JUNE 21, 2019 – Cumbria’s very own Dianne Sayer is ready to stake her claim for horse racing’s most historic prize.
After a quarter of a century training winners from her stables at Hackthorpe, near Penrith, Sayer now has her sights set on success in the Carlisle Bell.
Thousands of racegoers will enjoy the annual pilgrimage to Carlisle Racecourse on Wednesday for the Bell and Cumberland Plate race day.
‘The Bells’ are the oldest sporting trophy still contested today and can be traced back to 1599 and the reign of Elizabeth I.
Forty-eight runners and riders are entered this year with all looking to emulate David O’Meara and Conor McGovern who took Waarif to the prize in 2018.
Another 40 are entered for the equally competitive Cumberland Plate. Both races offer prize money of £31,200.
With four wins from nine runners this season, Sayer is enjoying a fantastic 2019 at Carlisle. And she has entered no fewer than three challengers – Jackhammer, Redarna and The Navigator – into the Bell.
Sayer said: “This is a massive leap for us but every now and again you’ve got to be brave. We love going to Carlisle so there’s no place better to be getting a winner.”
Both Redarna and Jackhammer have brought Sayer double success at the track already this season.
Their trainer added: “We’ve been very lucky in that we’ve had two horses that have come to form this season. Redarna is a progressive little horse and hopefully he’s still progressing.
“Jackhammer is a horse we’ve had for a couple of years. He’d lost his way a little bit, but he seems to have turned the corner and be enjoying life again.
“All of our horses are familiar with running at Carlisle and have all run their best races there so it’s a good opportunity to bring them back to a track they enjoy.”
Fellow trainer Iain Jardine has Smugglers Creek entered in the Bell and he’s dreaming of adding the famous race to his haul.
Dumfriesshire-based Jardine said: “It’s a big day at a great course. I would love to win the race – you just need to have the right horse.”
Smugglers Creek was a winner last time out at Carlisle in May when leading home 10 rivals over seven furlongs.
Jardine added: “That’s a good distance for him as he’s fast and he stays.”
Tristan Davidson will be another Cumbrian trainer who will have lots of home support if his charge, Chingachgook, starts the Cumberland Plate.
The Irthington-based former milkman and point-to-pointer would also relish a crack at a big race in front of a huge crowd.
He said: “When you’ve a chance of having a go at this type of race you just have to go for it. Chingachgook’s going well, he won a hurdle for us at Musselburgh. We’ve prepared him with this in mind.”
Wednesday’s meeting also includes the Class 1 Listed EBF Eternal Stakes which offers the day’s biggest prize money of £40,000 and has attracted 13 entries.
Tickets for the Carlisle Bell and Cumberland Plate Day are £20 for adults if booked in advance (a saving of £5 compared to paying £25 on the day).
Under-18s get in free when accompanied by an adult. Gates open on Wednesday at noon, first race is 2pm and last race 5pm.