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Exeter and Taunton prepare to start Christmas time with festive meetings

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 03, 2013

By Lucy Johnson and Richard Walsh

Maurice Linehan steers Arbor Supreme to victory in the 2012 Devon Marathon handicap chase    Dan Mullan/Pinnacle

Maurice Linehan steers Arbor Supreme to victory in the 2012 Devon Marathon handicap chase. Picture: Dan Mullan/Pinnacle

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Exeter Racecourse will be starting its Christmas festive fare at its first December meeting on Friday, when the trees will be decked in decorations and a mouth-watering seven-race card will prove the perfect start to the racing weekend.

The total prize money for the meeting has been increased to £80,000 and a new handicap chase worth £25,000 has been added to the card.

Exeter's general manager, Tim Darby, said: "It's a very popular meeting. A particularly strong card coupled with full boxes for corporate hospitality mean December is always buzzing on Haldon Hill.

"In racing terms, the increase in prize money is great news for the racecourse, and it's a meeting where we always expect to see one or two potentially very good horses in action," Darby added.

There are seven races on the card, including the Devon Marathon, which is run over four miles and attracts some of the best staying chasers in training. The Class Two Harry Dutfield Memorial Novices' Chase over two miles three furlongs is sure to attract some decent horses, while the bumper is always a race for the notebook.

The first of seven races comes under starters' orders at 12.25pm, with the last race off at 3.45pm. Tickets can be pre-booked by visiting the course's websire or by telephoning 0844 579 3005.

There should be another feast of Christmas cheer both on and off the course when Taunton hosts its festive fixture on Thursday, December 12, with the first of the seven races on the card going to post at 12.40pm.

If the first two meetings at the Orchard Portman course this year are anything to go by, local punters are in for another action-packed afternoon of racing action.

Six of the races are being sponsored by Higos Insurance Services, which is making its debut with the feature race on the card, the Higos Insurance Services Novices' Limited Handicap Steeple Chase, a Class Three event with £10,000 up for grabs. It is due off at 1.40pm.

Racegoers can get up to 20 per cent discount if they purchase tickets in advance online from the course website.

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