Top 5 summer Events

As we are edging closer to the longest day of the year, summer is well and truly on our doorstep. Come rain or shine, there are plenty of amazing racing meetings throughout the summer months and all over the country. Here is your list of the top 5 meetings to head to in the coming months.

Qatar Goodwood Festival - ‘Glorious Goodwood’

31st July - 4th August

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If you ask anyone who has been to any racing fixture at Goodwood, they will almost certainly tell you that it is one of their favourite courses to visit during the summer months. The racecourse is set in the most stunning surroundings near Chichester, West Sussex. Nestled in amongst the rolling hills of the countryside, the course boasts some of the most spectacular views you will struggle to compare to anywhere else.

To go with the amazing setting, there are five days of thrilling racing action including top Grade 1 races and the Magnolia Cup which is a ladies charity race in support of Cancer research. A week of elegant fashion combined with some of the greatest races in the world create a festival week like no other.  As well as the racing, there is live music, with a bandstand situated next to the parade ring as well as roaming performers around the grounds of the racecourse.

Click here for more information and tickets

Royal Ascot

19th - 23rd June 2018

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Royal Ascot is the pinnacle of the flat racing season. It is the equivalent of the Cheltenham Festival for Flat racing but at the same time, they are completely different occasions and do not compare in the slightest. Royal Ascot is steeped in tradition, elegance, and history. From formal dress codes to the classic strawberries and cream combination, there is nothing more British than this week in June.

For many, attending Royal Ascot week is the highlight of the social calendar. The royal parade is what makes this event all the more special as Her Majesty the Queen attends every day, arriving in a horse drawn carriage with other royal family members and acquaintances. Royal Ascot is a match between some of the best flat horses in the world and is a real test for which will succeed later in the season.

Click here for more information and tickets

John Smith’s Meeting - York

13th - 14th July

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This is one of the biggest race meetings of the year at York racecourse and saw more than 40,000 spectators last July. The John Smith’s cup is a flat handicap race for horses aged three years or older and is the feature race of the meeting. Not to say that this is the only racing to look forward to, as there are 7 races on each day of this meeting so plenty of chances to pick a winner.

As well as the racing, York put on various other elements of entertainment including a steel band, Murphey’s Marbles, Punters Panel and Paradise Lane. There are plenty of food and drink stands to keep you well fed and watered throughout the day; really important if we are blessed with some hot and sunny weather. This is a real treat for a fun family day out and a bonus is that Under 18’s go free.

Click here for more information and tickets

July Festival - Newmarket

12th -14th July

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This week starts with Ladies Day which is one of the most popular of the week, attracting people; both men and women, from far and wide. Newmarket is the home of racing and is where horses take priority throughout  the town in every way. The next day is Feel Good Friday followed by the final and most important Darley July Cup day to finish the week on Saturday. Saturday sees the running of the feature race and you guessed it, the name is in the title, The Darley July Cup.  

Each day has an amazing line-up of 7 races as well as live music and other entertainment throughout the day and half an hour after the last race. Newmarket have proudly announced that Simon Webbe, member of the boyband Blue, will be DJ’ing at Apres Racing on Ladies Day. So much to look forward to and the perfect day out for family and friends.

Click here for more information and tickets

St Leger Festival - Doncaster

12th - 15th September

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This is an amazing four day long festival of racing taking place in the heart of South Yorkshire starting from 12th - 15th September. Although summer is technically over by this time of year, there is always a chance of an Indian summer bringing a final glimpse of the sun before the autumn takes over. The St Leger festival is home to the world’s oldest Classic race which also makes up the final leg of the English Triple Crown and the Fillies’ Triple Crown. The St Leger has rarely featured Triple Crown contenders in recent decades, with the only one in recent years being the 2012 2,000 Guineas and Derby winner Camelot, who finished second in the St Leger.

Wednesday is the Leger Legends Day and Thursday sees the highly fashionable Ladies Day. Friday is Lakeside Village Gentleman’s Day and the feature St Leger Race Day is on the Saturday. The racecourse is situated only a short car journey from the city centre where it comes alive after racing during this week. There are plenty of ticket and hospitality options available and some are still available at an Early Bird price so don’t delay any more and get booking.

Click here for more information and tickets


 

Aidan O’Brien holds a strong hand in this year’s Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot

First run 128 years ago in a race won by The Deemster, the Coventry Stakes remains one of the highlights of day one of the Royal Ascot meeting. A Group Two contest decided over six furlongs, it’s open to two-year-old horses and carries a respectable prize pot with £85,000 presented to the winner.

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Rajasinghe banked the cheque 12 months ago when leading home a pack headed by Headway and Murillo but the Irish colt, trained by Richard Spencer, now moves on to bigger and better things, leaving the door open for a new champion to make a name for himself in Berkshire.

A talented field make up the ante-post list and although the field are yet to be clipped down before we reach the final declarations stage, bookmakers are hot on who they believe will win the race, pricing Sergei Prokofiev as a convincing favourite.

Source: At The Races via Twitter

The progressive bay made a decent start to life as a sprinter when ending second on debut at Dundalk back in April in a race won by Skitter Skatter. The runner-up went off a short-priced favourite that day – proving the respect he has in the industry already – but lost nothing in defeat, going down by the narrowest of margins with a lack of racecourse experience to blame.

The penny didn’t take long to drop for Sergei Prokofiev and Aidan O’Brien’s rising star got it right at the second time of asking when seeing off a five-runner field next time out. Thrown back into the thick of it less than a fortnight after his debut, it was obvious connections wanted to get their charge moving and backers who picked up on that would’ve got their money back at Navan when scoring over 5f with silver medallist Pride Of Pimlico failing to land a blow, trotting home a full 7 ½ lengths behind.

