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So far racenightservices has created 8 blog entries.
9 July, 2015

History

By |July 9th, 2015|Uncategorized|0 Comments

I have been involved in running race night events for over twenty years.  During this time, I have compered events at Aintree, Haydock, Cheltenham, Ascot, Newmarket and Doncaster racecourses.  Some of these race night meetings have been corporate events and others have been charity fundraisers. I am often asked which I prefer.  Bearing in mind that it was the fundraising side of things that originally got me involved in the race night business, I feel obliged to say that fundraising is in first place and the corporate work is in second place.  Having said that, the corporate work is a lot more lucrative, so I'm not completely sure which I prefer.  Either way, it would certainly be a photo finish! During the corporate events, I often have time to walk the racecourse or to look out over a balcony and take in the sheer beauty of the winners' enclosure, paddock, finish line and the surrounding scenery.  During a fundraising race night, the betting desk is a sight to behold, with people spending money like it's going out of fashion.  I imagine this is because people know that, even if their chosen horse loses, their hard earned money is going to a charitable cause. During a corporate 'fun money' race night, the sight of people waving around £50 novelty notes, after selecting a winner in the first race, brings a smile to every punter's face.  Some people bet on the horse’s name, others look at the colour of the jockey silks, [...]

9 December, 2014

Towcester

By |December 9th, 2014|Uncategorized|0 Comments

It is difficult to miss the man in charge at the race night in Towcester.  Lord Hesketh is very tall and built proportionately.  Like most people who attend race night events, he wears Ray-Bans and a spectacular tweed jacket, and is shod in smart loafers and shocking lime-green socks.  When he walks through the concourses the crowd parts in front of him and racegoers nudge each other and point.  All the glances in his direction are friendly, and well they might be.  More than 6000 spectators attended the most recent meeting, at the race night in Northamptonshire, and not one of them paid a penny in admission charges. Towcester's free entry campaign will be maintained throughout the National Hunt season, but it must not be misconstrued as aristocratic largesse.  Nor is it, as other racecourse owners have suggested, a gimmick.  It is part of a plan to revolutionise the way that this racecourse treats race night customers.  Watching the teeming crowds from the balcony of his splendid private box, Lord Hesketh believes that other race night venues throughout the country are going to have to take notice of what he is doing.  Free entry means that he needs fewer staff.  He doesn't have people tearing race night tickets, and doesn't have to have security men for the gate receipts.  It certainly makes it easier to run a race night.  Before a policy of free admission was implemented, it was quite common for spectators to hop over the fence without paying.  [...]

26 October, 2014

Back to Cheltenham

By |October 26th, 2014|Uncategorized|0 Comments

This week I did something everyone should do once in their lifetime: I walked the course at the race night in Cheltenham.  There is no special dispensation required, it is an opportunity open to anyone with a ticket for National Hunt's greatest race night; the morning before racing starts, you simply slip under the rails and head off.  Since most Cheltenham-goers restrict their perambulations to the hard yards between the bar and the Tote desk, not many take advantage of this glorious stroll.  Today, as three of us ambled round, reining ourselves in down the long, long slope, panting up the hill and agreeing that anyone who attempts to jump fences that substantial aboard a couple of tons of horseflesh should be referred to a psychiatrist, we had the two and a half miles of undulating Cotswolds almost to ourselves.  Apart, that is, from a steady stream of jockeys jogging round in sweat suits and a chatty Irish stable lad who told us he was walking off the effects of the evening before, when he had won a fortune at a race night in Cheltenham, and celebrated accordingly (and, judging by the evidence lingering on his breath, crash landed in a Hudson River of Guinness).  Plus, the official hole-filling team, a party of some 30 Sikhs patting at the ground with spades, who have cornered the market in smoothing out hoof ruts at every race night in the country. The most astonoshing feature of the race night was reserved for [...]

21 September, 2014

The Oaks

By |September 21st, 2014|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Visiting the Oaks in September is very different to the hustle and bustle of the Derby.  The actual race night itself was full enough, but it seemed by comparison quiet and deserted; and I had a new sense of space and leisure in which I could take in all the details of the race night.  I imagine that the contrast between the two scenes must always be pretty striking, but this year it was even more noticeable because of the drastic change in weather conditions.  Another difference that forced itself on my attention was the greater prevalence of gypsies.  Caravans lined the road that runs from Tattenham Corner to the paddock and the grandstand.  I attributed this increased activity partly to the simple mathematical fact that, as there were fewer people present to be pestered, there must be more gypsies per head to pester them.  Also, unlike the race night in June, this time I had a lady accompanying me.  It was about her welfare that the gypsies were chiefly concerned.  'Buy the lady a favour, sir,' pleaded one merchant whose stock-in-trade consisted of hundreds of disgusting little race night souvenirs.  I'd hardly even finished explaining to him that the lady would not thank me if I did - a sentiment heartily endorsed by the lady herself - when another (thinking, I suppose, that she looked hungry) suggested that I should regale her with a depressing form of fish which had the appearance of stewed brown-paper bags.  This temptation, likewise, [...]

