekend, and he’s half as good over hurdles as he is over fences. He just comes alive at Aintree and loves the place.

“We’ll see how he gets on there. Following that, he’ll have a couple of runs over hurdles before returning to Aintree for the John Smith’s Grand National.”

The nine-year-old gelding has finished in the money on all three of his starts over the Grand National fences. After coming fourth in the John Smith’s Topham Chase in 2006, Dunbrody Millar returned to win last season’s renewal of that two mile, five and a half furlong handicap.

Iron Man could also line-up for Bowen in the 2007 totesport.com Becher Chase, and he too will be aimed at the Grand National in April.

“Iron Man is entered in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby and the United House Gold Cup at Ascot this weekend and, depending on how he comes out of either race, the totesport.com Becher Chase is a distinct possibility.

“He’s rated 154 over fences, but we’ll leave him over the larger obstacles as he’s an out and out chaser. The John Smith’s Grand National is the plan at the moment.”

Iron Man enjoyed a successful campaign over the summer, winning the valuable totesport.com Summer Plate at Market Rasen in July, and returning to the Lincolnshire course to triumph in the bluesqcasino.com Handicap Chase in September.

The six-year-old gelding has raced once over the National fences, unseating Tom O’Brien at the first fence in last season’s John Smith’s Topham Chase.

Bowen could also be represented by another John Smith’s Grand National hope at the Northwest Racing Masters, with talented seven-year-old Blue Splash being aimed at the £100,000 Betfair “Fixed Brush” Handicap Hurdle at Haydock Park on the first day, Saturday, November 24.

“Blue Splash will probably run in the valuable hurdle at Haydock. He was a good novice chaser last season and we’ll give him two spins over hurdles before he goes to the Welsh National at Chepstow. Then with a bit of luck, he’ll go straight to the John Smith’s Grand National.”

The seven-year-old was progressive last season, winning a novices’ handicap hurdle at Aintree in October before going on to score twice over fences.

Betfair, the leading betting exchange, sponsors all Haydock Park’s races on the first day of the Northwest Racing Masters, with the £200,000 Betfair Chase, the target of champion Kauto Star, being the highlight. It is the first leg of the Betfair Million bonus.

Bowen is aiming Mckelvey at the John Smith’s Grand National in April following a couple of runs over hurdles, while his other Grand National hopeful is Ballycassidy, who has ran in the race three times before without any luck.

Ferdy Murphy, who ran Joe’s Edge and Haut de Gamme in the totesport Becher Chase last season, will be represented by another talented chaser on November 25.

The Yorkshire-based trainer reported: “Leading Man definitely starts. He’s doing really well, and he’ll possibly have a run this Sunday at Carlisle as a pipe-opener.”

The seven-year-old ran with credit in several of the top handicap chases last season, winning the Grade Three Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase at Wetherby on Boxing Day, and putting in game efforts in the Peter Marsh Chase and the Red Square Vodka Gold Cup, both at Haydock Park.

Murphy also has his eyes on the 2008 Grand National and will aim three horses specifically at the race.

“Hot Weld, Joes Edge and You’re Special will be aimed totally at the Grand National. They might have one or two runs before that, but the first time they run over the National fences will be in April.”

As well as the totesport.com Becher Chase, the famous Grand National Course will also play host to the £70,000 totepool Grand Sefton Chase over two miles, five and a half furlongs on November 25.


The 2007 Northwest Racing Masters is set to attract even more visitors from all over the UK and Ireland.

Julian Thick, Managing Director of Aintree Racecourse, home of the John Smith's Grand National, commented today: “You don't have to be a racing fanatic to enjoy the Northwest Racing Masters. This race meeting is the only other time in the year when Aintree races over the famous Grand National fences and is now a firmly established Grand National trial, with many of jump racing's stars going on from this meeting to the showcase event in April, the John Smith’s Grand National.