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Source: Susie Cahill via Twitter

He extended his form to two from three when encountering little trouble at Naas at the tail-end of May under the guidance of Ryan Moore. Four lengths was the official winning distance on that occasion in the Rochestown Stakes. Again priced like losing wasn’t an option, he lived up to the hype and then some, hitting the front and showing the turn of foot needed to stretch his rivals out and put the race to bed. That speed will surely see him claim more important prizes in future. Could this year’s Coventry Stakes be the start of them?

The latest horse racing betting has Sergei Prokofiev as jolly but there’s more to get excited about if you fancy sticking with him. The 9/4 available at bet365 is market best and that’s also the first time he has been odds-against on the approach to a race.

Legends Of War lines up as the best of the rest with 5/1 the norm about John Gosden’s second-favourite. He brings to course a 100% record of one start, one win, but this represents a step up in class. Third in line is The Irish Rover who carries double-figure odds but there’s a lot to like about O’Brien’s other runner and he gave a winning effort on his most recent go.

Investec Epsom Derby Special- A Week in the Life of Mick 28th May

After a busy few weeks, it was great to catch up with Mick again, ahead of the Investec Derby Festival. As we started talking about the festival Mick informs me it has always been the place to be seen, and the slightly pretentious atmosphere has made people boast about going. He said what a superb meeting it is, whilst the ceremony and atmosphere that comes with it creates a great sporting occasion.

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The first race we discuss is the Investec Coronation Cup, and Mick goes onto say there are times in racing when we have to forget about the betting and just celebrate a good horse, and that is what CRACKSMAN is! He was only a baby when he came 3rd in the Derby, particularly impressive with it being his 3rd ever run. Whilst he lacked experience back then, we have since seen him progress through the year and have a great winning on Champions day at Ascot, followed by an expected to win at Longchamp, though he didn’t just win he bolted up! Mick expresses how he really wants to see Cracksman win, and win well. The worry with this race is the ground, as the recent thunderstorms have meant the ground is soft, and with the forecast it’s likely to stay this way. However, for him this is not a problem, he has good form on soft ground from both his last winners. IDAHO also has form on soft, but they have said he is better on quick ground. Then the other competition I ask about is of course, HAWKBILL. Mick tells me he also has won on soft ground at Sandown so this won’t be a problem for him. He says Frankie would be very silly to let HAWKBILL take advantage, as if he takes the lead he can be a hard nut to crack.

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CRACKSMAN

Next we move onto the Investec Oaks, which is currently a guessing game for runners, with Aidan looking at having a potential eight runners! Again we look at horses who have great form on soft ground. Mick states he really likes Clive Coxs horse PERFECT CLARITY. She put in a really good performance in her Oaks trial at Lingfield, although this was on quick ground so the soft is unknown. She handled both the bend and hill well and considering that was only her second ever run, she had a superb time. The favourite is WILD ILLUSION who had a great run in the Guineas, and when she won in Chantilly in October it was on soft ground so she will handle the cut.

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PERFECT CLARITY

Finally we look at the Investec Derby, where Mick first mentions SAXON WARRIOR, and says what a breakthrough winning the Guineas was for Donnacha. It must of been a great day for the whole family and for his son to win the Guineas for him. Mick tells me many people say he is a Derby horse, and he ticks all the boxes, handling soft ground and putting on really good performances. We then discuss HAZAPOUR, where Mick comments it’s a real positive Frankie rides, as he has a vast experience round Epsom, and in the absence of Pat Smullen he thinks Frankie is the best man for him. We have seen this reflected in the betting and he is now 3rd favourite, plus Mick says it would be nice to see Dermot do it again. Mick was at York when ROARING LION won, working for ITV. He said he was so impressed with his run and when he was very narrowly beaten by SAXON WARRIOR in the Guineas, and he thinks Oisin has obviously put him forward and feels they should of won that day.

What Mick feels will be the challenges of the race, is not just the hill and the bend but the huge crowds and noise that come with the day. Mick follows on by looking at what he thinks is a cracking each way bet, KNIGHT TO BEHOLD, a horse trained by Harry Dunlop, a local for Mick. He says it would be great to see a local trainer win and he thinks he could cope with the soft ground well. Finally we look at YOUNG RASCAL a horse with a bit of a story, owned by the head of Investec, Mick was impressed with his run at Chester and he feels he learnt alot from it. Also Mick points out William is a Derby winning trainer and is very selective with his Derby runners, this only being his fourth, which Mick says speaks volumes and it would be great for James Doyle who Micks believes is incredibly talented. He concludes by saying it’s not all about SAXON WARRIOR and there is plenty that need serious consideration.

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For tickets to the Investec Epsom Derby visit our site HERE

 


 

Investec Epsom Derby Breakfast with the Stars

The Epsom Derby the holy grail of classic races, the one everyone wants to win. The countdown is on with less than two weeks to go. With any big event like this, the build up all adds to the excitement. It’s like Christmas, for me the build up is the best part, the anticipation...the unknown, is all part of the building excitement.  With this analogy in mind, Breakfast with the Stars is a bit like doing your Christmas list and trying to decide which present you want most, then Derby day we find out if we got what we wanted.

The morning is great fun and you get to hear directly from the trainers about how they feel their Derby contenders will handle the competition and ground as well as reviewing how they have done in the recent trials. We arrived at 7.30am and greeted with a fantastic spread of food before the interviews and track work began. The morning was hosted by one of my favorite double acts; Nick Luck and Oli Bell, who do an amazing job in getting all the much sought after opinions and tips out of the trainers. The morning is open to the press and media as well as this year being the first year for the public to attend.

The interviews started with a phone call to Godolphin trainer, Charlie Appleby, who was in Newmarket and about to fly to Ireland. Charlie explained that he thinks the Guineas is the best trial for the Derby and MASAR ran a great race finishing 3rd, Nick also commented on how Charlie has had such a great start to the season. Charlie hopes to maintain his good form and all his horses are showing the right signs at home to ensure this. HAWKBILL being one horse who he said he is very happy with and is looking good and training well. Charlie saddles MASAR in the Derby, WILD ILLUSION in the Oaks and HAWKBILL in the Coronation.

