All roads lead to Wincanton Racecourse on Saturday when Somerset’s showpiece race, the Bathwick Tyres Kingwell Hurdle, takes place.
The race has a long history and was first run in 1971 and awarded Grade 2 status in 1991. It is regarded as a valuable indicator to the Stan James Champion Hurdle at March’s Cheltenham Festival and several horses have won both races in the same year, the most recent was Katchit 2008.
Eight entries have been received for the valuable £60,000 race with last year’s scintillating winner, Irving, among them. Nick Scholfield has ridden the Paul Nicholls-trained eight-year-old to seven wins and will be on board again on Saturday. Also entered is West Country favourite Melodic Rendezvous who won the race in 2014. Jeremy Scott trains him on Exmoor and his gutsy performances have earned him a legion of fans.
Nick Scholfield said: “I’ve been lucky enough to win the race on both Irving and Melodic Rendezvous. Wincanton is my local racecourse and one of my favourites and I always enjoy riding there and, fingers crossed, I’ll be on board the winner again this Saturday.”
Two horses could run carrying the colours of JP McManus with both entered in Cheltenham’s championship race. The five-year-old Hargam and the duel grade one winning My Tent or Yours, who has been off the track since finishing third in the QTS Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr in April 2014, could both be wearing McManus’s famous gold and green colours.
They are both trained by Nicky Henderson who has also entered Top Notch. His unbeaten run as a juvenile came to an end at the Festival when he was beaten a neck by Peace and Co in the JCB Triumph Hurdle.
Representing Evan Williams is Roadie Joe who finished second in the grade two Persian War Novices’ Chase in October having scored a hat trick of wins.
Oliver Sherwood could saddle Raayvin Black and Dan Skelton relies on Pain Au Chocolat who scored the easiest of wins at Newcastle earlier in the month in an extended two miles novices’ chase.
Terrific entries have been received for the Bathwick Tyres sponsored seven race card giving racegoers a mouthwatering day of jump racing action which begins at 1.40pm. Other highlights include the £20,000 added Bathwick Tyres Salisbury Handicap Chase which has received 14 entries and the Ben Wakeley National Hunt Novices’ Hurdle where 25 entries look sure to ensure a terrific race on the day.
Advance tickets start from £16 for the Grandstand Enclosure and £21 for Premier with a £2 increase on tickets purchased on the day.
A free bus will meet the London Waterloo train arriving at Templecombe Station at 11.25am and wait for the Exeter train arriving at 11.43am. The coach will leave the course twenty minutes after the last race.