A very warm welcome to Huntingdon Racecourse for our opening fixture of 2019. I trust that all our racegoers enjoyed a wonderful Christmas and New Year holiday.
After the success of our Boxing Day meeting, which attracted a large attendance, we are now set for the exciting jump racing that our racecourse stages in the early months of the year.
This is my first meeting as Chairman, a position to which I am delighted to have been asked to fill by The Jockey Club. As a passionate follower of jump racing, as a one-time amateur rider and now an enthusiastic racehorse owner, I am thrilled to take on this role and I am looking forward to meeting many of our racegoers during my time in office.
Today I would like to pay tribute to the enormous contribution made by my predecessor Paul Taiano over nine years as Chairman and 24 years on the Committee of the racecourse. We have also said farewell to Joey Newton who has also been a most valued member of the Committee.
I am very pleased to welcome as new members of the Committee both Jane Wallace, a most experienced horse woman and a former Olympic selector, and Philip Would, who brings extensive business experience in the field of investing in infrastructure projects.
The racecourse has an excellent executive team, led by General Manager Liam Johnson. Every member of the team plays their part in making the racecourse a positive and friendly place for all visitors. The racecourse is in a good place at the moment and that was reflected in the award by the Racegoers Club last year of the title of ‘best small racecourse in the Midlands’.
Huntingdon enjoys the considerable benefits of being part of The Jockey Club which has made significant investments over the years. The venue is also very much a key player in the local community and makes a valuable contribution to the economy as part of the business community.
As for today, our first major race of 2019 is the Listed £25,000 Weatherbys Chatteris Fen Juvenile Hurdle. The two-mile contest has attracted many stars of the future over the years, including the 2016 winner Sceau Royal who has gone to become a top-class horse and is set to contest the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
I hope that all our visitors enjoy an excellent afternoon of racing with us.