The Heart of England Two Day Meeting gets the new jumps season underway at Warwick next Monday and Tuesday, as the course hosts a total of 19 meetings running through the winter and climaxing with Celebration Race Night, the final day of the May Racing Carnival, writes David Hucker.
Located close to the town centre, Warwick is steeped in racing history, having begun in 1707, over 100 years before Cheltenham in 1818 and Aintree in 1829. It was the first course to stage hurdle races and, now, its past has been chronicled in a new book by historian Chris Pitt called Chandler's Leap.
The Classic Chase Day in January and February's Kingmaker Chase will again be the racing highlights of the winter months, with the May Racing Carnival gaining in popularity year-by-year. Since becoming an all-jumps track, crowds have risen every year at the course, with a sell-out expected for the New Year's Eve meeting which attracted over 6,700 people in 2018.
The Racing TV Grand Season Opener kicks off events on Monday when the gates open at 12.10pm, two hours before the first race. Subscribers to the dedicated racing channel will enjoy free entry to the course, together with an exclusive Racing TV VIP suite serving complimentary tea and coffee, plus a pre-race tipster talk.
Tuesday sees the first Food and Drink Warwickshire Raceday when racegoers can enjoy the flavours of Warwickshire's finest small and emerging food and drink producers, as well as cooking demonstrations from leading local chefs, including Michelin-starred Adam Bennett, who has been chef director at The Cross in Kenilworth for six years.
“We pride ourselves on the standard of food and drink we provide on race days, but playing host to the Warwickshire Food and Drink Showcase will add some real variety” said racecourse manager Andre Klein.
“We have just spent our summer curating a range of menus for the coming season, where local and seasonal produce is at the heart of every course. Kicking off our season with one of Warwick’s best local producer is a real celebration of our menus and the culinary racecourse experience here at Warwick Racecourse.”
The Showcase, hosted by Warwickshire County Council, will be open from 1.00pm with the first race due off at 2.10pm.
For regular racegoers, there will be three membership offers for the season with different levels of benefits, with the Coronation Club, the premium level, limited to just 36 people.
Warwickshire trainers Dan Skelton, who finished last season with 205 winners, and Olly Murphy will again have a following during the season and racegoers could well see one of the stars from Murphy's Wilmcote stable at the track next month.
Murphy has high hopes for the six year-old Brewin’upastorm, who finished fourth at the Cheltenham Festival before filling the runner-up spot at Aintree. He had a wind operation over the summer as Murphy felt he wasn't seeing out longer trips and will now tackle fences, with a race at Warwick on the agenda.