All-weather plans for Catterick get vital backing from trainers

PLANS to build an all-weather Flat track at Catterick have been given the backing – in principle – of trainers.

The National Trainers Federation believes the North Yorkshire track is better located than Newcastle for such a facility.

At present, Yorkshire trainers have to send their horses to Southwell, Wolverhampton, Lingfield or Kempton for all weather-racing.

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Regional chairman Tom Tate, who trains at Tadcaster, said: “High transport costs and poor prize-money make it uneconomic for us to run horses on the more southerly tracks.

“There’s no doubt we are suffering financially due to the lack of opportunities in the North. We therefore would very much welcome a northern all-weather track.

“Members were agreed that ideally the track should be located no further south than Wetherby, on the east side of the country and as near as possible to the A1 and the training centres of Middleham and Malton.”

Trainers are already concerned that the Arc, which runs Southwell, Wolverhampton and Lingfield, would have too much influence over prize money and the allocation of fixtures if its plans to build a floodlit track at Newcastle went ahead.

That said, the Catterick plan, formulated over the past 18 months by International Racecourse Management which runs the course, is contingent on the venue gaining sufficient fixtures to make its plan viable, including the installation of floodlights and prize money undertakings.

The most significant action today is set to come at Exeter where Big Buck’s is set to make a racecourse gallop as the quadruple winner of the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival begins his comeback from a tendon injury.

If Big Buck’s, the winner of 18 consecutive races before injury struck, comes through today’s test unscathed, trainer Paul Nicholls wants his stable star to make a competitive comeback in next month’s Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Meanwhile, Hennessy hero Triolo D’Alene is in line to run in the Mappin & Webb Silver Cup Handicap Chase at Ascot on Saturday, even though he will be burdened by top weight.

The six-year-old has been on a steep upward curve of late, winning three of his last four races with the historic Newbury feature highlighting that sequence. Trainer Nicky Henderson, who enjoyed a treble at Newbury yesterday, is in a bullish frame of mind. “He just wouldn’t want to go in very, very soft ground,” he said.

However, Sire De Grugy is set to skip a showdown with Henderson’s Sprinter Sacre at Kempton over Christmas and is more likely to have his next race at Ascot in January.

Trainer Gary Moore has named the Clarence House Chase (formerly the Victor Chandler) on January 18 as the next probable port of call for his Tingle Creek Chase winner who was ridden by his son Jamie.