DOZENS of animal lovers turned out in the Easter weekend sunshine yesterday for the Middleham Good Friday Open Day event.

Despite racing fixtures now taking place on Good Friday, 11 stables opened their doors to the public on the traditional day for the open day, rather than Easter Monday as happened last year.

ARC Middleham Open Day is a highlight in Racing Welfare’s calendar of events each year, attracting more than 3,000 people to the town on the day.

The day kicked off with open yards in the morning, whereby 11 stables welcomed in visitors to meet their equine stars from 9.30am to 1pm.

Those opening up their gates this year included the all-time record-breaking Mark Johnston, and the recently crowned Lycetts Team Champions – and home of the Cheltenham Festival Sun Racing Stayers Hurdle runner up Sam Spinner – Jedd O’Keeffe.

Stef Keniry and Liam Bailey, two of Middleham’s newest trainers, also opened up for the day.

Proceeds from the day will go towards the Racing Welfare’s Hill House Appeal, for accommodation for young racing staff.

The site of the current Hill House in Middleham has been purchased by Racing Welfare in a bid to help to address the need for quality, affordable housing for young racing staff in the area.

Deirdre Johnston, director and assistant trainer at Mark Johnston Racing, said: "There are a lot of logistics involved now there is racing on Good Friday, it is a big racing day and there is a lot of money to be made – but we are still glad to be able to open for the event because it is nice to let the public see what we do."