ONE of the "most genuine racehorses the north of England has ever seen" will be among the star attractions as the Middleham Stables Open Day celebrates its 21st birthday on Good Friday.
Almaty Express will be paraded at John Weymes' Ashgill Stables at 11am and 12.45pm as the town's yards once again open up to allow the public behind the scenes.
Bought for less than £4,000 after a Catterick seller ten years ago, Almaty Express won 22 of his 143 starts and finished in the first three in a third of his races. A star of the all-weather, he is now in retirement.
His appearance will be one of the highlights as 15 stables open up. With Good Friday racing taking place for the first time, the afternoon's action will be shown live on a big screen in Middleham Market Square from 1.45pm.
Last year’s event raised more than £12,000 despite bad weather and organisers hope to raise even more for this year’s many charities, including the Yorkshire Air Ambulance and the Household Cavalry Foundation.
Robert Beaumont, one of the event's organisers, said: "Last year was hit by terrible weather, with Easter being much earlier than usual. We are hoping for a much milder and warmer day this year to help make the Open day a great success.
“With 15 stables open, containing some of the best racehorses in the north of England, this year will be one of the biggest and the best in the Open Day’s history. As we are celebrating our 21st anniversary, there is every cause for celebration.”
James Bethell, the chairman of the Middleham Trainers Association, said: “The traditional date for the Stables Open Day had been threatened with the introduction of Good Friday racing this year.
"However, with the support of Betfair and the Arena Racing Company, who are arranging the live screening of racing from Lingfield and Musselburgh, we are preparing for one of the most enjoyable Open Days of recent years."
Jim Allen, the director of Arena Racing, added: “We understand that the changes to the racing calendar were controversial to some in racing but we are very pleased to show our support to the Middleham Open Day by ensuring visitors have the opportunity to enjoy the day’s racing as well as making the most of the many attractions on offer."
Tickets cost £10 per adult, including a souvenir brochure and a chance to win a prize in the programme draw, which includes a signed photograph of top jockey and the 2010 BBC Sports Personality of the Year A P McCoy. Admission for accompanied children under 12 is free.
The yards are open to the public on Good Friday from 9.30am until either 1pm or 2pm depending on its location.
Free parking is available in Middleham or nearby Leyburn, with free bus links between car parks and the outlying stables.
This includes Ann and George Duffield are opening their successful Sun Hill Stables at Constable Burton from 9.30am until 4.30pm.
For more details, visit www.middlehamstablesopenday.co.uk or call 01969 624411.
Central stables: 9.30am until 1pm: Chris Fairhurst, Micky Hammond, Ben Haslam, Mark Johnston, Phil Kirby, George Moore and Jason Ward.
Outlying stables: 9.30am until 2pm: James Bethell, Karl Burke (closing at 1pm), Andy Crook, Patrick Holmes, Ann and George Duffield (until 4.30pm), Jedd O’Keeffe, John Weymes and Noel Wilson.