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MASAR

 WILD ILLUSION

WILD ILLUSION

 HAWKBILL

HAWKBILL

We then headed outside to watch the horses run on the course. Unfortunately, there were a few changes to the running order due to the warmer weather however, we were not disappointed as Clive Cox and William Haggas made the journey to bring us a couple of their runners.

First up was YOUNG RASCAL for William Haggas ridden by James Doyle and led by ORIGINAL CHOICE. William is a Derby winning trainer but surprisingly has only ever had three runners in the race. This horse has a bit of a story and is owned by managing director of Investec, Bernard Kantor, fittingly this is Investec’s 10th year sponsoring the race, so to saddle the winner would be a story everyone would love. William said the horse is making great strides and he was happy with his work that morning.

 YOUNG RASCAL

YOUNG RASCAL

The second gallop of the morning was from Clive Cox’s PERFECT CLARITY, ridden by Adama Kirby. Clive said the horse was an excellent price and he thought he would make an excellent each way bet. Adam told Clive he likes her and likes how she’s grown and is maturing. Clive mentioned that the Oaks picture has changed rapidly over the last two weeks with more contenders for the race being confirmed. Clive spoke about  PERFECT CLARITY and how she has been at home saying “She’s a good eater and is blossoming in the weather. The next few weeks can make all the difference to her with the sun on her back after what has been a hard spring.”. Nick also asked about HARRY ANGEL, who Clive said will head to the Jubilee at Ascot. He said what a talented horse he is and glad to have him. Clive saddles PERFECT CLARITY in the Oaks.

 PERFECT CLARITY

PERFECT CLARITY

We then had John Gosden on the phone talking with Nick about his thoughts on the race and his Oaks contender, LAH TI DAR. He went on to say he hopes she lives up to her pedigree and she grew and grew and is a very tall filly. A filly he said is crying out for a mile and a half very much like her mother. He told us a story about her mother, DAR RE MI, who apparently was entered for the Oaks but while riding out one morning someone started a lawn mower which spooked her and resulted in a slight lameness, the lawn mower was at Prescott’s who they have since asked his gardener to mow a little later in the day!

 LAH TI DAR

LAH TI DAR

Nick then asked about ROARING LION, who John says they will urge on the side of caution with after the Dante. He is in great form going into the Derby and has great American turf pedigree and speed on his Dam side. He was not tuned for the Craven and he was not in the heart of the race for the Guineas.

 ROARING LION

ROARING LION

Nick finally asks about CRACKSMAN who is says was an unfinished product so they decided to give him a holiday and has come back twice the horse he was, “He is like his father and has a great stride”. John saddles LAH TI DAR in the Oaks, ROARING LION in the Derby and CRACKSMAN in the Coronation.

 CRACKSMAN

CRACKSMAN

We then had Aidan O’Brien on the phone who, as always, didn’t give much away! He said SAXON WARRIOR is progressing well and he is looking at having four runners in the Derby. Nick pushed on this point, asking if there was any potential of more runners from Ballydoyle... Aidan admitted he could have as many as six runners. He said if the horses are fit and well, they would be happy to run them. SAXON WARRIOR of course stands out of all his runners and is out of an impressive japanese stallion.  The horse has a strong blend of GALILEO and DEEP IMPACT, and Aidan said he has not had anything like him before. Nick briefly touched on the tough decision Ryan will have for the Oaks, saying he thinks it will be hard for him to get of MAGIC WAND.

 SAXON WARRIOR

SAXON WARRIOR

Finally, we heard from Harry Dunlop who has KNIGHT TO BEHOLD. Harry said the horse is in good form and working well at home in Lambourn. Oli Bell asked about his great run in the Lingfield Derby trial, which he won, and asked about how he took the lead and if he thought he would need to again to which Harry responded with the fact he didn’t think it was necessary he did and he keeps improving at home. He then said how nice it was to be present at the breakfast as this is his first runner in the race, and how surprising it has been to have so much interest from, not only the press, but the public too. Oli asked if Lambourn was behind him too, Harry said that people in the village shop had been wishing him luck which was so lovely to hear! Harry will saddle KNIGHT TO BEHOLD in the Derby.

 KNIGHT TO BEHOLD

KNIGHT TO BEHOLD

To conclude the morning we heard from Epom Downs Racecourse, who told us about some of the exciting changes they have made to the day. The will have ‘Horse Play’ on the hill which will now be a family fun focused area, with Paw Patrol there on the day too. There will also be a new garden party feel layout in the main area. Nick then asked about safety on the day with racing being in the news for all the wrong reasons in recent weeks, they said their security measures were a 12 month plan and change throughout the year. To come in line with changes and keep up to date, there will be sniffer dogs and visible security presence at all entrances and throughout the day on course.

Ascot Fashion Ladies 2018

Royal Ascot for me is the highlight of the racing fashion season, it’s the week we all plan for. Now if you haven’t been before or if you are just looking for some inspiration than we are here to help. We have searched the web to help you find the best looks for each enclosure, so sit back grab a cuppa!

The Windsor and Village Enclosure!

Ladies and gentlemen within the Windsor Enclosure are requested to dress in a manner as befits a formal occasion. It is recommended that ladies wear smart attire with a hat or fascinator and gentlemen wear a jacket, shirt and long trousers.

Fancy dress, novelty and branded / promotional clothing are not allowed on site.

So for ladies it’s recommended you wear a formal dress and a hat or fascinator, this doesn’t have to be of any size unlike the other enclosures so can be as small or big as you like! For the dress I wouldn’t got to short, and would recommend nothing to far above the knee, we are after all in the presence of royalty! So here’s what we found online!

Ted Baker £159

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All these dresses would be perfect for the Windsor and Village enclosure, all are really easy to add a jacket with should the weather not be on our side! When it comes to shoes try and pick some comfy ones it’s a long day, so try pick ones you have maybe worn before!

