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Salisbury Racecourse's new season off to a family day start - with an added touch of history

Salisbury Racecourse's new Flat racing season starts on Sunday (April 28) with the seven race card of the Byerley Stud Season Opener and Family Day.


They have received 199 entries - with declarations due on Friday.  The feature race of the day is the Byerley Stud ‘City Bowl’ Handicap Stakes - a £22,500 race over 1 mile & 6 furlongs.  The City Bowl is one of the oldest races staged anywhere in the United Kingdom. 


Racing aside, there will be a full complement of children's fairgound entertainments - including a Crazy Creatures tent - all free of charge.  Members of the team were out in Salisbury city centre on Saturday handing out balloons advertising the Family Day.


This is the first of Salisbury's sixteen meetings - with prize money totalling £1,270,000 for the season.   


Over the winter it was the turn of the stables to get the full refurbishment treatment.  One innovation for this season will be the addition of a second big screen situated opposite the parade ring for ten of the sixteen meetings - including the Opener.


All is ready for the 'off'.  Jeremy Martin is Salisbury Racecourse's Chief Executive and Clerk of the Course: "We're all set  - hopefully we'll have a another decent season with good entries of two-year-olds - and older horses. The track is in good order - and fast."


When visited the racecourse on Tuesday (April 23), the going was 'Good to firm, firm in places'.  With rain expected before Sunday, Jeremy Martin's ground team may not be called on to water the course.


For last year's opener the weather was cold and the going was heavy: "I'll be much happier starting on fast ground - it'll protect the turf."


The course's extension loop has been repaired following last year's infestation by chafer grubs - quickly followed by hungry badgers eagerly digging them up.  Between the destructive habits of grubs and badgers, the turf became unsafe to race on.  One meeting was lost and for two more meetings racing was restricted to the straight mile.


Mill Reef's winning debut at Salisbury, 13 May 1970 - from the Jim Beavis book   Mill Reef's winning debut at Salisbury, 13 May 1970 - from the Jim Beavis book The opening of Salisbury's new Flat season also sees the publication of a history of the racecourse.  The book by racing historian Jim Beavis has been two years in the making.


Jeremy Martin: "Jim has written successful books about several other racecourses.  When he suggested writing one for us we said 'Yes please' - after all we've got 435 years of history!"


The book includes many of Salisbury's most notable races, characters, stories and scandals. And it has a great selection of photographs with many from the archives.


Byerley Stud Season Opener and Family Day:  gates open 12 noon - first race 2pm. 


Accompanied children aged 17 and under get in free.   You can book tickets here - and, from Monday, April 29, buy a copy of Jim Beavis' book.


Ready for racing... Ready for racing...


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