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Easter racing on the cards.

Horse racing at Sedgefield is taking on a major new look.

The course is to the forefront of the radical overhaul of Britain's fixtures, which was announced today.

Sedgefield gains a meeting on Easter Monday - effectively a transfer from Newcastle.

And the track will also benefit from an extra evening meeting in May.

The biggest race of the year at the County Durham course - the Durham National - switches to a Friday evening.

National racing planners have responded to the success of Sedgefield, and its sister track at Newcastle, by granting them both more "customer friendly" fixtures in 2004.

Newcastle will race on Grand National day on the first Saturday in April - a day that the racecourse's general manager David Williamson believes can be turned into a gala affair.

The three-day Northumberland Plate Festival, which Newcastle had been seeking, has also been confirmed.

The new fixture lists mean that both racecourses can benefit from the investment in them by owners Northern Racing - Britain's largest private racecourse group.

Jim Allen, general manager at Sedgefield, where plans are also in place to build an all-weather racing surface in addition to the National Hunt course, is delighted.

He said: "Gaining a fixture on Easter Monday is excellent news, as is being granted an extra evening fixture during May.

"I regard switching the Durham National to a Friday evening as a splendid opportunity to create a great night of racing.

"And although we will no longer race on Boxing Day, we've gained a fixture on New Year's Eve instead - so our racegoers can start to see out the old year with an afternoon at the races."

Full 2004 Sedgefield National Hunt dates are: Tues Jan 13; Tues Jan 27; Tues Feb 10; Tues Feb 24; Tues March 16; Tues March 30; Easter Mon April 12; Fri April 30 (evening); Wed May 19 (evening); Tues May 25 (evening); Mon July 26; Fri Aug 6; Tues Aug 31; Tues Sept 28; Wed Oct 27; Tues Nov 9; Tues Nov 23; Tues Dec 7; Fri Dec 31.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Aug 7, 2003
Words:339
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