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Left-handed and approximately 1m1f in circumference with a separate chute for 5f races Catterick, which was first opened in the late 18th century and still has parts of the original 1906 grandstand in use, is one of the busiest racecourses in the north of England with at least one meeting every calendar month - there are 17 Flat meetings a year. The track itself is quite sharp in nature and there are a few undulations which can cause problems for long-striding types. Normally, a low draw is an advantage in races up to a mile and can even have an effect in big fields over further. But, in heavy ground, those drawn wide in sprints can sometimes benefit when there is a tendency for jockeys to head for the stands’ rail in search of better going.
The Catterick Dash is the principal Flat race staged at Catterick but is normally a nightmare for punters. Favourites have a very poor strike rate but four-year-olds are the dominant age group and the majority of recent winners have come out of stall 1-8. and carried 8st10lb or more. The fare, in general, is very modest, however, though the course’s close proximity to the A1 means that some of the lesser lights from Lambourn and Newmarket often turn up to challenge the locals for prize money and Sir Mark Prescott’s three-year-olds, who are often well backed, have a particularly good record.
Catterick, or Catterick Bridge to give the course its full name, is close to Brompton-on-Swale and Richmond, five miles south of Scotch Corner on the A1. From the A1, leave at the junction signposted Catterick Village. Darlington is the nearest railway station and is on the main East Coast line between London King’s Cross and Edinburgh. There is a frequent bus service to and from the station on racedays.
CATTERICK (NATIONAL HUNT)
Left-handed and approximately 1m3f in circumference Catterick, which was first opened in the late 18th century and still has parts of the original 1906 grandstand in use, is one of the busiest racecourses in the north of England with at least one meeting every calendar month - there are 10 National Hunt meetings a year. The track itself is quite sharp in nature and there are a few undulations which can cause problems for long-striding types but the bends on the chase and hurdles courses aren’t as tricky to negotiate as those on the Flat course. Indeed, the long sweep back into the home straight can expose any stamina deficiencies.
Donald McCain, Keith Reveley and Brian Ellison’s runners are always worthy of respect at Catterick, while Tim Easterby and James Ewart’s chasers have a good strike rate. Micky Hammond and Tom Tate’s hurdlers are also worthy of a mention.
The North Yorkshire Grand National, run over 3m6f in January, is Catterick’s most valuable national hunt race and always a severe test of stamina. The ground is often holding at that time of year, however, and those carrying 11st or more often struggle against lower-weighted rivals.