“Adding a taste of the festive season to the weekend will surely encourage many first-time racegoers to sample the best our North West racecourses have to offer.”

Dickon White, Managing Director of Haydock Park which hosts the first day of the Northwest Racing Masters, said today: “The Northwest Racing Masters is only in its third year, but it is growing in popularity very rapidly.

“The fact that this year's event falls into the Christmas party season, as well as the growing reputation of the event as one of the most exciting new race meetings in the UK, means we are due to increase the attendance significantly.”

Located in one of the most vibrant regions in the country, the Northwest Racing Masters meeting offers a great opportunity to discover England's Northwest. It is an ideal time to combine a love of racing with a visit to Liverpool, European Capital of Culture, and the rest of the region.

Haydock Park, St Helens, is the most visited racecourse in the UK, offering first class racing all year round. It is located half-way between Liverpool and Manchester, just off junction 23 of the M6 motorway.

Aintree Racecourse is home to the John Smith's Grand National and is between Liverpool, European Capital of Culture 2008, and Southport - the perfect destination for a weekend break with beautiful beaches, great attractions and superb shopping.


Two-day tickets, available from the sales offices of both Haydock Park and Aintree, are on sale now. For both racedays, accompanied children aged 16 and under are admitted FREE.

Aintree Booking Line: (0151) 522 2929 Hospitality: (0151) 5222911
Online: www.aintree.co.uk

Haydock Booking Line: (01942) 402624 Hospitality: (01942) 402623
Online: www.haydock-park.co.uk

Accommodation Line: 0845 601 1125 (UK) or + 44(0)151 709 8111 (overseas)

Log on to www.visitliverpool.com/northwestmasters for more details.

1. The Northwest Racing Masters is delivered by Aintree and Haydock Park Racecourses and sponsored by The Mersey Partnership and St.Helens Council with support from Sefton Council, Merseytravel, Liverpool Culture Company and European Regional Development Fund.

2. The Mersey Partnership (TMP) is a unique alliance representing over 420 businesses across the Liverpool City Region. These include household names such as Littlewoods and Royal SunAlliance. Its members represent manufacturing and trading companies, six local authorities, government agencies, universities, media organisations and professional agencies who are all working together for the future economic growth of Merseyside. Its mission is to build a dynamic team to champion the Merseyside advantage campaigning for the Liverpool City Region as a great place, to live, work, invest and visit generating greater returns for all. It has three areas of activity: Economic Development - co-ordinating Merseyside's economic development activity through the Action Plan for the City Region 2002 - 2005; Investment - bringing new business into Merseyside and encouraging growth in existing businesses; Tourism - promoting Merseyside's tourism assets to increase visitor numbers and grow the economic benefit to the Liverpool City Region. TMP is supported by the European Regional Development Fund under the Objective One programme for Merseyside.

3. Southport
Eighteen miles north of Liverpool is Southport, 'England's Classic Resort', where you will find glorious sandy beaches, a Victorian pier and superb shopping. Southport has a wide variety of attractions, including the new Splash World Water Park, and also stages some of UK's largest events such as the Southport Flower Show and the Southport Airshow. With Royal Birkdale hosting The Open Championship in 2008 and 15 top courses nearby, Southport justifiably claims to be England's Golfing Capital. With 21 miles of beach, sand dunes, woodland and farmland the Sefton Coast is the perfect setting for those who want to get away from it all and explore. www.visitsouthport.com

4. St Helens
Explore the hidden delights that make this a destination of choice for visitors to the Northwest. An eclectic mix of glorious countryside, fascinating heritage, vibrant nightlife and quality sporting events, St.Helens has something to offer everyone. Located midway between the cosmopolitan cities of Liverpool and Manchester, this thriving borough is the perfect base from which to explore the whole of the Northwest and beyond. For more information go to www.visitsthelens.com or telephone 01744 755150

For old articles (from 1st March 2000) go to the Newslink Archive

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