UTTOXETER had the eyes of the racing world firmly fixed on its glorious racecourse as it held the biggest event of its calendar at the weekend.
The population of the town almost doubled as the Betfred Midlands National took place and it proved particularly memorable for a couple with a real emotional tie to Uttoxeter Racecourse.
The winner of the big race, the David Pipe-trained 6-1 shot Big Occasion, had a local connection, with one of the owners of the horse, Josh Apiafi, having met his now wife Abby at Uttoxeter Racecourse many years ago.
Former amateur jockey Mr Apiafi told the Advertiser he was introduced to Abby at a Uttoxeter race meeting when he was working for Betfair and his now wife was working for Northern Racing.
He said: “My last race as an amateur jockey was in 1995 at Uttoxeter.
“I was introduced to Abby by Rod Street, the then general manager at Uttoxeter.
“There are so many connections for us to Uttoxeter and we still know a lot of the team from when Abby worked there.
“We could not have picked another race that meant as much to us to win to be honest.”
The couple have two children together and trainer David Pipe was best man at their wedding.
Uttoxeter Racecourse executive director David MacDonald said he was delighted with how the 2013 event went and with the ‘excellent’ TV coverage the event received from Channel Four, as well as the reaction to the recent £350,000 refurbishment.
He said: “It was really, really great. The trains worked really well and there was no issue with packed platforms at the end like there has been in the past.
“There were no queue’s at the bar and all the food went down well, although we could have done without the rain after the Midlands National.
“The new staff did fantastically well and everyone said the course looked really tidy.
“I have to say the Channel Four coverage was the best yet as well.
“There were more cameras than we had ever had before and there were some really great shots of the grandstand and of the town itself.
“What was so lovely was to see, with all the rain and heavy ground, that there were still six horses coming down the last and there were no serious injuries.”
Uttoxeter Police confirmed no arrests were made at the event.