Following the drought of 2022 and losing our season opener and mid-season fixture due to Firm ground, it was good to finally get racing on November 5th, in what proved to be yet more challenging conditions owing to the drought, thankfully sanding the bends allowed Knappers Hill and Frodon kept the show on track!
As part of the newly formed “West Country Weekend” featuring the Haldon Gold Cup on Friday and Badger Beers Chase on Saturday, this was a fantastic weekend of racing for the West Country worth £445,000 in total prize money. Frodon was undoubtably a popular people’s winner on a weekend that will go from strength to strength moving forward.
Mid November saw Stormin Crossgales for Tom George take the Novices’ Chase in style as well as No No Tonic beginning his winter campaign taking this the first of two wins this season at Wincanton for the Milton Harris Team. Fog threatened the first December fixture but those on site would have seen Annie Magic to an enjoyable win for Jeremy Scott when ground had finally turned to Good to Soft after most welcomed rainfall.
Frost paused proceedings shortly in December, and cancelled our two late January fixtures, unfortunately losing the popular Somerset National Day to the elements, but thankfully Boxing Day was fine and dry with No No Tonic returning to the podium, and Harlem Sole winning his third Wincanton race in front of the festive crowd for local trainer Syd Hosie.
Early January sees ITV cameras return to Wincanton for the Virgin Bet sponsored raceday worth £107,000 total prize money. The Tizzard Team came to success with Elixir De Nutz taking the Class 2 Handicap Chase, and Poncho was one to add to the tracker for the Gary Moore Stables.
Early February saw Famous Clermont for Chris Barber take the Open Hunter’s Chase ahead of a successful campaign in the Spring, earning the local team a win in the Class 3 Walrus at Haydock and Class 2 Foxhunters at Aintree. As the temperatures improved, Kingwell Hurdle Day was our chance to see some Cheltenham Festival contenders and the day did not disappoint, with I Like to Move it beating fancied festival contenders First Street and Knappers Hill in a thrilling 2m contests.
Onto Spring and Outlaw Peter was a 4/9 favourite taking the first race of a quiet raceday in early March, following another dry period whereby ground became difficult to keep on the slow side of Good. Olive Nicholls had her first career-win at Wincanton on March 1st in the Open Hunter’s Chase. Wincanton swiftly moved into its late March fixtures and the popular Veterans Chase was won by ten-year-old Hotel Du Nord for Kieran Burke in the £14,000 contest.
Family Fun Day was a sunny occasion, but unfortunately Charlie O’Shea couldn’t complete the Military Hurdle for a second year running after his saddle slipped when in contention. The race was won by Fame and Fun for Lbdr Jody Sole in what was another thrilling contest to close the season.