Go North horse racing festival returns for a third year this weekend with races throughout region

  • Watch as Tim Backshall visits trainer Dianne Sayer ahead of the Go North Festival.

The Go North Festival is returning for a third year this weekend with horse races set to take place in Kelso and Carlisle.

The Racing Post horse racing festival will see races in Kelso on Saturday and in Carlisle on Sunday. Racing will also take place in Musselburgh on Friday.

Spread over the three race days are nine £30,000 contests which are the finals of the Go North Series plus the £50,000 BetVictor Herring Queen Series Final Mares' Novices' Handicap Hurdle at Kelso on Saturday.

Dianne Sayer has been a trainer at Hackthorpe for nearly 30 years and is a big supporter of the Go North Weekend festival.

The event was started by the British horse racing authority to boost prize money in the region and encourage the next generation of northern talent.

She said: "It's a very big weekend. We've got seven entries over the three days and it's something that we've worked to for probably the last six months really, because you've got to get two races qualified and that takes a little bit of getting in so it's a bit of a plan to get them there and get them right on the day.

"They're all £30,000 races so that means the winner walks away with around £15,000 so that's great prize money for the middle tier of horses so we try to capitalise on such a great idea."

Connor O'Farrell is a Carlisle-based jockey who is taking part in several races over the weekend.

He said: "The majority of trainers in the north like to target their horses around this weekend. It's very competitive because it's great prize money for that middle grade of horse.

"It makes for a very good weekend of racing."

Another trainer aiming for success at Carlisle is Northumberland-based Rose Dobbin, who will saddle Captain Quint in the Go North Monet's Garden Series Final Handicap Chase over two and a half miles.

Kelso race course will be having its race day on Saturday. Credit: PA

Dobbin said: “The plan is to run Captain Quint at Carlisle on Sunday. He is a really nice type and we always thought a lot of him. I definitely think he has got a bit of quality about him and I think he will be even better again next season.

“The way he won at Ayr was really pleasing. He was flat out all the way round but Craig Nichol, the jockey, thought it would be useful for his education. He ran well at Carlisle over two miles before that and I think returning there over the extra half a mile will suit him.

“We were slightly confused as to what trip he did want as we thought he wanted three miles on deep ground and that might be the case in the future but two and a half miles on soft ground will be right up his street.

“It is a great series and the prize money on offer is brilliant. We’ve had an okay season but we could do with a nice bit of prize money to bolster us so it would be lovely if he could win it.

“The race only really came on the agenda recently. Although there are plenty of qualifiers there was not the right one at the right time for him. Ideally I would have preferred to have run in one before the Ayr race as it only gives us two weeks between races."

Helen Willis, General Manager at Carlisle Racecourse, said: “We are very excited to host the chase finals on the last day of the Go North Weekend which is now in its third year of running. This excellent initiative provides valuable opportunities for connections who have supported our Northern Racecourses throughout the Winter Jumps Season.”

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