18 June, 2014

Ascot

By |June 18th, 2014|Uncategorized|0 Comments

There has been a lot of fuss about viewing problems in the poshest areas of the course at Ascot, but what many commentators have failed to mention - or perhaps notice - is that the Royal meeting , for all the trappings of finery, is a surprisingly democratic race night.  There is no question that if you want to go the whole hog, with a table in the new grandstand, a hired morning coat and a new hat for the missus, plus all the champagne you can guzzle, you can spend the thick end of £5000 and still not see much more than the back of someone's top hat.  However, not far away from the land of silk and money exists another race night, with its own codes and traditions, that is every bit as much fun and a whole lot more relaxed.  Basic entry to the smart bit costs more than £50, but for just £15 you can enter the adjacent Silver Ring and experience all the fun of a marvellous race night for a fraction of the toffs' expenditure.  Remember, you will be watching the same horses.  A small percentage of the crowd here are standard race night punters, in t-shirts and jeans and clutching battered copies of the Racing Post.  On any other day they might be at Redcar, or Ripon, but here they are watching a better class of racing.  Most of the Silver Ring crowd, however, have made a sartorial effort.  The ladies are immaculate [...]

13 May, 2014

York

By |May 13th, 2014|Uncategorized|0 Comments

If you are planning to go to a race night, the Derby, or to Gold Cup day of the Royal Ascot meeting, I wish you luck.  These are great party-days of the racing season when people are far thicker on the ground, food and drinks harder to scrum for, and your chances of seeing the horses more remote than at any other race night event.  Personally, I hate bumping and boring, and would cheerfully exchange them for any ordinary day’s racing at Newbury, Goodwood or York – three picturesque and well-run racecourses. York, the Ascot of the North, is my favourite race night for atmosphere and pampered comfort.  There are always masses of colourful flowers surrounding the criss-cross mown paddock, everyone is terribly friendly, and the walkway around the back of the stands enables you to move about and avoid the crowds.  From here, too, you can see the horses being led into the winners’ enclosure and get an aerial view of the paddock.  The food is better than any other race night I know (after all, we don’t all go racing to see whose horses are running the fastest!)  Some of us regard it as a pleasant day’s outing away from the chores.  The crab and salmon sandwiches have more filling than those served at any other race night venue.  If you want a three-course lunch, I highly recommend the prawns & celery salad, cold turkey & ham sandwich, and green figs.  Should you lose your friends in the [...]

1 April, 2014

Grand National

By |April 1st, 2014|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Corporate entertainment may be the inevitable accompaniment of present-day race night events, but the Grand National on Saturday showed that even the privileged may be forced to suffer some of the indignities borne so stoically by Joe Public.  Almost 70,000 people crammed into the archaic racecourse just up the road from Liverpool town centre, and most must have been appalled by the abject misery of facilities offered for a minimum £15 per head in the enclosures.  Heads were about all you could see in most places, unless you were seven feet tall.  The alternatives were to pay £27.50 for a ‘place’ - no seat guaranteed - in the County Stand or, for £50, a more definite spot on the roof of the race night venue.  Other vantage points at more competitive rates give only a fragmental view of proceedings, especially the thrills and spills of the race night itself.  Firms, clubs and race night enthusiasts, bent on enjoying ‘a good day out’ have latched on to British Rail’s race night package.  At only £85, it obviously doesn't include admission to the actual race night itself, but it does include breakfast, dinner and transfers to the racecourse.  Two and a half hours from Euston to Liverpool is pretty good, but it was here that me and my friends were to experience the vicissitudes of life.  The convoy of buses set off in dilatory fashion from Lime Street, but still reached the entrance to the race night around midday.  However, what we [...]

9 March, 2014

Cheltenham

By |March 9th, 2014|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Thirty-seven hours, 17 minutes, two taxis, two aeroplanes and three trains brought me from Melbourne, Australia, to a race night in Cheltenham, with only 30 minutes to spare before the first race of the 2014 Festival.  I feel weak-limbed and giddy, which is the way most people finish their three days in the Cotswolds.  The Gloucestershire taxi was driven by a charming chap, who tells me all about a revolutionary design of manhole-cover that he has patented.  He is hoping to find a wealthy investor.  I told him he'd never have a better chance as the town will be crammed with people dedicated to pouring money down the drains during the race night.  Prowling outside the race night venue were a hundred cockney and scouse touts, wanting either your money or your race night tickets.  Once I managed to get past them unscathed, I was then bombarded by a second wave, the so-called gypsy ladies with their 'lucky' heather.  I made for the See You Then Bar above the parade ring, and asked for a pint of bitter.  The barman smiled, apologetically, and said 'Bitter?' in a strong Scandinavian accent.  'Yes.'  'I am sorry.'  He shrugged.  'I don't know this word.'  We eventually got there, by sign language, and I gulped the pint down while I watched the first race on the big screen behind the parade ring.  Sitting on a bench nearby, an extremely elderly man with a feather in his trilby waved his aluminium walking stick in the [...]

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