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Carlisle Racecourse Gets 'Spruced Up' Ready For Red Rum Day

Thomas Wootton at Carlisle’s hurdles course – named after his father Tony, the course’s former head groundsman

Head groundsman Thomas Wootton is carrying on a family tradition as he gets Carlisle Racecourse well and truly spruced up for Red Rum Day and the start of the 2017 jumps season.

For the past 30 years a Wootton has overseen getting Cumbria’s premier racecourse ready for the National Hunt season.

Proudly following in the footsteps of his father Tony, who was head groundsman at the Durdar track from 1987 to 2012, Thomas is now putting the final preparations in place for Red Rum Day on Thursday October 19th.

He and his dedicated ground staff are readying Carlisle’s historic jumps and hurdles courses with hundreds of bundles of birch and truck loads of spruce, both used to create the obstacles which provide such a test for some of the nation’s best chasers and hurdlers.

Thomas Wootton and Dan Wardlow renewing birch in a jump at Carlisle Racecourse ahead of Red Rum Day

Thomas said: “Preparations are going really well and we are looking forward to Red Rum Day and the start of the season on October 19th.

“We’ve finished preparing the hurdles and are now well on with the renewal of the jumps which is an intricate job. We completely renew three of the nine fences each year and this is a really specialist work.

“All fences must meet stringent standards in terms of height and the thickness of the birch used. For horse welfare they cannot be too hard or too soft and we must get that balance spot on for them to pass inspection by the British Horse Racing Association (BHA).

“The course is looking in good shape. It’s regarded as such a good test for horses, the uphill finish is a tough one and makes for exciting racing. I’m really pleased with how it’s coming together and cannot wait for the season to start.”

The Racecourse, which named its hurdles course in honour of Tony Wootton who is now retired, uses around 2,000 bundles of birch every season to construct and renew each of the nine 4ft 6in high jumps which are then topped off with spruce.

The Jockey Club has invested more than £50,000 in enhanced drainage and general improvements of the course over the last year.

Geraldine McKay, Carlisle Racecourse’s General Manager, said: “The course is looking fantastic. Thomas and his team have once again worked hard to ensure that when the jumps season starts everything is in tip-top condition.

“Carlisle is regarded by trainers and jockeys as a real test and this creates some excellent National Hunt racing. This is only possible due to the hard work and dedication of all the team here.

“There have been many improvements made to the track over the last few years and this is reflected in the many leading owners, trainers and jockeys who grace our fixtures over the course of the season. We obviously cannot wait for the season to start.”

October 19th is the second annual Red Rum Day which celebrates the legendary feats of the world’s best loved steeplechaser.

Red Rum famously prepared for each of his National wins (1973, 1974 and 1977) by first riding a winner at Carlisle’s first autumn meeting. A win in Cumbria – in 1972, 1973 and 1976 – was certainly a good omen as when Rummy failed to triumph over the jumps at Carlisle in the autumn he then failed to win at Aintree.

The great horse was trained by the legendary Donald ‘Ginger’ McCain, whose son Donald Jr – himself a Grand National Winner with Ballabriggs in 2011 – is a regular at the course.

Donald McCain, who last season labelled Carlisle as “the best track in the north of England for jump racing”, said: “Carlisle has been good to me and that’s why we continue to send plenty of horses there.

“It suits our horses, they are tough and honest, and particularly on the outside hurdles track. Carlisle is a good education for them.

“It’s highly likely we’ll have some ready to go (on October 19th) to give them a test.”

Carlisle is once again running the Windermere Handicap Chase on October 19th – the very same three-mile chase as won three times by Red Rum.

The Racecourse has launched a search for a race sponsor. All proceeds will go to Racing Welfare, the registered charity which supports British horseracing’s workforce.

The sponsorship is open to individuals or companies who will have the race named after them and every penny raised going to help racing’s dedicated stable and support staff.

Tickets for Red Rum Day at Carlisle Racecourse – Thursday October 19th – are £14.00 (in advance) or £17.00 (on the day). Gates open at 12.10pm. First race is 2.10pm. Last race is 5.25pm.