Hats

John lewis £20

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The Queen Anne Enclosure

Ladies within the Queen Anne Enclosure are encouraged to dress in a manner as befits a formal occasion and ladies are kindly asked to take note of the following:

• A hat, headpiece or fascinator should be worn at all times.

• Strapless or sheer strap dresses and tops are not permitted. Please note our definition of strapless includes off the shoulder, bardot style and one shoulder dressess.

• Trouser suits and jumpsuits must be full-length and worn with a top that adheres to the guidelines above.

• Midriffs must be covered.

• Shorts are not permitted.

The Queen Anne Enclosure is a little stricter than the Windsor and Village, so choose your look carefully as they do have ‘Fashion Police’ on the door! Dresses must have straps and must be just above the knee, hats and fascinators are a must too!

Ted Baker £139

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Royal Enclosure

Ladies are kindly reminded that formal daywear is a requirement in the Royal Enclosure, defined as follows:

• Dresses and skirts should be of modest length defined as falling just above the knee or longer.

• Dresses and tops should have straps of one inch or greater.

• Jackets and pashminas may be worn but dresses and tops underneath should still comply with the Royal Enclosure dress code.

• Trouser suits are welcome. They should be of full-length to the ankle and of matching material and colour.

• Jumpsuits are welcome. They should be of full-length to the ankle, with regulations matching that for dresses.

• Hats should be worn; however a headpiece which has a solid base of 4 inches (10cm) or more in diameter is acceptable as an alternative to a hat.

Ladies are kindly asked to note the following:

• Strapless, off  the shoulder, one shoulder, halter neck, bardot and spaghetti straps are not permitted.

• Midriffs must be covered.

• Fascinators are not permitted; neither are headpieces which do not have a solid base covering a sufficient area of the head (4 inches/10cm).

The Royal Enclosure is the strictest of all the enclosures and will be the most policed too, I have known of people being given petticoats to put under dresses which are too short before. So if you have opted for the Royal Enclosure, you might as well do it properly. Everyone always looks amazing in the enclosure and the gardens are a sea of stunning outfits.

Ted Baker £169

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Hats

Instead of buying hat, I like many people opt to rent mine. There are some great people around to rent and you might just be best heading to your local if however, you were looking for something different I can’t recommend Lizzie Huges Hats enough. Coming from a racing background herself she really knows what she’ doing and her collection of hats are amazing! She has over 500 hats and rental ranges from £45-£125, so there is something for everyone!

We have put a few of our favourites below but whatever your outfit she will have something for you! You can see her collection here.

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#AskJim

Ahead of the Newmarket 2000 Guineas we caught up with our ambassador Jim Crowley on his ride ELARQAM

Who do you think is your biggest competition in the race?

Well the favourite GUSTAV KLIMT, the horse of Charlie’s MASAR and SAXON WARRIOR. You also can’t rule out EXPERT EYE, it’s going to be very competitive race.

How has he wintered?

He’s done really well, I rode him work at the craven he went really nicely. It was a good trip out for him and he’s done really well over the winter.

Do you think it is a positive or a negative to go straight to the Guineas without a prep run?

Positive, last few years Aidan has won and as long as they have had a course gallop which he has I think it’s a good thing.

What would it mean to win your first British Classic, and for your boss Sheikh Hamdan?

It would mean everything, I have now been second in 3 classics, so I would love to win one, especially with this horse. And to win it for Sheikh Hamdan would be incredible with this horse and his breeding, it would be a dream come true.

What characteristics does he share with Frankel?

Looks more like attraction he’s the spit of her, with regards to Frankel, he just wants to get on with the job and is keen front-runner like both parents.
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#AskJim what's the plans  for Gabr and Eqtidaar for the season?

Jim- Eqtidaar runs on Wednesday at Ascot and Gabr will run in the next few weeks.

What has been the best horse you have ridden? #AskJim

Jim- Ulysse

My question I sent to you is Jim which of aidan o briens horses do you think could win the derby?and what's the best day of your career in racing so far? #AskJim

Jim- Saxon Warrior.

Best day of my career would be winning the Juddmonte International at York,

Who do you think you will ride in the Dante #AskJim

Jim- No idea!

How do you rate Indian racing and what was your experience like in India . #askjim

Jim- I really enjoyed it, I like it in indian and they have really good horses, I would say they are like our group and listed horses here

Can you beat Saxon  in the Guineas?

Jim- Yes

#AskJim what is your favourite course king ;-)

Jim- I have two Ascot and Goodwood

Is Battaash the fastest you have Ridden #AskJim

Jim- I would say he is but also the horse I rode in Dubai Ertijaal, was very quick as well

#AskJim at Newbury you rode afaak over taqdeer, it seemed on paper form that taqdeer had around 9lbs in hand as well as a run, what factors made the decisions for the first and second string here? Do you expect afaak’s rating to exceed taqdeer’s during the season?

Jim- Afaak had finished 2nd in his last start to Addeybb who the won the lincoln and the sandown mile

For more information and tickets to the Newmarket QIPCO Guineas Festival visit our site HERE.

Dubai World Cup 2018

Dubai...what an amazing week we had, and unlike last year it was non stop sun, which just made everything better!

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Our trip started with a night flight out of Heathrow, this is the best flight to get in my opinion, you eat dinner in the airport then get straight on the plane and sleep. You then wake up in Dubai refreshed for the day and ready to hit the ground running. We landed on the Wednesday which for the team was a day of leisure, so naturally we hit the beach for some sun, followed by a very long lunch at Cove Beach. This is a very lively beach club with amazing seafood well worth a visit!

 Cove Beach Club

Cove Beach Club

We then headed to the mall for some shopping, my favourite in the Dubai Mall with the amazing aquarium and fountain displays; best seen in the evening. Alternatively, I can’t recommend enough heading out into the desert for a Sundowner Desert Safari. The Safari is a fantastic way to see a bit of Dubai that not many people get to experience. This trip starts with a convoy driving through the dunes with plenty of stops for opportunities for photos, Camel rides and even a Falconry display. The drive continues until you reach the Bedouin camp where you will stop and enjoy a traditional buffet dinner, drinks, henna tattoos, shisha and much more...the full Arabian Adventure.

