THE first running of a major new race meeting has been hailed a success on an emotional day at Uttoxeter Racecourse.
The John Smith’s Summer Cup was billed as Uttoxeter’s answer to the Cheltenham Gold Cup and saw a day packed full of thrilling racing.
The feature race itself mirrored the distance of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, at three miles and two furlongs.
The event replaced the English Summer National and attracted a strong field of horses from some of the country’s top trainers.
The main race was won in spectacular style by Emmaslegend in a bold front-running display in which she triumphed by 19 lengths.
However, it was also a poignant day for the course as racegoers fell silent as a mark of respect for much-loved friends of the racecourse.
Lisa Oldham, who died recently following a fire at her home and whose family has strong connections to Uttoxeter racecourse.
The silence was also held for jockey Campbell Gillies who died recently in a swimming accident while on holiday in Kavos, Greece. Gillies won the Midlands Grand National at the course on Russian Trigger in 2009.
David MacDonald, executive director of Uttoxeter Racecourse told the Advertiser he was delighted at the first summer cup.
He said: “I was really pleased. It was lovely crowd who were very knowledgeable a real racing crowd and the atmosphere was fantastic.
“We also had the sunshine which was great and the ground was in great condition. We also really had some fantastic racing.
“The actual summer cup was fantastic.
Emmaslegend went strong out and all the horses caught up and you thought she was running out of puff but off she went again.
“There are things we are going to try and change for next year. We want to change to a Saturday as I think that will help with regards to train travel.
“We are looking to build this up now it’s up and running. If we had a five-year plan by year five we would want it to be televised.” The sport’s governing body the British Horseracing Authority has given its full backing to the new race, which the racecourse believes will quickly become as popular as the Midlands Grand National.
John Smith’s has previously sponsored the Midlands National at Uttoxeter and was attracted to this new summer highlight.
The next race meeting at Uttoxeter Racecourse is Boogie Night on Tuesday with live entertainment and racing. Gates open at 4.30pm.