Six riders to follow this Christmas
For anyone who has not yet gone to a Ludlow raceday, the Christmas period is one of the best times to get involved. Taking place on December 20th, this is a great opportunity to meet up with fellow racing fans, join in with the festivities, and enjoy a spot of racing! This bucolic event has been under the name of Tanners Wines of Shrewsbury almost since the first communion: no better way to promote an outlet for Christmas drinks.
And of course, because this is a racing event, you also have the opportunity to place an outright bet on your favourite horses. If having a flutter has passed you by to date, the Ludlow pre-Christmas Meeting is as great a place to start as any.
To racing fans, the Christmas period offers a week on unfettered fun, with a string of high value graded contests and handicaps drawing large holiday crowds. The King George at Kempton Park, Chepstow’s Welsh National, Wetherby’s Rowland Meyrick, fixtures at Warwick and Haydock in between Boxing Day and New Year, the New Year’s day bun-fight that is Cheltenham, even mid-winter Point-to-Points at Chaddesley and Larkhill. Ludlow before family descends for the festive break is less crowded whilst still raising a great atmosphere. Importantly, however, it is light-hearted, fun, and all about the spirit of the sport, rather than the actual result.
That being said, a winner always helps, so you need to know which horses to look out for. With this in mind, we’ve listed out the jockeys with the best record at Ludlow, as well as a few details of what to expect at the Christmas Meeting and what makes it such a special event.
Jockeys to watch
Of course, it’s worth pointing out from the off that jockeys are booked through their agents by trainers, so trainer form is, if anything, more important than rider form. That said, there are jockeys who perform best at particular tracks. Look out how Frankie Dettori raises his game at Ascot by way of example.
David Bass has been one to be relied upon at Ludlow. Riding for Kim Bailey and Ben Pauling among many others, their strike rate at Ludlow is well above average. With 10 winners from his last 57 mounts at Ludlow, Bass offers great value.
Keep an eye out also for Robbie Dunne, amateur Gina Andrews, Jonathan Burke and Kielan Woods, all supported by yards for whom Ludlow has been a happy hunting ground. And given that Henry Daly tries to have at least one runner at each Ludlow fixture, Richard Patrick is another never to rule out.
In short, it’s not just about selecting our best known riders. Harry Cobden’s record at Ludlow is average, not least as the track rarely figures on Paul Nicholls’ radar.
What else to look out for
If you’ve not been to our pre-Christmas Meeting before – or any Ludlow event – then you need to know what to expect. The first thing to note is that this is not Ascot, so the appropriate attire is going to differ!
The appropriate fashion for a day at the races in Ludlow is not set in stone, but you should certainly be dressing for the weather – especially seeing as it’s mid-December! By that we mean, that instead of a pair of heels or sleek shoes, try to fetch your best-looking boots and be prepared for the wet if you’re a lady. It’s also going to get pretty cold, so wrap up in multiple layers, for when you’re on the Members’ Lawn or garden – although make sure you have suitable under-layers for when you’re inside and enjoying fine Shropshire hospitality. Gents wear a tie and jacket, but there’s no formal dress code.
If you’re new to horse racing full stop, then you need to make sure you arrive early – we advise around an hour before the racing actually starts. Try to wander around the facilities that are on offer, a great way to soak up the atmosphere, feel the buzz, and perhaps even get a few more ideas about the horses, jockeys, or trainers to look out for. A racecourse is a hotbed of racing gossip, one excellent reason why Dick Francis novels proved so popular back in the day. You should also try to scout out the best places to watch, including making the journey to watch steeplechasing close up from a fence. There are various viewing options at Ludlow Racecourse, so there will be multiple perspectives to try out, all of which give you superlative views across open Shropshire countryside.
Ludlow rarely runs up heavy, given its loam and gravel base, so whilst frost is always racing’s worst enemy, wet ground infrequently defeats us. Come prepared however for the worst British weather can throw at you and you’ll never fall short.