Plumpton (East Sussex)
Flat, Hurdles, Fences
Approx no. of meetings
Rail from London Victoria (59 mins, no changes Monday – longer on a Sunday.)
Bus from Brighton or Lewes (20 minutes)
Railway station to Racecourse (300 yards)
One stand, A couple of Multiple bars, restaurant and several tote offices including stand alone and in bars
Didn’t in this case, closest hotels, Lewes, Brighton or Uckfield
(2) Return before challenge complete
Single class, discount in advance, but also family area in the middle of the track on this day with a funfair, student and concessions on the day
September 27th – UK Tracks Visited (1)
The odyssey begins with something close to home. For us, Plumpton is just a 30 minute train journey away (including a change at Haywards Heath). The station is ideally suited for the racetrack and combined rail tickets are available at the stations or on the trains to reduce queuing when you get there. Across the footbridge and down the lane to the stadium is the perfect distance to work up a thirst for the first pint. This being the first track, we approached with a mixture of interest and trepidation.
Plumpton and tracks of its ilk are one of the reasons we are doing the challenge. Both Madam Hoof and I have been racing before. Me predominantly corporate, (Ascot) and her a little more than that with the likes of Windsor, Epsom etc. But this is a challenge we are doing together and including the grass roots tracks as well as the big stadia. For working folks like ourselves, Plumpton offers something of a challenge in that it generally only meets on Mondays. Anyone who works in the industries we do know that Mondays are a bad day to go AWOL. All the things that happen at weekends need to be dealt with so it is not the most apposite choice of days. Luckily Plumpton does a season opener in September on a Sunday as family day. It is a bit of a carnival atmosphere with the bouncy castles and the like. In fact what better way to get a child familiar with riding a horse at speed than throwing them on a bit of blown up plastic.
We stuck with being groundlings on this first day as we wanted to be as close to the action as possible. Going to a small track and hiding in the restaurant would feel wrong. Luckily it was warmish and dry so there was not the immediate need for cover.
However, be aware, much to Madam Hoof’s disgust, not all tracks carry champagne, so make sure you have alternative drink plans if that one goes out the window.
It’s a pretty low key affair in general, with a concrete seat less grandstand, but there is plenty of room to move around and not a terrible job getting served. A nice touch was local ale from the Harvey’s brewery which is based just down the road in Lewes. I felt I had to give it a go and so I gave the standard Guinness the Hoof (excuse the pun) and settled for the local fare. I know we live in Sussex, but the place did seem to be full of very nice people. Possibly due to family day, possibly not, but there was no great sign of public drunkenness seen at other tracks since.
Facts and figures alert. The parade ring is very sensibly placed next to the bar and alongside the track, so there is much less chance of tidal traffic between races. There was also certainly enough places to bet when we were there. We barely had to wait for the winnings, when they were due on the odd occasion.
A fabulous first day for a first event with a full race card. I learned the art of the swinger as a bet and Madam Hoof simply continued her winning ways that she manages most Saturdays at the bookies. It was marvellous to see the jockeys who even then we were starting to recognise. Now all we needed was whispering horse to get my winnings in line with the lady of the house.