The next morning was an early one with ‘Breakfast With The Stars’. For many this is a highlight of the trip. We headed off at about 6.30am and watched the sunrise over the racecourse. This is then outshone by they show Meydan put together, you are greeted at meydan with a live band and men on stilts guiding you into the course. As we made our way in we were handed free merchandise, had our photo take in the photo booth and signed our names on the Godolphin board.

 Sunrise over Meydan Racecourse

Sunrise over Meydan Racecourse

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As you make your way down through the Grandstand to the track side of the racecourse, you will see the scale of the set up put on for all of the guests. There are several food stations with all you can eat from all corners of the globe. It really is a breakfast of dreams. As we sat and ate and watched the racehorses work there were magicians and other little shows happening in and around the tables. The main stage was set up for interviews with Owners, Jockeys, and Trainers. We were lucky enough to hear from Saeed Bin Suroor, Charlie Appleby and William Buick from the Godolphin team.

 The magician

The magician

 A customer of ours who won an iphone in the raffle

A customer of ours who won an iphone in the raffle

It really is an action packed morning, it’s also a great opportunity to get to see the racecourse before the big day! After a busy morning, an afternoon by the pool might be needed or maybe check out the spa at your hotel. We went to the beach and then continued our day into the evening by heading to a bar called 360. This is a bar at the end of a pier by the Jumeirah Beach Hotel and has views from 360 degrees which overlook the sea, beach and city landscape.

Friday is the day of our drinks evening, so we had a chilled morning before heading to the venu. As a guest, I would recommend doing the same, the drinks evening was at the Address Boulevard and is right next to the Dubai Mall. A lot of guests had a walk round the mall followed by a drink bar of the hotel before it starts, the hotel is stunning and one of my favourites in Dubai. The evening was great fun and full of lots of laughs, we had Rishi hosting the evening who is always great fun. He arrived early and enjoyed a few drinks with all our guests. He was then joined by Frankie Dettori, Jim Crowley and Pat Cosgrave. Frankie kicked off the evening with one of his stories from his recent tour which had us all laughing.

 The room filling up ahead of the boys arrival

The room filling up ahead of the boys arrival

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The boys and Rishi then joined him on stage and we opened the questions to the floor  followed by the boys talking about their rides the next day. We then did a raffle draw where tickets to Ascot, signed Frankie silks and 10 signed personalised photos of Frankie were on offer, these went down very well with the crowd. The boys then took time to have photos with everyone before heading off for an early night before racing! The night was a massive success and we are sure everyone really enjoyed it and we did too. The team also headed off for an early night before racing the next day.

 Signed Frankie Dettori Silks

Signed Frankie Dettori Silks

 Raffle winner

Raffle winner

Saturday, the big day, we got going to the races nice and early to beat the traffic and so all guests can enjoy their day to the full. We picked everyone up at 12:00pm and made our way to the racecourse, after a quick security check everyone headed to their different enclosures. With lots of guesting opting for different types of tickets, we planned to meet where the coach dropped us off, this is very easy to find and well signed.

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We had Gallery tickets, these are a great option, all your food and drink is included in the ticket and you have great viewing of the finish line. There is ample seating inside to eat and outside to watch the racing, great value for money. The racing was amazing high quality races with horses from all over the globe coming to compete, they have a half time show and an amazing after show with an incredible firework display. This is a race night like no other in the world and is a must for every racing fan, the night finishes off an incredible trip.

 The Racing Breaks Team

The Racing Breaks Team

Dubai is a place like nowhere else and as we said so is the racing, this together makes for a real bucket list trip. The week is what you make it, you can chill by the pool, go and explore the city, hit the shops the list is endless and I cannot recommend it enough.

The Investec Epsom Derby Hospitality

The Epsom Derby, a race I feel is often overlooked. The Epsom Derby has been run since 1780, stooped in history and for any flat jockey, trainer or owner is a dream to win. But why? What makes it so special? Well, to start with, the race produces horses that go down in history and often great stallions who retire to stud after their racing career, SEA THE STARS, AUSTRALIA and GOLDEN HORN are  examples of horse who have ran well and gone on to be some of the best in the breeding world. Secondly it’s just not that easy to win, the course itself is undulating and has a gradual descent into the home straight. The drop is about 70 ft; thats the same as Nelson’s Column, this makes for a challenging race and requires a good horse and experienced jockey. All of these variables make for an interesting race as a spectator, making for a fantastic days racing. The day itself is full of top class racing with lots going on and with all of top jockeys and trainers there, oh and not to forget a royal or two!

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The racing is super busy as expected so to make the most of it I can’t recommend opting for hospitality enough. This year we are offering the Bunbury enclosure, which is on Tattenham corner, where many say the race is won or lost. You are as close to the action as you can be that you feel you could reach out and touch it! This is a private hospitality facility and has an excellent day of amazing food and drink on offer. Details are listed below. All your food and drink is included for the day and the menu makes me hungry just reading it. You will be on a tables of 10 and it is superb value for money, with being so close to the track and what’s included in the day. Plus the party won’t stop after racing with supper being served after the last race, and a live band with dancing!

