Approx no. of meetings
Rail from London (55 minutes from London Waterloo)
Railway station to Racecourse (£7 adult return on the French Brothers ferry)
Taxis plentiful in the city but worth booking if returning from the course
This was a family day with a marvellous free fun fare in the centre of the track provided by the event sponsors. Both the Grandstand and club enclosures were well fitted out with bars, food, and betting facilities. There were the usual independent bookmakers in front of the main stand and inside the track. On top of this, there was champagne available at multiple bars and we enjoyed time in the owner, trainer, and annual members’ marquee as visiting guests, what wonderful service. Two grandstands are not enormous but they do give a good view of the last 3-4 furlongs of the track.
We had the joy of staying at the MGallery Castle hotel opposite the Castle, but the town caters for all pockets, so it should be easy to find something, just remember to book early.
We are very fortunate as ARC racing member of Lingfield to get in for free, including out barcode swipe cards working. This is impressive when many companies can’t make technology work so effectively.
(2) Return before challenge complete
1 July 2017– Tracks visited: UK (30), Irish (3), Rest of the World (2))
I must report a statistical anomaly. We have visited 35 tracks on our odyssey up to this point, 33 of which were in UK and Ireland. This has been mixed between Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, but so far, there have only been two days of rain. This is unheard of, and specifically after a fully dry week in Scotland we started to say we were sacrificing a goat to the great god Imhotep (which of course I am not, although I cannot speak for Madam Hoof, she has strange ways). So, yet again, after patchy weather throughout the preceding week and indeed on the day, on the glorious Sunday the second of July, the weather was so good, that we got a tiny bit burned (again).
The trip to the track is special in itself and something of a legend in the racing world. From the station at Windsor and Eton Riverside, it is a 3-minute walk to the French Brothers landing. Hop-on hop-off ferries then take you to the track and back running every 10 minutes or so from a couple of hours before the first race to a couple of hours after the last. This service is not particularly expensive (comparable with a taxi for the distance) and is the most delightful way to travel. On the return journey, it also affords a magnificent view of the castle.
This is the second track we have gotten into “free” courtesy of our Lingfield Park (Arc) membership. The club enclosure does, as it should, afford a far better view of the finishing line and has a direct route between it and the parade ring. Although the repeater screens provided a good view of the more remote areas of the track, it is not one that provides a simple view of the entire course due to its long and flat geography, which is probably due to it being on a floodplain. There are in fact definite similarities with Stratford in this sense, but the shape of the track is very different. For those of you who are musically inclined, the running layout of the course looks from above like a giant treble clef. Although the final 4 furlongs are straight, there is a series of sharp left hand turns on the course. Horses that do well on sharp bended tracks such as Beverley and Chester might do well under these conditions. It also leads to a lot of furious actions as the bend breaks and a large field will spread to the complete width of the track.
Our day was part of a thoroughly fabulous weekend in Windsor where we arrived on Friday night, viewed the castle on Saturday and raced on Sunday. I mention this as it is important to remember why we are doing this challenge of visiting every race course. Firstly, we want to see a lot of racing and meet the fabulous people who make this amazing sport possible, but secondly, we also wish to engage with the country we live in and visit the places we don’t normally have reason to see. This weekend combined both aspirations beautifully.