Millworkers' Grand National a great success

First published in Horse racing

MORE than 5,000 racing fans flocked to Whittington’s point-to-point course for the annual Holcombe Hunt Steeplechases - once known as the Millworkers’ Grand National.

Linda Nuttall, a member of the organising committee, said: “The day was a great success. The going was perfect thanks to the diligent preparation by clerk of course Gordon Park, bringing the course up to a professional race course standard.

“We had a record number of runners and thankfully the seven races - plus the two children's pony races - were accident free.”

Richard Burton, newly crowned as the most successful point-to-point jockey in history, won two races, the Red Bridge Bookcloth Company Challenge Cup on Current Exchange, owned and trained by the Crow family from Hadnall in Shropshire, and the Garton Men's Open Race on Horsham Lad.

The 34-year-old amateur rider from Bunbury in Cheshire rode his first winner at the age of 17 in 1994. Two weeks ago he rode his 385th winner to break a record set by Julian Pritchard in 2005.

The Holcombe Hunt Steeplechases have been held at Whittington since 1973. The races were originally run at a course in Brindle, near Chorley, until waterlogged ground forced the event to be cancelled several years in succession.

In its heyday, the meeting attracted up to 100,000 racegoers, mostly Lancashire mill workers, which gave the event its two nicknames - the Millworkers’ Grand National and the Mill Girls’ Ascot.

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