As the National Hunt season looms I thought it would be a good time to do another feature on my local track which is of course Uttoxeter as they look ahead to an action packed winter. I once again caught up with the Executive Director of the course David MacDonald to get his lowdown on what we can expect to see at the track throughout the upcoming season.
1.) Congratulations on another fantastic summer at Uttoxeter, what was your highlight?
From a racing perspective it has to be Andrew Thornton riding a winner at his very last meeting. The scenes in the parade ring were amazing and I think Andrew was really touched by the warmth from Jockeys and punters alike. Andrew has been a big friend of the racecourse over the last few years and we were moved when he decided to finish his riding career at Uttoxeter.
2.) As the National Hunt season is upon us what can race fans look forward too at Uttoxeter?
I am really excited about the next 12 months. We are busy in the planning stages at the moment but it is my intention to improve the prizemoney on Midlands National day considerably. Not only for the big race but also the shoulder races. It is vital that we protect and develop this jewel in the Staffordshire calendar. Also look out for a new February Hurdle raceday and some significant investment in key races in May/June and July. On the entertainment front I can promise the best year ever at Uttoxeter. The biggest band we have ever had are close to signing for the May live music fixture and we have some great new themes including our Winter Ladies Day which should be fun.
3.) Aside from the racing are there any particular events at the course throughout the winter?
Regarding this winter we are looking forward to the November 17th Beer Festival Raceday which always attracts a crowd close to 10,000 and of course our Christmas Party Raceday and New Years Eve raceday-All massive days in the calendar.
4.) What’s your favourite meeting at Uttoxeter throughout the National Hunt Season?
I would love to say The Midlands National was my favourite day but the big days are a huge responsibility for any racecourse executive and the main priority is delivering a quality and SAFE day for the punters so whilst it is very satisfying it is probably too full on to choose as the most enjoyable! I really enjoy the Family Funday’s when the sun shines. It gives me a buzz when you can see thousands of families choosing racing for their weekend entertainment and if you make thousands of families happy then that is a very nice feeling.
5.) Cheltenham Festival or Aintree Grand National Meeting?
As you might be aware I had a connection to 2004 Grand National winner Amberleigh House as I was working with owner John Halewood at the time. There is also a strong Aintree/Uttoxeter connection because of Lord Gyllene. As a punter I would say Grand National day wins it for me as the best DAY but as a festival of racing I think Cheltenham gets the nod every time.
As ever, i’d like to thank David for his time and wish and him and the team at Uttoxeter every success for the upcoming National Hunt Season.