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Itinerary

11.30am

Coffee & Pastries and  Champagne & Pimms reception on lawn (weather permitting)

12.30pm

Call for Lunch, Welcome address and Heads & Tails charity game

1.00pm

Luncheon served with fine wine during lunch you will hear from our top racing tipster 2.00pm First Race

4.30pm

The Derby

5.45pm

Last Race After the last race, we will commence our charity fundraising with our auction & prize draw

6.30pm

Supper will be served Live band and Dancing

7.30pm

Bar Closes

8.00pm

Carriages Await

Menu

 

On Arrival from 11.00am Fresh Cafetiere coffee, tea, and speciality teas Selection of freshly baked croissants and cocktail Danish pastries

Lunch from 12.30pm

Starter

Classic smoked salmon & asparagus salad with dill crème fraiche OR

Pickled beetroot Carpaccio, salt baked baby beets, beetroot gel and black truffle dressing (V)

 

Main

Roasted rack of lamb, rosemary fondant potato, minted peas & broad beans & split lamb jus OR

Mexican style sweetcorn fritters, sour cream, smashed avocado, tomato, chilli and broad bean salsa (V)

Dessert

For Something Sweet D Bitter chocolate tart with raspberry coulis & mint sugar

To Finish

Cheese Board Or A selection of 3 cheeses garnished with grapes, chutneys and biscuits

Afternoon Tea – Served from 6.00pm Selection of sandwiches to include: D Gammon ham with mustard mayo D Free range egg with baby chives D Smoked salmon with lemon and black pepper D Cucumber with soft Philadelphia cheese D Homemade scone with clotted cream and strawberry jam D Rich chocolate brownies D Fresh strawberries

 

A week in the life of Mick 9th April

After the madness of Cheltenham, life for Mick is yet to slow down. He has been busy racing and then had a week off at home looking after the horses while his wife and kids went skiing. Unfortunately for Mick, he can no longer ski due to previous riding injuries, so he has to stay at home and hold the fort whilst looking after all of  the animals.

Mick is on his way to the studio in Milton Keynes as we catch up and tells me he is off to Aintree on Wednesday morning. We look ahead to the main race day at Aintree this Saturday 14th April and I ask Mick what he fancies for the feature race of the week, the one we have all been waiting for. The way Mick looks at it, is as if he were riding...and which horse he would want to ride. A horse with class and a good recent form is the winning formula for him, this draws his attention to ANIBALE FLY who finished third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March. BLACKLION is another option for Mick, who was 4th last in the Grand National last year. However, he does have some concerns that BLACKLION faded last year and this year will be carrying extra weight but after a wind op, he is hopeful he can make it home in front.

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Mick then points out that this has been a great year for female jockeys. Mick is a big advocate for female riders and says “Gender shouldn’t come into it, like in eventing...no one mentions, ‘Mary King is a good rider for a girl.’ I am a great believer that all athletes are treated with equal respect in all sports”.

This year we will see three female jockeys mounted for the race, which is fantastic to see. Mick says he was lucky to have plenty of role models growing up and now young females with similar aspirations have role models of their own.  Each of the female riders have a great chance and there is a great case for each horse. Starting with Rachael Blackmore who rides ALPHA DES OBEAUX. This horse was 2nd in a stayers hurdle and Rachael is a very capable rider. Bryony Frost is next and riding MILANSBAR who she has won on before and stands a great chance. Lastly we have Katie Walsh who has been placed in the race before, so she knows it well and will be on board BAIE DES IIES. This horse is trained by her husband Ross so would make a great story if they could bring home the win!

A Look back at The Cheltenham Festival

As we all start to recover from the festival we look back on what a fantastic week we had, the festival lived up to every meme, montage and all expectations. It was one of the of the greats as it proves to be year on year!

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Firstly the experience

Cheltenham pride themselves in their customer experience and the course always transforms for the four days. We were lucky enough to have been invited to a few different spots so really got a feel for everything. Like most of you we started each day with a Guinness, just a half for me which was delicious and the village is just busy enough early on to still enjoy. We then slip back up to the champagne bar, which I of course love but HATE those plastic things you drink out of! The novelty is not for me, and I swiftly pour mine into a plastic cup. After we tick off the top stops, it’s time to get in amongst it for the first, and head straight out into the stands to awai the ROAR. This is something you really have to hear to believe and really is as spine tingling as they say, the first one is always the best but they still bring a smile every time.

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After the first race, I am normally freezing and we retreat somewhere warm, we were lucky enough to be invited to the permanent boxes which are there all year. These are great and all have a fantastic view of the track the staff are so helpful and if ever you have considered it they are totally worth it. We also got to experience the temporary boxes which overlook the walk-in to the parade ring. Although these don’t overlook the track, you’re right in the middle of the action and seeing the crowd cheer in the winners is amazing, this was my first time in here and I was so impressed. The boxes are much lighter and really good fun, and provide fantastic value for money.

 Photo from one of the temporary boxes

Photo from one of the temporary boxes

After the races there are a few options, if heading into town is not your thing the Final Flight is brilliant, such good fun and whatever you do next year get a ticket! I thought it was awesome and whether or not you go into town this is a great way to break it up, tickets aren’t too much extra and I can’t recommend it enough. The Final Flight is also open all day and is much quieter during the racing so is a great spot to grab a drink too, you must buy your tickets before though.

If you do want to head to town there is no better way than the bus, it works so efficiently and is so easy to use, Cheltenham have really nailed this. The bus drops off in town and at the station. Once in town we went for a few drinks and enjoyed all Cheltenham had to offer!

Onto the Racing

Like we said it was a year to remember and for me top of the list has to be ALTIOR, winning for a third year in a row is some triumph and is great for everyone involved especially Nicky with two massive winners, the other being the dominant Buveur D’Air.

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Next has to be NATIVE RIVER what a horse and what a race, we had such faith in him and he has become a horse of the people, with everyone attached to the Tizzard family and Richard Johnston.

Unfortunately, these British trained winners were few and far between, with the rest of The Festival dominated by The Irish headed by Gordon Elliott (8 winners) and Willie Mullins (7 winners). My favourite of these winners was Gigginstown’s Tiger Roll (Gordon Elliott) ridden by Keith Donoghue in the Cross Country Chase. It’s a favourite race of mine as the horses tackle all sorts of different obstacles and you are allowed into the centre of the course to watch the horses thunder by.

