TAUNTON Racecourse hosts the inaugural running of the Portman Cup this Saturday, January 19, when the first of seven races on the card, boasting a whopping prize fund of £106k, goes to post at 1.10pm.

Top trainers Paul Nicholls, Alan King, Emma Lavelle, Colin Tizzard, Nicky Henderson and David Pipe all have runners, while leading jockeys Aidan Coleman, Nick Schofield, Wayne Hutchinson, Sam Twiston-Davies and Bryony Frost are all booked to ride; there are 64 runners declared in total.

In addition to the high class National Hunt action on the track, Derek “Tommo” Thompson – the Channel 4 “Voice of Racing” – will be on hand to add to the afternoon’s entertainment.

First up is the Sunday Lunch with ‘Tommo’ and ‘Champ’ Handicap Hurdle over two miles and about three furlongs.

This is followed half an hour later by The Elizabeth Day Supporting Injured Jockeys Fund Novices’ Hurdle Race, over a distance of two miles and about half a furlong.

Elizabeth Day is a local equine artist who exhibits at Taunton Racecourse and has raised more than £1,100 for the IJF through a raffle by offering to paint the winner’s horse or pet.

Next to post at 2.15pm is The British EBF ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle Race over two miles and three furlongs.

The big event of the day is the first ever running of The Weatherby’s Portman Cup Steeple Chase (Class 2) over three miles and about four and a half furlongs, which has a massive £50k up for grabs in prizes.

The two fancied horses look likely to be Tea for Two, the mount of Christian Williams, and The Last Samuri, trained by Harry Fry, but those looking to an each way punt might want to consider local horse Regal Flow, trained by Bob Buckler, who won the Midland National last year.

The trophy will be presented to the winning connections by the Honourable Mrs Rosemary Pease, the daughter of Lord Portman, who donated the land on which Taunton Racecourse now stands.

The Invest SouthWest Seniors’ Handicap Hurdle Race over two miles three furlongs, with a generous prize pot of £18,500, follows next at 3.25pm.

The penultimate action is The Foresters Garden Buildings Chase, half an hour later, over two miles, which has £10,800 available in prizes.

The afternoon concludes at 4.25pm with The Free Ticket Offer Ends Midnight 27th January Mares Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race, over two miles and about half a furlong.

Punters are reminded that they can take advantage of up to 33 per cent off by purchasing tickets in advance online before 10am on the day prior to the meeting, by logging onto the Taunton Racecourse website.

A courtesy coach service departs from Taunton Railway Station two hours before the first race and returns from the course 30 minutes after the start of the last.

Saturday afternoon local racegoers will be heading to Taunton Racecourse where they host the first ever Portman Cup Day meeting, where the seven races on the card carry a prize fund of over £106,000 the first of which goes to post at 1.05pm.