'It's massive for the track' - Plumpton breaks new ground as ITV set to show live race for first time on Monday

Plumpton ended up staging the most exciting action of the weekend.
A crowd pushing 4,500 is anticipated for Sunday's Premier meeting at PlumptonCredit: Edward Whitaker

Executives at Plumpton are looking forward to showcasing Premier racing for a second time at the East Sussex track on Sunday before breaking new ground the following afternoon when the Bob Champion Cancer Trust Sussex Champion Handicap Chase (2.25) becomes the first race staged at Plumpton to be shown live on ITV. 

The independently owned track was widely applauded for the investment in prize-money and the added razzmatazz it managed to create when staging its first Premier meeting on January 7. A crowd of 2,622 enjoyed the action that day but the course anticipates a crowd close to 4,500 for the second Premier fixture on Sunday. 

Plumpton has put on £200,000 in prize-money on day one of its two-day Easter meeting, which is a record for the course, with £75,000 on offer for the BetGoodwin Sussex Champion Hurdle Handicap Hurdle (4.15).  

"We're really happy with the quality and amount of runners across the two days but especially the Sunday," said clerk of the course Marcus Waters. "Over Easter we often get a little bit less of a 'racing crowd' and it's more a family day, and it will be good to show them Premier racing and what we're doing at Plumpton. Hopefully, we can get some of those people who probably don't come racing that often to come a little bit more regularly." 

Harry Cobden:
Harry Cobden: title leader is riding at Plumpton on Sunday and MondayCredit: Alan Crowhurst

One criticism of Premier racing so far is that tracks have largely failed to elevate a Premier meeting beyond a standard fixture, but Waters hopes Plumpton can once again deliver a premium experience. 

He added: "We'll have infographics around the site explaining what Premier racing is and what it has meant for Plumpton. Prize-money for Easter Sunday has gone up considerably and the Champion Hurdle has been increased by 50 per cent from £50,000 last year."

A further £100,000 will be on offer on Easter Monday at Plumpton and Waters is delighted the Sussex Champion Chase has forced its way on to ITV's main channel, where the main focus will be the BoyleSports Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse.   

"Channel 4 broadcast the Sussex National quite a few years ago but this will be the first time the ITV cameras have been to Plumpton," said Waters. "It's massive for the track and something we've been really keen to try to get for a while now. We've been improving the quality of racing and the prize-money and it's nice to get the reward."

Asked if he felt the increased financial investment from Plumpton was paying dividends for the track, Waters said: "Definitely. Just looking at the runners we've had and the trainers coming to Plumpton, the bigger trainers are sending a few more horses this way after seeing the better prize-money we're putting on, the ground we produce and just seeing the whole site and what we're doing well. It gives us a chance to showcase to people who probably haven't been here for a few years."   

The going at Plumpton was described as good to soft on Saturday but the clerk predicted it could dry to good to soft, good in places on Sunday followed by rain before Monday's meeting.

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Published on 30 March 2024inBritain

Last updated 17:15, 30 March 2024