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A runaway winner for everyone!; DIDN'T THEY HAVE A LOVELY TIME! NEAR-RECORD CROWDS PACK STRATFORD RACECOURSE FOR A SMASHING AFTERNOON OF FUN AT THE EVENING TELEGRAPH FAMILY RACEDAY.

Byline: Story: SIMON KUKURUZOVIC Pictures: PETE ROBERTS

MORE than 8,500 people enjoyed a day at the races yesterday at the Evening Telegraph's Family Raceday.

The event attracted one of the biggest crowds Stratford Racecourse has ever seen, all enjoying themselves in the summer sun.

From first-time racegoers, young and old, to ardent horse lovers and wily racing enthusiasts, the meeting attracted visitors from across Coventry and Warwickshire.

One of those enjoying the fun was Helen Turner, of Johnson Road, Bell Green, who was with her daughter Alice Gough, aged four and her older half-sister Annie Gough, aged ten.

She said: "I'm not really a racing fan and this is the first time we've been, but we read about it in the Evening Telegraph and decided to come along. The kids are loving it. "They've looked at the horses and have been on the bouncy castle. It's just been a really nice day out for us all."

The showpiece race of the afternoon was the 3.50 Coventry Evening Telegraph Handicap Steeplechase, for the Stratford Summer Cup.

Seven races in total were run, including the 5.20 Handicap Hurdle Race, sponsored by iccoventry.co.uk.

But there was plenty of action and entertainment away from the track, with activities for the whole family.

As well as the Evening Telegraph penalty-shoot out in the paddock, visitors could take in the sights and sounds of the National Festival Circus, which included fire-eaters, jugglers and clowns.

A falconry display and traditional terrier racing also ensured there was plenty to see and a tour of the weighing rooms gave a glimpse behind the scenes.

The centre of the course also gave youngsters the opportunity to try out bungee-running, play on the bouncy castle, in the ball pond or have their face painted. The Evening Telegraph Roadshow was race-side, providing goodie bags and readers' offers.

Enjoying the day were Jim Smith and Lyndy Ryder, of Longfellow Road, Stoke, who were with their grand-daughters, nieces and nephews.

A keen racing couple, the mix of racing and family fun day suited them "perfectly".

Mr Smith said: "We've camped here all weekend and really enjoyed it all. The kids are loving it. They've even proved to be better at picking the winners than us. Perhaps we should take some tips."

Also enjoying himself, and getting VIP treatment, was Evening Telegraph competition winner Michael Payne.

Mr Payne, 64, of Ashington Grove, Whitley, became an owner for the day. Joined by wife Yvonne, daughter Sharon and her husband Russel, Mr Payne mingled with fellow owners - and watched the racing from the Evening Telegraph box.

Despite his own favourite, Manhattan Castle, losing its rider in the Evening Telegraph Steeplechase, Mr Payne still had plenty to smile about.

He said: "It's been a great day out. We've been treated like royalty. I like a bit of racing and I'm enjoying being an 'owner'. Mind you, I wish I could keep the prize money!"

The Evening Telegraph Steeplechase, for the Stratford Summer Cup, was won by Skram, owned by Peter Evans and Cathleen Weaver and trained by Stratford trainer Robin Dickin.

He said: "I've never seen as many people here in Stratford at one time. It's wonderful."

Evening Telegraph editor Alan Kirby said: "This was a phenomenal success. It's the third year that we have sponsored the race day and it has simply got better and better.

"We are delighted that thousands of our readers have had a fantastic day out."

CAPTION(S):

EYES FORWARD: Punters among the 8,500-strong crowd watch the action at Stratford . . . although some younger fans preferred to take it lying down (above right) 'A REALLY NICE DAY': Helen Turner with daughter Alice Gough, aged four, and half sister 10-year-old Annie Gough HAVING A FLUTTER: Crowds queue up for a bet with the on-course bookies CHECKING THE FORM: The parade ring proved a favourite with fans of all ages PULLING POWER: Michael Wilson, aged 11, has a bash on the popular bungee run SITTING PRETTY: This youngster gets a bird's eye view of the action PROUD OWNERS: Geraldine Aitken (left) presents the Evening Telegraph Steeplechase Trophy to Cathleen Weaver and Peter Evans, owners of race winner Skram CHAMPAGNE DAY OUT: Evening Telegraph managing director Geraldine Aitken and editor Alan Kirby with Michael Payne who won our 'owner for the day' competition
COPYRIGHT 2001 Coventry Newpapers
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Jul 16, 2001
Words:722
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