THE Durham National Handicap Steeplechase returns to Sedgefield Racecourse this coming Thursday and the race will be as challenging as ever.

The Class 2 race, over three miles six furlongs, now boasts the highest prize fund of the season and is complemented at this meeting with two Class 3 races. The course hopes the programme will attract previous winning horses to return back as their careers progress.

Last year the race attracted nine strong contenders including Brian Ellison with Five in a Row and Jac The Legend; David Pipe with Shotavodka; Dr Richard Newland with returning champ Royale Knight and Charlie Longsdon with Ready Token. It was, however, Peter Bowen, who regularly travels the long distance to Sedgefield who took the 2016 Durham National title with Buachaill Alainn.

This year the course hopes to attract a fantastic class of horses to declare and ensure a competitive race.

The race is sponsored by Sean Magee, horse racing journalist and author of Arkle. Sean has been paramount in the continuing success of the Durham National encouraging friends to not only attend but to enter horses into the race.

Jill Williamson, executive director at Sedgefield Racecourse, said: “I am delighted to be part of the continuing growth and success this historic steeplechase is achieving. I would like to thank our loyal supporters, sponsors, trainers and owners for partaking in this ever challenging race and long may we continue to attract young upcoming and successful horses to our track.”

“I would also like to thank our dedicated racegoers for their constructive feedback which supported the £90,000 investment initiative into the indoor facilities, providing additional public seating and an extended retail offering.”

A pies and peas package is available to purchase for the race including grandstand and paddock admission, pie and peas served in the new Bistro Café and Bar, racecard and £5 betting voucher for just £18 per person. For more information about this raceday or to buy tickets, visit www.sedgefield-racecourse.co.uk or call 01740 621925.