The nation’s leading jockeys are heading to Carlisle on Thursday as Cumbria’s premier racecourse pays tribute to local training talent.
Four-time champion jockey Richard Johnson joins Bryan Hughes and Sam Twiston-Davies with multiple entries at Carlisle’s second jumps meeting of the season.
The trio – who lead The Jump Jockeys Championship – have more than 180 winners between them this season with Johnson narrowly edging Hughes in the race for the title.
All have rides in the opening race, the Maurice Barnes Racing Novices’ Hurdle – the first of seven races named in honour of trainers based in Cumbria and the Borders. Dianne Sayer, James Ewart, Nicky Richards, Barry Murtagh and Lisa Harrison are the other trainers celebrated.
Johnson rides Overthetop for Olly Murphy in the 2m 4f hurdle. The five-year-old won on good ground in April but will have to contend with softer conditions this time out.
Hughes rides the untested New Frontier for Keith Dalgleish while Twiston-Davies – last season’s top jockey at Carlisle – rides Champagne Noir, for Charlie Longstaff, on what will be the five-year-old’s first outing since December.
Johnson, Hughes and Twiston-Davies all have runners in the second race, the mouth-watering Dianne Sayer Racing Beginners’ Chase.
Johnson rides Brewin’upastorm for Olly Murphy. The six-year-old is making his first appearance since finishing second at the Betway Novices Chase at Aintree in March and placing fourth in the (Grade 1) Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.
Twiston-Davies will be in the saddle again as Good Boy Bobby looks to continue a rich vein of form which has seen this popular six-year-old win six from eight races, including a win over two miles at Carlisle last October.
Hughes will be looking to continue The Some Dance Kid’s own hot streak as the pair go for a fourth straight win for trainer Donald McCain.
Another horse and jockey combination looking to return to Carlisle’s Winners Enclosure is Attention Seaker and Lee Cosgrove.
Cosgrove celebrated his first ever win as Tim Easterby’s experienced nine-year-old mare stormed home to win by 11 lengths in last week’s 2m Introducing Racing TV Handicap
They go again in the 2m 1f James Ewart Racing Handicap Hurdle where they will go head-to-head with Iolani and Danny McMenamin who also won over the same distance at Carlisle last week.
Grand National-winning trainer Lucinda Russell, who saddled Methodtothemadness to a 9/2 win a week ago, returns with four runners including Mint Gold – a 50/1 winner at Carlisle in February – in the 3m 2f Nicky Richards Racing Handicap Chase.
Russell’s’ other runners are Order Of Thistle, who won at Sedgefield earlier this month, Buddha Scheme, a 40/1 winner at Hexham three weeks ago, and the ever-popular Ryalex, a winner at Carlisle last November.
Molly Dingwall, general manager at Carlisle Racecourse, said: “We have another bumper day of jumps racing in prospect.
“Together with the strong fields, which feature many horses and jockeys who have enjoyed great success here in the last 12 months, we are delighted to be able to honour many local trainers.
“All give Carlisle Racecourse such great support throughout the year and paying tribute in this way is the very least we can do.
“Many have runners here on Thursday and I wish them all the very best and hopefully we will see them in the Winners Enclosure.”
Gates open on Thursday at 11.50pm. The first race goes off at 1.50pm and the last race is at 5.10pm. For more information and tickets go to thejockeyclub.co.uk/carlisle. Under 18s get in free when accompanied by a paying adult.