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Stratford Racecourse's meeting on Sunday the last one to be run behind closed doors

AFTER a short break, racing returns to Stratford on Sunday, the last meeting to be held behind closed doors before crowds return the following weekend, writes David Hucker.

Stratford Racecourse. Photo: Mark Williamson S82/8/20/1948
Stratford Racecourse. Photo: Mark Williamson S82/8/20/1948

Stratford has not been able to welcome the public since the opening meeting of last season on 9th March 2020, but that will end in just over a week’s time, with tickets now on sale for the evening fixture on Saturday, 22nd May, when the first race is due off at 5.40pm.

Under Covid-19 restrictions, racecourses will continue to have allocated areas with the green zone for participants, amber for owners and blue for the public.

The Stratford blue zone will be in the centre of the track and tickets, which must be booked in advance, cost £15 including a racecard, available from www.stratfordracecourse.net.

“We very much look forward to having spectators back enjoying the racing,” said manager Ilona Barnett.

“We have 2,000 tickets on sale which can be purchased online right up to the meeting. Bookmakers will be operating and facilities will be provided within government guidelines.”

Sunday’s seven-race card, shown live on Racing TV, gets under way at 2.17pm with the Racing Welfare Supporting Mental Health Awareness Week Maiden Hurdle over two-and-three-quarter miles.

Among the 11 entries are dual bumper winner Ultimate Getaway, who has been well beaten in his two runs over hurdles to date, and Drakes Well, runner-up at Uttoxeter over fences last time and also entered in a chase later on the card.

Next up is the Join Racing TV Now Novices’ Handicap Chase over two miles and three furlongs, which has attracted 28 entries including the consistent Bardd, who would go close if reproducing his run behind the progressive One More Fleurie at Warwick in February.

Although yet to win in five races, Calvario, owned by Kate and Andrew Brooks, has been given an official rating of 106 and is now with Over Norton trainer Charlie Longsdon, the third stable he has resided in during his short career.

Lady Reset was denied in the very last strides by the more experienced Scrutinise in a handicap here back in October and would have an obvious chance if showing that form again in the Come Racing On The 22nd May Mares’ Novices’ Selling Hurdle over two miles and half a furlong.

After winning a chase at Fontwell Park, Gaia Vallis was sent off favourite in a hurdle race at Uttoxeter last time but didn’t jumped fluently, weakening three flights from home.

The Visit racingtv.com Handicap Chase over two miles and a furlong could see a rematch between Larch Hill and Atlantic Storm, first and second at Warwick last time out.

Larch Hill received four pounds in weight that day, but has to concede two pounds here, which should bring them closer together.

Dan Skelton’s Azzuri is on a long losing streak but was rated at 144 at his best and is now running from a mark of just 118. He holds another entry in a longer race later in the afternoon and the trainer also has Getariver entered in this one.

Longest contest of the afternoon is the Stratford Touring Park Is Open Mares’ Handicap Hurdle over three miles and two-and-a-half furlongs in which Lugg River, who ran well after a 51-day break at Warwick earlier this month, could go close.

The Visit stratfordracecourse.net For Tickets Handicap Chase over an extended two and three-quarter miles provides the other option for both Drakes Well and Azzuri, but Madera Mist is an interesting entry lower down the weights if running here rather than at Uttoxeter on Saturday.

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