RACEHORSE trainers and community leaders have criticised plans to allow racing on Good Friday – a move which could spell the end for a popular stables open day.

Oraginsers of Middleham Stables  Open Day are concerned about the impact on their event of the proposal by the owners of Lingfield and Musselburgh race courses.

Traditionally, Good Friday is one of only four racing-free days in the year, allowing more than a dozen yards in and around Middleham to open their gates to thousands of people every year.

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The event has raised tens of thousands of pounds for local good causes since its launch in 1993.

Middleham Trainers Association chairman James Bethell said he did not support the plans for racing on Good Friday and was worried about the future of the open day.

“I think it's very sad that they want to do this.

“The trouble is that if one race course holds a meet others will will want to do the same.

“The open day has become such an institution over the last 20 years and it would be a sad if we lost it.”

Middleham trainer George Moore questioned the need for another day's racing.

“They'll want to race on Christmas Day next,” he said.

“I've been doing it for 17 to 18 years and we've earned a lot for charity.

“It'd be a real shame if they decided they had to race on this day.”

Tami Tolhurst, mayor of Middleham, said the prospect of racing on Goon Friday had been discussed before.

“Why they have to have racing every day in every week of the year I don't know.

“They don't like the fact there's a Bank Holiday when there's no racing. I perfectly understand where they're coming from, but it would be a shame.”

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) would have to approve any move to hold meets on Good Friday.

BHA spokesman Robin Mounsey said: “No decision regarding racing on Good Friday has yet been taken by the BHA board, who meet next week, but then also at end of September.

“Any decision to open up Good Friday for racing would involve consultation across the industry and an assessment of a wide range of factors, weighing up the benefits to the industry against any potential consequences.”