FANS of Flat and National Hunt racing have good reasons to be pleased with the 26 fixtures to be staged at Chester and Bangor-on-Dee Racecourses next year.

After changes at The Roodee in recent years - including a three-day August Festival and the move of the traditional May Festival to between Wednesday and Friday - Chester's fixtures are a mirror image of those during 2004.

Bangor-on-Dee has been boosted with an additional Saturday meeting in April, which replaces a midweek fixture in May.

Consistency of fixtures is welcome and important. Those at Bangor-on-Dee and Chester today and Sunday, respectively, for example, will also be held on the equivalent days next year.

The annual Family Funday on The Roodee has become a real fixture in the British racing calendar, and its success and popularity are helped by it being on the same Sunday every year.

Bangor-on-Dee's first Ladies' Day for many years, meanwhile, has brought a focus on one lady who gained fame when riding in the Grand National in the 1980s.

For it's not often that a horse dictates the honeymoon plans of newly-weds, but that could be the case today.

Jockey Mark Bradburne, who married former Aintree rider Gee Armytage last weekend, is due to be on board the exciting novice chaser First Ballot in the Everyone's A Winner At Bangor Races Novices' Chase.

Dubbed horse racing's 'wedding of the year' - and arranged on a day when there was no National Hunt racing - the honeymoon has been arranged around First Ballot's racing plans.

The horse, which this time last year was running in top-class company at Glorious Goodwood, won his first race over fences at Bangor-on-Dee's last meeting in May. Since then he's won twice more - all of them with Mark Bradburne in the saddle. Both he and Gee are keen that he keeps the ride.

The first race at the annual Family Funday on Sunday is due off at 2.20pm. Badges cost: County Stand £25-35; Tattersalls & Paddock £15; Dee Stands £7; Open Course £6. Car parking is £5 on the day.

As well as via the website (, badges can be bought on the racecourse's credit card hotline on 01244 304610, which is open between 9am and

4.45pm, Mondays to Fridays. General e-mail inquiries to

The first race at Bangor-on-Dee today is scheduled for 2.15pm. Admission to the Course Enclosure is £6 while the Paddock Enclosure is £13. Accompanied children enter free.

More information is available on the course website or contact the racecourse on 01978 780323.