HORSE RACING: Top mares take centre stage as they chase a big Huntingdon prize

Happy Diva clears a fence on the way to victory in the big Lady Protectress Mares' Chase at Huntingd

Happy Diva clears a fence on the way to victory in the big Lady Protectress Mares' Chase at Huntingdon Racecourse last year. Picture: FRANCESCA ALTOFT PHOTOGRAPHY - Credit: Archant

Racing is set to be back with a bang at Huntingdon tomorrow (Friday).

The local track has lost its two last two fixtures due to flooding, but it's all systems go for the Pertemps Raceday.

The highlight of a seven-race card - which gets underway at 12.50pm - is the Lady Protectress Chase worth £75,000.

The Listed contest over two-and-a-half miles is not only the second-most lucrative event on the Huntingdon calendar, it's also one of the most high-profile races of its type in the country.

The race was first staged in 2016 when multiple Irish champion trainer Willie Mullins sent his first-ever runner to the local track, but Gitane Du Berlais was pipped to victory by Emily Gray for trainer Kim Bailey and jockey David Bass.

The 2017 staging was delayed by 10 days due to bad weather but went to the powerful Paul Nicholls yard with jockey Sam Twiston Davies aboard Antartica De Thaix.

The sibling due of trainer Dan and jockey Harry Skelton took the honours with Rene's Girl in 2018 while the runner-up Happy Diva went one better to provide a first triumph in the race for a female trainer, Kerry Lee, and jockey Richard Patrick.

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The defending champion was initially entered to defend her crown, but does not feature among the final declarations for the race which goes off at 3.05pm.

A total of five horses go to post with Maire Banrigh, for the Skeltons, likely to take some beating.

Casablanca Mix represents champion trainer Nicky Henderson while Dalila Du Seuil (trained by Harry Fry), Queen's Magic (trained by Neil Mulholland) and The Bay Birch (Matt Sheppard) completed the quintet.

The card also features a valuable Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle over three miles and one furlong. That race is a qualifier for the series final which takes place during the Cheltenham Festival in March.

Huntingdon Racecourse general manager Liam Johnson said: "We're thankful for all the support we've received after having to abandon the last two meetings.

"We're also all excited to be back racing on Friday and looking forward to what should be a super afternoon."

Adult tickets for Friday are available in advance from £11 from while accompanied Under 18s gain free admission.