More competitors than ever at Longnor Races 2019

Harness racing or trotters at Longnor Races 2019
Harness racing or trotters at Longnor Races 2019

Longnor Races had the best number of harness race entrants this year with riders coming from as far away as Scotland to compete in the games.

The rain mostly stayed away for the race day today (Thursday, 5 September) as crowds watched the gymkahana, trotters or harness racing and motorbikes at Waterhouse Farm, Longnor.

Chairman Steven Johnson said: "We have had more trotters than ever we have 27 competitors today normally we get around 20 which is great and we are really starting to gain a national reputation as we have riders coming from all over England and down from Scotland too.

"We have more safety measures this year and the motorbikes racing is being done under different rules this year but other than that nothing changes with this event and I think that's why people like it.

"We have put on our own bar and disco tonight so the fun can go on for longer which will be good."

The race day started with a damp gymkhana and riders took part in the potato race, sack race and walk to trot.

Holly Woolley was the youngest competitor of the day at just six-years-old and missed her first day back at school to take part in the races.

Mum Gemma Woolley said: "She's been doing the races for about two years now and loves it. I use to do the gymkhana when I was her age so it's great to see the younger generation carrying it on.

"The committee work so hard and charge no entry fees and there is no pressure just everyone encourages everyone which is nice - there's nothing else like it."

President Brian Riley seconded her views and said: "This is better than TV and definitely better than Brexit debates.

"It is totally different from modern life you don’t see people on their phones here they are just enjoying the moment."

For Heidi Bradbury this is her last year as committee secretary and will be stepping down after today.

She said: "I've been part of this team for 11 years now but the time felt right to pass on the baton to someone else as I want to spend more time with my family.

"I have loved working the races and the team really are all very wonderful so I will be sad to go but I'm looking forward to being on the other side and taking the races in as a spectator next year."

During the harness racing two riders were unseated by their horses but no one was hurt and 15-year-old Stevie Lees entertained the crowds with his informative and engaging commentary.

The overall winner of the harness racing was Brywins Magician.

Twelve youngsters took part in the children's race, one lap of of the track, before the motorbike racing started.

Enjoying the day was 20-year-old Amy Hallam from Warslow. She said: "I come every year, it’s a social event and a chance to catch up with friends after a busy season farming and enjoy the day."

Ian Stubbs said: "I saw it advertised and thought I'd come and have a look, there are not many events left like this which is good."

While watching the gymkhana Sarah Reeds, 34, from the Back of Ecton, said: "I moved up here three years ago from Lincolnshire and missed it last year so this is my first year here.

"I have my own horse and was determined to come and see what it was about and I may be racing next year who knows."

John Lucking, 58, came down from Northumberland to support his friend in the motorbike races and said he would not be put off by a shower or two.

Beth Frodsham, who was there with her one-year-old daughter Harriet Smith, said: "I normally come with my little boy but he's in school now. There is a great atmosphere here no matter what the weather you are guaranteed a good day out.

Jim Chadwick has been coming to the race day for 55 years and he said: "I've only missed the years when it has been cancelled due to bad weather. I come for the drinking, the gambling and to catch up with friends and familiar faces I see here every year.

Sheltering from the wind in the beer tent while Hollingsclough Silver Band played spectator Jane Matthews, who came to Longnor for the first time last year, said: "I couldn't believe there was such a party atmosphere here on a wet Thursday in September so me and my partner had to come back this year as we had such fun last year. My partner owns a trotter horse so we are are here to watch the trotters which should be good."

The evening continued with the fell racing and music.