The festival also proved to be one for the ladies, rather fitting in The Year of the Woman, with four different lady jockeys winning races. Congratulations to Lizzie Kelly, Harriet Tucker, Katie Walsh and Bridget Andrews. I was also incredibly impressed by the mare Laurina who hacked up in the Mares Novices’ Hurdle and is a definite horse to watch out for in next year’s Mares Hurdle.

 

Complete Guide To Pre and Post Racing Drinks

Whether your celebrating you're winnings, drowning your sorrows or simply carrying on the party RacingBreaks are here to give you the lowdown on be best places to eat, drink and dance on Gold Cup week.

If post racing cocktails are what you crave, there is certainly no shortage of places in Cheltenham.

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If it's going to be a late one, Cheltenham's trendiest cocktail bar has to go to Crazy 8s, part of the No 131 complex. The No 131 restaurant and bar’s luxury interiors mean it's purely indulgent and the place to be. It’s even got Tatler’s seal of approval, calling it  "One of the coolest places to eat in England". Nestled opposite the Imperial Gardens the location couldn’t be better.

Crazy 8s delectable cocktails compliment the DJ, making this the place perfect to sip on a Mojito-colada (our favourite of their cocktails) and spend your winnings. For a morning Guinness, glass of champagne or a pint before the races look no further than the Terrace Bar at 131.

Top Tip - 131 have collaborated with Glow & Dry Hairstylists on race week, solving your last minute hair worries. Appointments can be pre booked, and a number will be available each day on a first come first served basis.

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The Vodka Revolution

On Clarence Parade lies inside a former church, where the stain glass windows dominate the stone walls and the booths make a comfortable drinking haunt.

Clarence Social

Is a another great spot. Right in the heart of the town centre (opposite Revolution), this Georgian townhouse is split into three floors, including a speakeasy basement, better still each floor has their own bar.  

Frequently listed in the top places to eat and drink in Cheltenham, this stylish bar and restaurant will serve pre racing breakfast, lunch and has two dinner servings, as well as a bar open till late throughout race week. With some tables reserved on a first come first served basis, it's one of the few venues where booking is not essential.

Top Tip - They do the best Bloody Mary's in Cheltenham, ideal for a pre racing breakfast.

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For a boozy breakfast or post race tipple, the Cosy Club is perfect. Part of the Brewery Quarter this eccentric gem takes you back in time. The interior mixes oil paintings, clashing eras and bold prints, creating a relaxed ambiance. Sink into the vintage 1930s furniture and enjoy their special Gold Cup menu, or drink into the early hours and people watching out the floor to ceiling windows at the bar area.  

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Wine bars come by the glass full and our favourite spots include The Retreat, a vibrant and fun spot on Suffolk Parade, where some of the most delicious food and flavoursome wines in Cheltenham can be found. For something a little closer to the town centre, give Montpellier Wine Bar a try. It's warm and cosy atmosphere has been satisfying wine lovers since 1977.

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For a post race party there's only one place to go, Cheltenham's best know club  - Moo Moos. The venue of the Gold Cup after party boasts three floors, countless fake chandeliers and a middle floor that's open for race week and about two other nights of the year. We can assure you the night will be entertaining, for those who remember, although there's not quite a way to predict how your night will end, but drinks are undoubtedly needed before you step in.

Choose your vibe and dance till 4am on one of three floors, the first R&B, the second, everybody's favourite pop classics and the third, the main floor lures you in with dance and house anthems playing all night, well actually until 4am when Moos Moos sadly calls it a night.

When Moos Moos has done you in (or closed), fear not. Tucked away in the corner, directly next door lies its cheesy little sister, Fever. You'll appreciate them blasting out 70s, 80s and 90s tunes until 6am every day of race week on their trademark light up dance floor below the glitter balls. You can always use Fever as your pre drink destination, as drinks before 11pm will be on 2-4-1 with a flyer! Then go too Moo Moos then back to Fever, or stay the night. Another spot is round the corner from Fever on the acclaimed Promenade in Under the Prom.

Whilst the Festival is the biggest attraction, let's not forget the all important Chelsea vs Barcelona, Champions League match which takes place on Wednesday 14th March, Ladies Day. Where to watch Chelsea v Barcelone in Cheltenham

Harry Cook Free House

23 Montpellier Walk, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL50 1SD

Described by their own admission as "Blending hip and the wholesome" there's no denying the charm in this charismatic and quirky gastro pub-come-bar.

Based in the iconic Montpellier, next door to The Ivy (which is perfect for those looking for an elegant post racing meal) Harry Cook specialises in premium draught lagers, craft beers, ciders and high quality wine, giving the place an upmarket feel.

The Spectre

73-75 High St, Cheltenham GL50 1DU

Situated on the top end of the High Street, Spectre offers the cheapest pint in Cheltenham (subject as of February 2018), giving the sports bar a packed crowd and lively atmosphere.   

There's tempting drink deals and an attractive range of world beers, real ales, spirits and of course draught beers. If wine's your go to you're in luck, as bottles start at just £9.  

If cheap and cheerful is your thing, other hotspots include Frog and Fiddle, and the classic establishment that is Wetherspoons (of which Cheltenham has two, The Bank House, on Clarence Street and Moon Under Water, on Bath Road, because one just simply isn't enough).

Tailors

4 Cambray Pl, Cheltenham GL50 1JS

A classic pub, with five plasmas and nine screens, ensure you won't miss a minute of the match. 2.3 miles from the racecourse, Tailors also serves a selection of home cooked food and snacks, to enjoy indoor or alfresco in their outdoor seating area.

Onto beer, this respected Cheltenham venue offers a variety, which consist of traditional brands and a few locally brewed flavours, including some seasonal specials. They have even been awarded a gold in Wadworths 'Perfect Pint' competition, what more could you possibly ask for?

