We saw our first star hit the headlines on the day that one sadly hung up his saddle. On Saturday 25th April when AP McCoy had his final ride of his career at Sandown is was yet again the ‘At the Races Handicap’ here set the stage for another progressive winner to fly the flag for Ripon. Last season the race was won by ‘Angel Gabrial’ who then went on to win the Northumberland Plate before running in some highly competitive races. This season it was Ed Dunlop’s ‘Trip to Paris’, who won feature race on our Saturday meeting in April before going onto win the Chester Cup before being supplemented in the Ascot Gold Cup and winning an impressive race against some of the country’s top horses. Ed Dunlop has not hidden his desire to take the horse to run in the Melbourne Cup in November. We shall certainly all be keeping a close eye on that race over the winter.
It was also pleasing to see the winner of the William Hill Great St Wilfrid making the headlines last Saturday, as ‘Don’t Touch’ won the Ayr Gold Cu following his win here in August. It was a day to remember for owners Nicholas Wrigley & Kevin Hart. The owners had all four of their horses in training with Richard Fahey running at Ayr, with three of the four horses winning in quick succession. It was ‘Innocent Touch’ that saved the bookmakers from a VERY large pay-out after already landing a 314/1 treble with his three winners!
We hit the headlines again two weeks later with a visit from former Olympic Gold Medallist Victoria Pendleton making her competitive racing debut! Victoria who is working closely with Betfair as part of her #SwitchingSaddles quest to ride in the Foxhunter’s at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival, targeting the Betfair Novices Amateur race here on our Bank Holiday meeting.
Victoria’s visit attracted media from all corners of the country and she certainly showed them she was worth travelling for with a fantastic thrilling finish to come second being Tom Greenwood who took home his first winner.
Richard Fahey was once again crowned leading trainer at Ripon this season, taking back his crown from last year’s winner David O’Meara. Our top jockey accolade went to David Allan after a fantastic season in the saddle here with a 18% win strike rate. Close behind him is Graham Lee who has been remarkable when teaming up with Paul Midgley who has picked up some of our top handicap. One race to remember this season is the David Chapman Memorial Handicap which saw Silvanus winning beating the Mrs Chapman owned Lexington Place for the second year in a row!
We finished the season off with our Theakstons Pop-Up Beer Festival on Saturday 26th September with live music by local musician Lewis Fieldhouse. The meeting also saw the introduction of our new big screen and portable screen from specialists Media Point. The large investment is just one of many initiatives over the past few years that have been introduced to improve our racegoers experience. Since introducing our own betting operators Ripon Bet back in 2013, it enables us to re-invest back into the racecourse, giving something back to the paying punters.
It was great to end the season with our staff end of season BBQ, It’s great to be able to thank them for all their hard work throughout the season. We couldn’t have got through 16 days racing without them!
It has been a tough year for us in regards to the weather. Two of our fixtures that benefited with additional theming’s, Blues Brothers Evening and our Alice in Wonderland day have been tainted by horrific wind and rain! We are extremely pleased that after such a battle with the elements we have retained 99.4% of our 2014 attendance.
We are thrilled to have our 2016 fixture dates much earlier than in previous years and we have plenty of work getting plans in place for yet another fantastic season of racing at Yorkshire’s Garden Racecourse.