Century-seeking Fahey and Watson looking for success at Thirsk’s first fixture of 2019

Thirsk Racecourse opens its doors this Saturday, April 13, for the first of its 16 fixtures, with an eight-race card running from 2.00pm through to 5.55pm and one trainer about to make history.
Richard Fahey, who is based at Musley Bank, Malton, has saddled 99 winners at Thirsk since he started training in 1993 and has five chances of reaching his landmark century at the course on Saturday.
These include two-year-old Pastoral Pursuits colt Ventura Rebel (Paul Hanagan), who is owned by a Middleham Park Racing syndicate and makes his debut in division two of the five-furlong British EBF Maiden (2.30pm, 11 runners).
Fahey said: “It would be very special to record our 100th winner at Thirsk on Saturday.
“Thirsk is a very fair track and we have run a lot of horses there over the years, having plenty of success.
“We have five runners on Saturday. Ventura Rebel is a two-year-old who has pleased us at home and he is quite forward.”
Fahey has been the leading trainer at Thirsk in each of the past five years. His other runners on Saturday are:
Kidda 2.00pm British EBF Maiden (Div I)
Cameo Star 3.05pm Debbie Stephenson Birthday Celebration Handicap
Coolagh Magic 4.15pm Racing TV Home Of British & Irish Racing Handicap
Danehill Desert 5.55pm Book Online For Best Ticket Prices @thirskraces Handicap
A trainer who has hit the ground running with two-year-olds in 2019 is Upper Lambourn-based Archie Watson, who has already saddled three juvenile winners from just five runners.
Watson is represented at Thirsk on Saturday by Baileys Freedom (Edward Greatrex), who also goes in division two of the British EBF Maiden. The Baileys Horse Feeds-owned colt is from the first crop of 2015 champion sprinter Muhaarar and finished sixth on debut at Musselburgh on April 2.
Watson said: “Baileys Freedom was very green up at Musselburgh, when he wasn’t drawn very well. He just could have done with another horse on his outside and he might have gone a lot closer.
“That was only his first run and he will come on a lot for it. It was a good experience and hopefully there is more to come.
“Thirsk is a very straightforward track and I am sure he will take a big step forward in the race.”
Saturday’s programme is headlined by the £15,000 EBFstallions.com Michael Foster Conditions Race (4.50pm, six runners), staged over seven furlongs for horses aged four and above.
The contest, run over a furlong shorter prior to 2012, boasts a fine roll of honour, with previous winners including Pipalong (2000) and Markab (2010), who both went on to capture the G1 Haydock Sprint Cup later the same year. Breton Rock took the spoils in 2014 and has since gained three victories at G2 level.
This year’s starters are headed by the 107-rated Muntadab (Roger Fell/Graham Lee), who won a trio of competitive handicaps in 2018 before rounding off the campaign by taking second in the Listed Ben Marshall Stakes at Newmarket in November.
So Beloved (David O’Meara/David Nolan), a G3 winner in 2015, was second in G2 company last year, while six-year-old Flying Pursuit (Tim Easterby/Rachel Richardson) was runner-up in the valuable Coral Sprint at York in 2018 and tackles seven furlongs for just the second time in his career.
Other contenders include Aeolus (Ruth Carr/James Sullivan), who captured the 2015 G3 Chipchase Stakes at Newcastle, and the Khalid Abdullah-owned Vanbrugh (Charlie Hills/Dane O’Neill), who was Listed-placed in France last season for Andre Fabre and makes a first start for his current trainer.
There are two other £15,000 contests on Saturday’s card – the Scouting For Girls @Thirskraces Friday 16th August Handicap (3.40pm, 10 runners) over a mile and a half and the Racing TV Home Of British & Irish Racing Handicap Stakes (4.15pm, 10 runners) over five furlongs, in which Richard Fahey has another chance of reaching his Thirsk century with Coolagh Magic (Paul Hanagan), a dual winner on the All-Weather over the winter.
The going at Thirsk is currently Good, Good to Firm in places.
Conditions are forecast to be cloudy with sunny spells through to Saturday. It is predicted to rather cool, with mostly light winds.
All accompanied children aged under 18 gain free entry to Saturday’s meeting. There is availability for all three enclosures, the Premier Enclosure, the Paddock Enclosure and the Family Enclosure, with booking in advance offered online and tickets available at the entrances. Free parking is offered and the racecourse is less than a mile from Thirsk Station, from where a free shuttle-bus operates.
All the information needed by new and existing racegoers can be found on the racecourse’s official website - www.thirskracecourse.net - where tickets can be bought, along with many special packages.
2019 Thirsk Racecourse Fixtures
Saturday 13th April - Opening Raceday – 11:00am gates open/2:00pm first race/5:25pm final race
Monday evening, 29th April - Evening Racing – 3:00pm/5:05pm/8:10p
Saturday 4th May - Cliff Stud Thirsk Hunt Cup Raceday – 11:00am/2:00pm/5:25pm
Saturday evening 11th May - Charity Evening Racing in support of the ABF, the Soldiers’ charity – 3:30pm/5:40pm/8:45pm
Saturday 18th May - Irish Raceday – 11:00am/2:10pm/ 5:40pm
Monday 3rd June - Afternoon Raceday – 11:30am/2:15pm/5:15pm
Tuesday evening 11th June - Evening Racing – 3:30pm/5:50pm/8:50pm
Tuesday 18th June - Afternoon Raceday featuring Royal Ascot – 11:30am/2:10pm/ 5:45pm
Wednesday 3rd July - Afternoon Raceday – 11:30am/2:10pm/5:10pm
Friday 26th July - Go Racing in Yorkshire Summer Festival Raceday – 11:30am/2:10pm/5:40pm
Saturday 3rd August - William Hill Thirsk Summer Cup Raceday – 11:00am/1:45pm/5:10pm
Friday 9th August - James Herriot ‘All Creatures Great & Small’ Family Raceday – 11:30am/ 1:50pm/4:50pm
Friday evening 16th August - Racing & Scouting for Girls play after Evening Racing – 3:00pm/4:55pm/8:05pm
Friday 30th August - Pirates Family Day  Raceday – 11:30am/1:30pm/5:15pm
Saturday 7th September - Ladies’ Raceday – 11:00am/2:00pm/5:30pm
Monday 16th September - Season Finale Raceday – 11:30am/2:00pm/5:30pm
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