My Race Days
Warwick: The Launch of the Racing Lottery; Kings of the Turf and some Valentines Surprises!
Another early morning. For me anyway; certainly not for those who work in Racing! Slept through the alarm and had about 40 minutes to get ready and get a cab to Swansea station in order to get to Warwick on the train we had booked. We managed it just and were on the 7.28 train to Newport change for Birmingham then change again at New Street to walk over to Moor Street to Warwick. Not a problem normally but a bit of a pain when you have a lot of luggage – as after the races we were going to Cheltenham for the evening for the Silks Ball in aid of Racing Welfare.
Racing Welfare was also launching the Racing Lottery at Warwick that day. This is a really great idea to raise funds for the Charity – by playing just £1 a week you get a number which goes into a draw to win £1750 in cash prizes and more excitingly, prizes and experiences – akin to ‘racing red letter days’ that money can’t buy. The first lottery draw will take place on April 1st and one of the special prizes for that is a fantastic VIP day out at the Grand National including a course walk with David Pipe, a once in a lifetime invitation to watch the race from the commentators’ box, and a VIP lunch; as Richard Negus explains:
Bear with us for the sound – what had begun as a beautiful day had soon turned blustery:
Other prizes for example will be the chance to win a racehorse for the day – even designing your own colours. And if that’s not enough to whet your appetite, there will be mornings with trainers and a whole lot more, so get signed up at www.theracinglottery.co.uk your chance to win and also support the unsung heroes of racing.
I had been given a very warm welcome at Warwick by the Managing Director Huw Williams and Operations/Marketing Coordinator Susi Cheshire and the general atmosphere was very friendly.
What I immediately loved about the course was the fact that you are so close to the action and the horses. Because we had a lot of luggage we had come straight to the course by cab. A shame as I had wanted to explore some of the sights and history of Warwick and the racecourse is alongside the town. I didn’t have to wait long however for some history as the feature race that day was the ‘Kingmaker’ Novice Chase. Named after Richard Neville the Earl of Warwick in the 15th century due to his role in the Wars of the Roses and influence in the ‘kingmaking’ of Henry VI and Edward IV ; here we see one possible depiction of his eventual death at the Battle of Barnet. Another story tells of his death whilst chasing after his horse which fled the battlefield!
The race too has been an influential pointer to future Kings of the Turf – Voy por Estudes and Long Run in the last few years. It was good to note that the prize money for the Kingmaker was £30k and the Totescoop6 Steeplechase on the card was worth £20k, so recent criticism of prize money may not always be justified!
Today Finians’ Rainbow took the honours and also looks to be one to be reckoned with in the Arkle at Cheltenham.
I had bumped into a friend of ours, Neil, of the Culm Valley Racing syndicate earlier and he seemed quite nervous about their horse TheDeboftheyear in race 4. He said they really fancied it for a place at 50/1. He wasn’t far wrong; it ran a cracker and finished about fifth of the 18 runners. However because I had backed that; I had totally overlooked a trainer whose horses I follow and you saw me interview in my last blog – Milton Harris. He had Snake Charmer in the race and my fellow ‘Voice of the Races’, jockey David Crosse gave it a brilliant ride to win at 33/1!! Here you can see Neil with their horse at the de brief then David entering the winner’s enclosure:
Well this was to be a day of surprises. I wondered what a great surprise a young Tom Grant had at having this race sponsored in his name to celebrate his 18th birthday!! A truly special way to celebrate it! Being close to Valentine’s day Warwick had also arranged chocolates for racegoers from Hotel Chocolat and also a ‘couples’ race’ in which the prize was a romantic weekend for two at the exclusive Von Essen hotel chain in the Cotswolds ! Great fun!
Also on patrol for the day was the Warwick mascot - which the children really loved! Mind you; I think Warwick are probably feeding him too many oats!
A jazz band played throughout the day so there was no shortage of atmosphere despite the bitter wind; and at least the rain stayed at bay.
I was then invited up to a hospitality box by trainer Annabel King and her husband Bloodstock agent Aiden. Very appropriate on Kingmaker day! Annabel is a really lovely lady and is launching a syndicate soon so if you’d like to get involved contact her! She wants really nice people involved please – people who love the horses as much as she does and also like good genuine fun. Her box overlooking the winner’s enclosure at Warwick could also be a great incentive; and she trains in nearby equally historic Stratford Upon Avon so it would also suit someone who loves our heritage! Annabel also told me about a lovely horse she had called Amtrak who ran at every course in Britain! I interviewed Annabel about her horses and a memorable recent day when AP McCoy rode for her for the first time – and what a result – a double!
