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Neptune Collonges - Grand National Aintree 14.4.12

Neptune Collonges: will be paraded at Elaine Burke's Spigot Lodge

  PICTURE: Martin Lynch (  

Neptune on parade at Middleham open day

GRAND National winner Neptune Collonges promises to be the star attraction at Friday's Middleham open day which, unlike its Lambourn counterpart, has survived the weather to celebrate its 20th anniversary.

Last year's Aintree hero will be paraded at Elaine Burke's Spigot Lodge during the morning, and the guest appearance by retired grey is expected to prove a major draw after triumphing in the closest-ever finish to the world's greatest handicap chase.

More than 500 horses from 16 stables will be on show during the Betfair-sponsored event in which trainers Noel Wilson, Philip Kirby and Patrick Holmes will be participating for the first time.

Another big attraction is expected to be 'Middleham', the Household Cavalry Troop horse named after the training centre who has taken up temporary residence at Jason Ward's Manor House Stable.

Racing stables open at 9.30am, and the £7 entry ticket includes access to a fleet of buses which have been laid on to take visitors around the yards. Buses run approximately every 15 minutes, and parking is free as are accompanied children.

In addition to stalls and demonstrations, the entertainment includes a football match between a Mark Johnston XI and representatives from other local stables that kicks off at Middleham Sports Field at 2pm.

Last year's open day raised £14,500 which was divided between 24 charities and James Bethell, chairman of the organising committee, is hopeful of another good turn out for an event that regularly attracts upwards of 5,000 visitors.

Bethell said: "A lot depends on what the forecast is the night before, but I think we should be all right weather-wise. We have had a couple of calls from stall-holders who normally go to Lambourn so hopefully there will be a bit of spin-off from them having to cancel."

The raffle prizes include four County Stand tickets for the Music Showcase meeting at York on July 26 when the Kaiser Chiefs are performing, and a share in a Middleham Park Racing Club horse for the 2013 season. Last season's selection, Yorkshire Icon, won twice and finished in the first four on seven occasions.

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