My Race Days
The Flat is Back!!!
I have always loved the first turf meeting of the year at Doncaster. This for me holds some unusual and special memories as back in 2006 (when the Lincoln meeting was held at Redcar); I was eagerly awaiting the arrival of my daughter. Luckily for me she arrived five minutes before the big race and I made sure I watched it! From that day on I always made sure I backed that year’s winner Blyth Knight every time he ran. Co-incidentally it was the same day as the Dubai World Cup – as it was this year!
This time around I was lucky enough to be taking advantage of the ‘classic insider package’ that Doncaster offer for a very reasonable £40. So what do you get for your money?
1- County Stand badge
2- Complimentary race card
3- Complimentary beer, wine or soft drink
4- Afternoon tea
I was especially looking forward to the tour which was to take place after the 2nd race outside the weighing room.
My racing buddies this time were my dad – who has definitely now been bitten by the racing bug, and his friend Ernie who is an annual badge holder at Redcar. So between us there is a fair bit of racing knowledge, and certainly a love for the game.
On arrival at the track the crowd was building as people queued for their pre ordered tickets at the very handy collection point outside the main gate. Having such a point eases the congestion somewhat in the main entrance – a plus point in my book as I cannot stand to be jostled and bumped before the day has even begun. Sarah Machin kindly printed out our tickets at reception, and even though she was extremely busy she still took the time to have a little chat with us, and explained a bit about the ‘classic insider package’. One good thing about this package is that you are given vouchers to use in exchange for your drinks, race cards & afternoon tea.
We wandered around the track to get our bearings; however Doncaster is fast becoming a second home to me. I really like the place, and this time it was interesting to notice the differences between the jumps meetings and the flat. To me there is more of a buzz with the flat. That’s not to say I don’t like the jumps – I love the jumps. It’s just a different atmosphere. Some of the outfits on show were equally as eye opening as at the last jumps meeting I attended. There seemed to be more big groups of people, including a couple of stag & hen parties who were celebrating in style; fancy dress which I’m sure Ascot would turn away at the gate!
As the first race got under way there was a huge roar from the big crowd – all 12001 of them! The atmosphere was electric! True to form I failed to find the winner. The bookies didn’t seem to mind as they rubbed their hands together after a shock 50/1 winner.
Next race, once again I was rubbish. At least I’m consistent if nothing else?!
Now it was time to go and enjoy the tour part of the classic insider package. I made my way through the crowds to the weighing room where I met Roger Hart who was to be our tour guide. There was a small group of us, and as we each turned up Roger checked his list. There were a couple of people who, for whatever reason, failed to show for the tour. Their loss! Perhaps they got caught up in the tremendous buzz of the meeting; I had to remind myself that I had the tour to do! Perhaps a tannoy announcement may have been helpful in this instance?
Roger kicked the tour off by introducing himself and asking each of us what our racing knowledge and/or experience was. Naturally my answer was ‘I’m obsessed’ to which everyone laughed!
Roger also pointed out that at 11pm the previous evening he was in Dubai!! My word, what I wouldn’t give to have his job. To cut a long story short he travels the world attending up to 300 meetings a year doing tours & guides for courses. Roger can be my new best friend any day!
Now even though I’ve got a good knowledge of racing, I was really impressed by what he had to tell us. From a racing newcomers point of view he gave an excellent insight into the weighing room, and all the things that go on behind the scenes.
The best part of the tour (in my opinion) was just around the corner – we were taken into the paddock! Now you may think this isn’t a big deal, but you have to understand that for someone like me who is absolutely besotted and in love with racing, this is one of the best things you could experience. Most people never get to enter the paddock unless they are an owner or trainer. For me this was brilliant. Even more so that by pure luck we were in the paddock for the biggest race of the day, and the first leg of the spring double – the Lincoln! Amazing! While in the paddock, Roger continued with some really interesting racing facts and a mini history lesson, including some little anecdotes here and there. Believe me when I say that this guy knows his stuff and is a true professional in what he does. Every course should have a Roger Hart!
Being in the paddock as the jockeys mounted was just perfect. I also ran into Andy who runs the Wildcard Racing Syndicate who was there with the Racing Welfare people. As the horses left to go to the start some of us placed our bets – I decided against it – after all I’d had two losers. I couldn’t possibly pick the winner of the big one could I?
Yes I could…..the one horse I didn’t place money on all day was the 25/1 winner of the Lincoln, Brae Hill. Unbelievable. At least I got to rub shoulders with his owner Dr Marwan Koukash as he came back into the winner’s enclosure. Wow! Better than backing the winner!
After the presentation to the winning connections we exited the paddock and our tour ended. Time for one of those drinks!
As the afternoon went on, the weather became decidedly chilly, but this could not detract from such a wonderful day. Another great time at Doncaster. Between the three of us (well the two of them), they backed a few winners, including the 40/1 winner late in the afternoon! Ernie placed £4 EW on it and watched it romp home easily!
I must thank Steve Adamson who kindly arranged the tickets for us. The classic insider package is a great experience whether you know a bit about racing or if you don’t know anything about the sport. At £40, this is available throughout the year, and would make a great gift for someone. I can certainly recommend it!
About Karen Thacker
Welcome to my page! I’m Karen and I can’t tell you how excited I am to be one of the ‘voices’. I live in Redcar in the North East of England, just a stone’s throw from the racecourse itself. In fact, I can sit out the back and hear the commentary on race days!
You could say I’m a little obsessed by racing and everything to do with it. Let me explain....If racing was a drink, I’d drink it, and if it were a food I’d be obese! Just a glimpse of those plastic white rails makes my heart beat that little bit faster.
From as far back as I can remember I’ve loved horses and racing in particular. I think it stems from watching the racing on TV with my dad from a very early age, which then took hold of me – next thing I’m riding a finish on my beanbag against Lester Piggott!
It’s not just about picking winners (although that’s always a bonus), it’s everything the day and the courses have to offer. Follow me as I go racing and invite you to share in my favourite pastime. Any questions? Just ask!
Racing is a fabulous sport where you can experience every emotion on the planet, and once in a while a truly exceptional equine will come along who will not only take your breath away, but will also bring a tear to your eye.
In six words I’m a mum who loves racing. I ‘Love The Races’. I hope you will too!
- Hannah Hooton…
- Millie Roome…
- Hayden Evans…
- Jono Molloy…
- Robert Brown…
- George Rowbotham…
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