To submit a bid to sponsor the Windermere Handicap Chase please email [email protected] or call the racecourse on 01228 554700. Bids must be submitted by 5pm Thursday October 12th

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Blood, bullets and bodies: Britain ready for TERROR as 'cops raid bank after lorry attack'


TERROR ATTACK: Britain readies for the ISIS threat with a series of major drills in Scotland

Cops clad in body-armor and wearing all-black were pictures moving through the grounds of the bank’s HQ in Edinburgh.

Counter-terror cops dashed across the grass amid smoke and scattered bodies.

The armed officers hunkered behind comrades carrying riot shields and protected paramedics tending to the dead and wounded.

Terrorists had driven a lorry into the building and launched a brutal attack – eerily reminiscent of the jihadi onslaughts on Westminster and London Bridge.

This terror drill was part of a three-exercise called Border Reiver, as Britain’s terror level remains “severe” – meaning an attack is “high likely”.

Blood, bullets and bodies: Britain launches MASSIVE terror drill


Police forces in Scotland and England are taking part in a major counter terrorism exercise to test the response of emergency services to a cross-border incident.
Police officers taking part in a counter-terrorism exercise responding to a scenario simulating a vehicle attack

“They’re using vehicles, they’re using knives and bladed weapons, but the impact is high and the casualties are high”

Mr Higgins

Police and paramedics were training to tackle terrorist attacks in joint response with officers from England and Scotland.

Pictures showed armoured-paramedics helping people covered in blood, ferrying them out on stretchers.

One man was mocked up with devastating injuries, appeared to have been scalped and having his leg torn-off.

Officials have said the “live-play scenario” is not in response to any specific threat.

But it comes after a wave of terror attacks in the UK, with five incidents in Britain this year alone and at least seven foiled plots.


RIOT SHIELDS: Two-man teams of armed cops stormed the scene of the attack


READY AND ABLE: Terror cops were put through their paces in the huge drill in Edinburgh

Police Scotland Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins said training needs to respond to the change in high-casualty attacks by small groups with vehicles and weapons.

He said: “We’ve seen a number of terrorist incidents within the UK which sadly led to a lot of fatalities. We’ve moved to a threat level of critical on two occasions.

“As these things have occurred so have our plans evolved to try and recreate the threat that we believe exists within the UK.”

2017: A year of TERROR on Britain’s streets?


2017 has seen an unprecedented 34 people die, and 218 people injured in three separate attacks by Islamist extremists on British soil. Could 2017 be a year of terror?
AFP/Getty Images
3rd June, London Bridge: an attacker wearing a fake suicide vest lies on the ground after being shot by police

Mr Higgins added: “What we’ve seen in recent times – particularly in the UK – it’s low sophistication, it’s small numbers of people, often lone actors.

“They’re using vehicles, they’re using knives and bladed weapons, but the impact is high and the casualties are high.”

He said: “This is an exercise – it’s not because we know something is going to happen or we believe something is going to happen. There is absolutely no intelligence to suggest that Scotland is going to be a specific target of terrorism at any point in the future.”

Four terror attacks in the UK have been claimed by ISIS terrorists – with a fifth being carried out in a suspected right-wing inspired attack on a mosque in Finsbury Park.

Police stage huge mock mass shooting exercise


UK TERROR ALERT: Police stage huge mock mass shooting exercise known as ” Exercise Strong Tower ” Members of the public and emergency services take part in a mocked-up shooting. Could this be what it would be like if a real terrorist firearms attack happened in central London. The exercise is also reported to be the biggest to take place in London.
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The Emergency Services Take Part In Training Exercise Operation Strong Tower
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Home Secretary Amber Rudd said: “The events of this year have shown why it is vital that the emergency services, Government and agencies prepare and rehearse our response to potential terrorist attacks.

“The professionalism with which front line services dealt with the atrocities in London and Manchester is in part due to the planning and practice that goes into exercises like this.”

Border Reiver will take place across cross the Lothians and Northumberland until Thursday.

Daily Star Online previously revealed the ISIS threat to British seaside towns after the van attack in Barcelona. 

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