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A week in the life of Mick 5th March

Well the ‘Beast from the East’ finally hit and boy did it take its toll on the racing! One meeting after another were abandoned due to the adverse weather conditions but luckily for the ITV racing fans, Lingfield was good to go with the all weather track living up to its purpose. Mick said he had a fantastic day despite the slight panic to revise and plan for broadcasting 6 races. He also commented on how hard the grounds team worked at Lingfield. They worked through the night into the early hours, harrowing and looking after the track just to make sure the meeting went ahead. He also tell me how this is not normally a day that would broadcast on ITV, so it was a brilliant opportunity to showcase some of the up and coming trainers and riders on the flat. It was great exposure for them to be on Saturday ITV racing but lets hope the weather stays fair and dry for the upcoming highlight of the jumps season and Mick’s year...The Festival.

This week, Mick does not have many race broadcasting duties but instead, a week of Cheltenham preview evenings...so plenty of late nights and long hours in the car driving! He was on the panel for one in North London on Monday, Racing Breaks on Wednesday and the Seven Kings on Wednesday. He goes on to tell me Seven Kings is a regular one for him and he really enjoys it as there is lots of banter and they get a lot of stick! Unfortunately you can’t always get it right, and this crowds really let you know when they do not agree!

This weekend coming, Mick has a rare Saturday off and is very much looking forward to a day with the family before the madness starts next week.

Watch out for our blog which will include all of the selections from the Racing Breaks Preview Evening. Mick was joined on the panel by Trainer Charlie Longsdon, Star Sports’ Luke Tarr, Champion Jump Jockey Richard Johnson, and was hosted by City A.M. racing editor Bill Esdaile.

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A week in the life of Mick 26th February

It would appear the ‘Beast from the East’ is yet to hit Mick in Lambourn however, they are expecting it. Mick goes onto tell me that he was at Nicky Henderson's yard, Seven Barrows, last week where they schooled 50 horses in one morning. He says we often get accused of being behind the times in racing, but Nicky was clearly thinking ahead and knowing the bad weather was coming, took the pressure off for the colder days where they may not be able to get out on the gallops. This way all the horses who needed a jump before the festival have had one. He is clearly leaving nothing to chance, this kind of talk gets me very excited for the festival, I love all the build up and anticipation...it’s like Christmas!

Mick and I actually crossed paths on Saturday at a very chilly Kempton. Mick was in the parade ring filming for ITV, which he tells me he really enjoys as you are right in the middle of the action. From here you can grab everyone you need to talk to; trainers, owners and jockeys, but he says by the end of the day you feel as though you are cemented to the floor and your feet are frozen! Nonetheless, it was a very enjoyable day with Alan King’s horse REDICEAN, standing out for him. This horse had two very bad starts which is rare for a horse of Alan’s, he didn’t give up though and obviously knew the horse was better than what he had shown in previous races. Mick tells me Alan has schooled the horse at home over a total of 200 hurdles, his hard work clearly paid off and was shown on Saturday. GLOBAL CITEZEN also impressed him. 

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Mick’s week is very up in the air with so much racing already being cancelled and more bad weather on the cards. He was meant to have a runner at Wincanton which is cancelled, so he re-entered him at Doncaster which may also be called off too! Mick is also meant to be with ITV at Doncaster on Saturday but there is talks of them covering Newbury instead if Doncaster is abandoned. He tells me what a nightmare this is for all the crew and all the work that goes on behind the scenes. Hopefully the snow moves through quickly and we get some racing this weekend and more importantly it warms up for Cheltenham!

The Grand National Hospitality

The Grand National is on the of the highlights of the Jump Season and takes place only a few weeks after the incredible Cheltenham Festival. But that is no excuse not to attend both as they are both amazing experiences for different reasons. This festival of racing takes place over three days...yes that’s right, three days jam packed full of exciting racing action over some of the most famous fences in world. Not only do you have racing to enjoy and look forward to but, Liverpool is an incredible city with so much to offer for a few nights away.

The Grand National Festival is unique for a number of reasons, asides from the great racing there is much more including the addition of some fantastic hospitality areas and spaces. As there is so much on offer we thought you might need a little guidance on where the best places are to be. Unlike many other race meetings with the Grand National you definitely get your money's worth and even some of the pricer experiences are really worth that little bit extra. Like getting your money’s worth? Then this is the place to be.

The Jockey Club 1750

This is Aintree’s best hospitality experience and is beautifully done, you really feel like you are having a VIP experience with amazing service and delicious food, oh and not to mention amazing views of the racing.

There will be a champagne reception followed by a four-course lunch, premium wines and finishing off the afternoon with a fabulous afternoon tea.

Being their best experience this is now only available on the Thursday of the Festival at  £499pp

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Sunloch (Thursday Only) £199

Exclusive to the Thursday only this is a great way to get set up for the days ahead, perfect for couples and smaller groups. There will be a three-course buffet lunch followed by afternoon tea. Again great views of the course you won’t need to move all day with betting facilities and everything you need on hand.

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Silver Birch (Friday and Saturday)

This brand new hospitality experience is not to be missed, located right near the start and looking down the home straight you will see every aspect of the races. This premium informal experience is complete with cocktails, appetizers and an incredible four-course lunch. This is perfect for larger and smaller groups who are looking to get the most fun out of their day, the complementary bar will ensure your glass is never empty while you cheer in your horses. The fun won’t stop after racing either, with a DJ keeping the party going.

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Friday will be £369 and Saturday £529

Sunloch (Friday and Saturday)

This is the best place to be to socialise and eat your way through the day. This vibrant atmosphere is the perfect location, with not only views of the track but also the pre-parade ring. There will be a delicious three-course lunch, wine and afternoon tea.

Friday £369 and Saturday £499.

McCoys

Situated in the heart of the racecourse this is the perfect base for the day, with everything you need on hand. With access to the Red Rum garden and Earl Of Derby Terrace, where you are guaranteed magnificent views of the course. They have a large cash bar with informal seating and TVs inside and out. There is a chef inside who will prepare food right in front of you on the grill so you can dine al fresco.

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Thursday £125 Friday £179 Saturday £239