Annabel trains for John Hales and Graham Wakeley, who also have horses with other trainers including Paul Nicholls and Philip Hobbs respectively. John Hales has Neptune Collonges and Noland running at Cheltenham festival; and Graham Wakeley has the exciting Champion Hurdle hopeful Menorah. John Hales of course also owned that other legendary grey ‘One Man’; but it was another grey King of the Turf whose jockey I was about to meet. More than a King perhaps; a Legend. When I was a little girl I only knew about one horse; I think every child growing up in the ‘80s knew of him. Yes; Desert Orchid. When he won the Gold Cup in 1989 he was ridden by Simon Sherwood; and whenever I watch replays of the race I always wondered what was going through Simon’s mind over the last few furlongs...
It was apt that during the interview I realised that the next race had been won by another grey; Silver Kate; for jockey Sam Thomas and Abergavenny trainer David Richards. A grey worth following I think; and definitely a grey day as Shalambar trained by Tony Carroll had won the first Race of the Day the Racing Lottery Novice Handicap hurdle.
Radetsky March won the next and so it was on to the last. I looked at ‘What a Warrior’ ; but as we had already had a huge priced winner, I went for something more sensible. Sometimes in Racing it doesn’t pay to be sensible : the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained runner won at 50/1 !!! I went to the rail to have a look at them coming back in before helping to pack up the Racing Lottery stand and heading to Cheltenham for The Silks Ball.
I had thoroughly enjoyed my day at Warwick and highly recommend it. I will definitely be back To Warwick soon as I also want to take in some of the historic sights such as the Castle and perhaps pick out some more future Kings of the Turf to follow. When I manage to make a return trip, one of the places I will be heading to is the new panoramic-style 1707 Restaurant. It looks very smart and overlooks the winning post – can’t think of a better view to take in over lunch. The name 1707 commemorates the date of first official Race there; though in fact Racing probably took place there as early as 1664! History abounds here!
Indeed, I would also very much like to take the opportunity to come again and look at the local history and also try one their fantastic packages at their Chandler Restaurant. One such package includes Admission, a seafood platter, a glass of champagne, £4 worth of tote vouchers and Race Card for only £33 per person! If you’d like to take advantage of this too good to be true offer go to www.warwickracecourse.co.uk
There are a variety of other deals from £25 per person including food and drink and admission.
As mentioned, the Tote were one of the race sponsors at Warwick and it was interesting to note from the race card that they are seeking betting assistants with great flexible hours and a chance to either work at your local course, or the big festivals such as Cheltenham. www.totesport.com
Lastly, Racing Welfare is on the look-out for keen volunteers to help promote the Racing Lottery at different racecourses. So if you’d like a free day out at the races, please contact them via their website www.theracinglottery.cio.uk
About Eliza Cook
Hi! I'm Eliza. I am a Geographer by profession, and am currently studying for a PhD in Geography at Swansea University. I will be investigating ice core records from Greenland pretty soon. But you don't want to hear about those.
On top of this, during a year out, I fell into working as an in-house model for Agent Provocateur. Strange but true! This experience heightened my appreciation of fashion - especially the eclectic and eccentric fashions of the races.
I've been a racing fan for two years. I love all racing, but a day at the jumps is where I really feel the most excitement. Having grown up in Gloucestershire, with two great racecourses on the doorstep - Cheltenham and Chepstow - it is a wonder that I didn't find racing sooner.
I've been privileged to be a part of some of the 'behind the scenes' elements of racing, from photographing frosty morning breeze-ups to attending the post Cheltenham Festival jockeys' celebration in the Weighing Room!
I am thrilled to be a 'Voice of the Races'. To me, the most striking feature of racing is the accessibility of participants - and the fact that everybody attending has a part to play. A day at the races has it all; wonderful horses, spectacle and fashion, in an adrenaline soaked atmosphere where people from all walks of life come together in mutual appreciation of the sport.
I can't wait to tell you all about my experiences at the races, the people I meet and the adventures I have, as well as the fashions I encounter and the stories I uncover.
I hope you enjoy it!
- 08.11.12 Cheltenham showcase 2012 ; A Fashion shoot, vintage fashion and fond Farewells; Sleek Bodies, Dark Lovers and a bit of Bondage.
- 15.10.12 Dubai International Arabian Raceday Newbury 2012 : the Pure Bred in Legend and Reality and a meeting of cultures
- 26.09.12 Fashion Pad : Racing, Rock n Roll and Retro; Barbours , Belstaffs and Burberrys , Biker Chic and Black Leather; and an addiction to Muck and Speed!
- 29.08.12 Friends at Fontwell Park: Number 6 and a figure of 8; Vintage Fashion & Fab history; Flying leaps, cricket & music...From The Jam and more!
- 29.08.12 After the first race; Fontwell
- 30.07.12 Eliza’s Log: back from a remote Arctic scientific research station; a suitably International blog; and some movies, art, fashion and music
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