Premier Raceday Time Again at Plumpton

Features | 28th March 2024

Plumpton’s Easter Sunday fixture has Premier Raceday status and promises to be a popular day out at the East Sussex track

Premier Prizemoney

The £75,000 BetGoodwin Sussex Champion Hurdle is the feature contest on a competitive seven-race card with £200,000 in prize money up for grabs.

It has attracted entries from the top stables in the land. Paul Nicholls, Nicky Henderson and Dan Skelton all look set to have runners at a Premier Raceday fixture.

Course regulars Gary Moore and Chris Gordon will also be among the trainers well represented if the entries are anything to go by.

The Sussex Champion Hurdle is shaping up to be a cracking contest with Afadil, Doyen Quest and Knickerbockerglory all possible contenders.

Recent Fakenham winner Tapley – trained by locally-based Suzy Smith and owned by enthusiastic syndicate The Plumpton Party – is another notable entry.

The Sunday card forms the first day of Plumpton’s big two-day Easter meeting. The fun continues into Easter Monday when the Bob Champion Cancer Trust Sussex Champion Chase is the feature race.

There will be some fantastic family entertainment, including a funfair, facepainting, dinosaur attractions and donkey rides, on both days.

Plumpton In The Spotlight

It’s the second time the Premier Raceday spotlight has shone on Plumpton. It held the first of the initiative’s Sunday fixtures in January when Dom Of Mary ran out an impressive winner of the Sussex National.

It was the latest in a string of notable landmarks to occur at Plumpton. 

Sir AP McCoy rode his 3,000th winner at the course when Restless D’Artaix landed a beginners’ chase in 2009.

At the other end of the career spectrum, Bob Champion rode his very first winner on Altercation at Plumpton in 1968. He, famously, went on to ride Aldaniti to Grand National glory in 1981 having overcome cancer.

Another high-profile rider – perhaps the most famous amateur jockey of all – took part in the Mad Hatters private sweepstake at the track in 1980.

Prince Charles, now King Charles III, rode Long Wharf in the race but he had to settle for second place behind TV presenter Derek Thompson on Grand National regular Classified.

Rich Racing History

The race added to the rich history of Plumpton Racecourse, that goes back 140 years.

The track was created on the site where organised hare coursing had taken place. It was handily positioned next to the Haywards Heath to Lewes railway line that had been opened 37 years earlier.

Plumpton station is just a short walk from the grandstands and offers racegoers a convenient form of transport to this day, just as it did at the first meeting held in February 1884.

It’s a sharp, undulating, left-hand track with two fences in the straight and a rather short run-in to the finish line. 

Over the years, it has developed several course specialists but none more prolific than Manhattan Boy.

He recorded 14 victories at Plumpton during the late 1980s and early 90s, with five of those wins coming in the Peacehaven Selling Hurdle. In all, he ran an astonishing 64 times at the track.

Lewes was once a major training centre. John Gosden’s father Towser was among those to send out big-race winners from stables in the town.

The racecourse at Lewes closed in 1964 but Plumpton is still going strong as its Premier Raceday Easter fixture will show – loud and clear.

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