Christmas comes early to Taunton racegoers
Taunton will host the only jumps racing in England this afternoon thanks to the frost covers which have kept the course just above freezing over the past few days.
Local punters look set for another good afternoon of racing action, with 86 runners declared for the seven races which get under way at 12.50pm.
The choir and musicians from King's College Taunton will be singing Christmas carols in the parade ring, starting at noon.
The afternoon's action begins with the Bathwick Tyres Handicap Hurdle race over two miles, three and a half furlongs. The two top weights, Guess Again, trained by David Pipe, and Alan King's Jojabean, will attract a lot attention, but local favourite Posh Emily – returning to action after almost a year away – is worth a look each way.
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In the Bathwick Tyres Bridgwater Handicap Hurdle over three miles and half a furlong, Okafranca from Jim Old's yard and a winner at Taunton two weeks ago is expected to be in the frame again, even though he is carrying nine pounds more this time.
Others to look out for are Elegant Olive, under Hadden Frost, and the lightest weight, Sovereign Spirit, ridden by three-pound claimer Tom Cannon.
In the first of the two chases, the Remembering Victor Thorne Novices' Limited Handicap Steeple Chase, a Class Three event with prize money worth £9,000, Changing Times, trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, and Jump City, from the stable of champion trainer Paul Nicholls, are both expected to be in the mix.
Gas Line Boy, the mount of Richard Johnson, and Buck's Bond, trained by Nicholls, both look well placed to score in the Setsquare Recruitment Novices' Handicap Hurdle over three miles and half a furlong, while the King-trained Willoughby Hedge cannot be discounted.
In the Bathwick Tyres Yeovil Handicap Hurdle over two miles one furlong, the Pipe-trained Home Run under claimer Kieron Edgar, a winner at Exeter just six days ago, is highly fancied to repeat that performance, while Cullompton-based trainer Chris Down's Key to Milan is also expected to turn in a good performance.
Ciceron, ridden by Aidan Coleman for Venetia Williams, and the Elenika, under Daryl Jacob for Nicholls, are the fancied horses in the Stables Business Park Clients Day Out Handicap Steeple Chase over two miles and half a furlong at 3.20pm.
Very Noble for the Jacobs/Nicholls combination has to be favourite in the final action the Follow Taunton Racecourse on Facebook Newcomers Open National Hunt Flat race over two miles one, but the Philip Hobbs-trained Western Jo is worth a look as well.
In addition to the races, there will be stalls featuring local produce, mulled wine, Christmas cake and roasted chestnuts, all situated in front of the Paddock Stand.
There will also be a raffle in aid of the Injured Jockeys' Fund, with a first prize of a gallon of whisky, and the restaurants will feature local produce on their menus.
Racegoers are reminded that a courtesy coach departs from the Railway Station and hour before the first race, picking up at the Bus Station on Castle Green soon afterwards and leaving the course 30 minutes after the last race.