AS JEANNIE Chantler, of Tilston, completes her first year as general manager at Bangor-on-Dee Racecourse this month preparations are being completed for the first meeting at the track in 2005 on Friday, February 11.
Romance will be in the air to celebrate the proximity of the meeting to St Valentine's Day. There is a racecard competition to win a bottle of champagne and lucky ladies may find they are presented with a rose.
Improvements at the racing venue continue to expand the facilities available to allow for the increased attendance. The fence running alongside the chute where runners exit on to the racecourse has been straightened and the extra space stepped and covered in decking.
This will accommodate four bow-fronted, tented chalets to accommodate individual parties of 30-50 people or open out to host one larger party.
Jeannie explained: 'We weren't able to cater for this type of party before. The chalets will fill that gap and be in keeping with the local intimate flavour that is Bangor.'
Course enclosure racegoers will still be able to gain access to the track as the existing gate used for this purpose remains in place.
A new area is also being created at the back of the Dee Suite. This will become a landscaped area with a mix of block paving and grass. At busy Saturday fixtures there will be an extra bar in a marquee and this addition to the public areas will be accessible to everyone in the paddock. In line with expanding facilities there will also be a change of menus in the public areas.
Racing remains the priority at Bangor-on-Dee and Jeannie explained: 'This is a rural racecourse with huge local support, so it's very important to continue that.
'The course is a good schooling ground for novice chasers and we are supported by the big name trainers. That helps our attendance.'
Jeannie hopes that Best Mate will succeed in winning a fourth successive Gold Cup at Cheltenham next month and her Grand National selection is Silver Birch.
Record entries of 152 for the £700,000 John Smith's Grand National were published last week and include two local heroes. Amberleigh House, available at 20-1 in the ante-post market and victorious in the unique event last year, and Forest Gunner who is quoted at 25-1.
Trainer Ginger McCain, of Cholmondeley, has entered Amberleigh House in the totesport.com Handicap Chase at Wetherby tomorrow as an option in the gelding's big race preparation.
Richard Ford of Tarporley who trains Forest Gunner said: 'He goes to Aintree and will run in the Topham Chase or the National. It's a lovely problem to have, the horse is an absolute delight to train.
'He'll have one or two runs before Ain-tree because there's so few options for him.'
Both Richard and his wife Carrie have fulfilled a dream by riding to victory over the Grand National fences in the Foxhunters.
Ford added: 'He's a better horse round Aintree and everybody dreams of the National, I'm in the Ginger (McCain) camp. Give me the National, but we'll make a final decision nearer the time.'