Newbury racecourse set for Hennessy Gold Cup on Saturday

Newbury racecourse
The Hennessy Gold Cup is the oldest sponsored race in the world

Newbury racecourse chief executive Stephen Higgins says the course is looking forward to 'their most exciting day of racing' at the Gold Cup.

The Hennessy Gold Cup is a key day in Newbury's calendar and Higgins says ticket sales are exceeding last year.

"The Saturday of our winter festival is always the most exciting day of racing from our point of view," Higgins told BBC Radio Berkshire.

"We are looking for a total crowd of 33,00 over the three days."

This year's favourites include Aiteen Thirtythree, who is trained by Paul Nicholls, and Great Endeavour, while Wayward Prince is also highly fancied.

The Hennessy Gold Cup is the oldest sponsored sporting event in Europe with a 55 year-history and Higgins says that makes it special.

"With that level of heritage and the quality of winners the race has seen makes it a very special day," said Higgins.

"The crowd sizes are increasing each year and the locals are supporting it a lot more and we want to continue to invest in the facilities each year.

"I think the meeting will continue to grow each year in its importance to the racecourse and to west Berkshire."

Higgins says ticket sales are good, even if there is a lack of local trainers in the race, and he is relishing the three days of action.

"The tickets sales are up on last year and I'm sure it will be a lovely atmosphere on all three days," he added.

"We are very happy with the level of support we've had this year.

"This is the race that everyone in the Lambourn valley wants to win so it is interesting that a lot of the horses are travelling from quite a distance such as Ireland.

"But I think the most important thing is the race retains its competitiveness and I think it has."

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