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Mar 31, 2017

Newton Abbot Season Opener preview

Newton Abbot opens its doors for a new jumps season this Tuesday, hosting the first of 18 fixtures stretching through the summer and finishing on Friday 13 October.

Paul Nicholls continues to be the leading trainer at the course, topping last season’s table with ten winners at a strike rate of 29%, a domination which has seen him notch up a total of 41 successes over the last five years.

Nicholls is seeking his eleventh trainers’ title in the current season which ends in April, but faces stiff competition from Lambourn-based Nicky Henderson who, after a successful Cheltenham Festival, overtook his rival at the head of the table.

Top jockey at Newton Abbot last year was Sam Twiston-Davies, who rides as number one to the powerful Nicholls’ yard, with nine winners at a strike rate of 26%. He finished ahead of Richard Johnson, who had only four wins in a quiet season at the track.

Johnson, whose partnership with Somerset-based trainer Philip Hobbs is one of the longest in racing, finished runner-up to Sir Anthony McCoy on no less than 16 occasions but, with the multiple champion retiring, deservedly took the jockeys’ crown in 2016. With an unassailable lead in this year’s title race, Johnson will be going flat out over the summer as he seeks a hat-trick of championships.

Most prolific winner at the course last summer was the mare Midnight Sapphire, owned by Rod Harding and trained near Barnstaple by Victor Dartnall, with three wins from five starts.

Highlight of the opening day’s card is the Class 2 Frank Loosemore Memorial Handicap Chase over two miles, won last year by Ut Majeur Aulmes, ridden by conditional jockey David Prichard, who beat the Nicholls-trained Ulck Du Lin by two lengths.

Gates will open on Tuesday at 12.20pm, two hours before the first race, which is the SIS Mares´ Maiden Hurdle.

SEASON OPENER OFFER – for one fixture only on Tuesday 4 April, Newton Abbot Racecourse will be operating a one-price admission for just £15, giving racegoers the chance to enjoy a day in the Paddock Enclosure for less.

Following repairs to the Grandstand roof over the winter, the Course Enclosure has unfortunately experienced a flood which has left the Course Enclosure Betting Hall out of action in the short term. Despite best efforts, these repairs will not be completed in time for the first fixture – the Season Opener on Tuesday 4 April. As a result on Tuesday 4 April only the racecourse is offering all racegoers the opportunity to enjoy a day in the Paddock Enclosure for just £15