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

 

A week in the life of Mick 19th February

Here we are again for our weekly catch up with Mick Fitzgerald and what an interesting and exciting week it’s been…I catch up with Mick before he heads off to the Studio in Milton Keynes.

The week started with a night of celebrations and appreciation for the Stud and Stable Staff of the Racing industry. This was an evening close to Mick’s heart as he mentions that it is the team of staff in every racing yard that put in so much hard work behind the scenes which makes him appreciate the sport much more. He goes onto say how lucky we are as an industry that everyone involved in the sport loves their job. It’s not a particularly well paid sport so awards like this are so important to show them gratitude. It means so much to them to be recognised and rewarded for all their hard work and dedication.

Last week Mick visited the Ebony Horse Club, which he described as an oasis in a concrete jungle as it is surrounded by high rise flats in the heart of London. For those who don’t know, Ebony Horse Club is a charity based just south of the river in  Brixton, London. They use horses to raise the education, life skills and well-being of local young people living in some of the most disadvantaged communities in south London. Mick said it was an incredible experience and was very uplifting to see so many happy people smiling and the place is full of real characters. He hopes to work with them more and was so pleased to have had the opportunity to go and visit them.

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It was quite a special week for Mick really, after an amazing day at Ascot on Saturday his week was on a huge high. He said the atmosphere was simply amazing and a real treat to enjoy with so many stories throughout the day. Firstly, he mentioned the upcoming star of the season, Bryony Frost who Mick coaches, this was a first for Bryony who was on favourite BLACK CORTON and to make a change, something was expected of the horse. He said he could tell she was a little more nervous than usual, you would have never known it once she was on the horse. She was so in control, calm and just a total natural, this is why; he explains, she has such an advantage and thinks she will be so successful. She gave the horse a really good ride in a big race on a big day so all credit to her.

Next we discuss the emotional race of CUE CARD and WAITING PATIENTLY, both are huge crowd favourites. He said both were applauded equally coming back in after the race and it was very emotional, this is what Mick explains, sets national hunt racing apart from the flat. It’s those crowd favourites that we all get attached to, get to know them, the people involved and follow their stories.

This weekend he will be at Kempton for the very last of the trials as we head onto the home straight for the Festival!

A week in the life of Mick 12th February

Mick is feeling much better and is walking Serge as we speak, he said he hates to see a racecourse abandoned but was pleased not to miss Fakenham as it’s one of his favourite courses.

We catch up about the fantastic racing from Newbury at the weekend, where we saw ALTIOR triumph again and in Micks words, ALTIOR is the real deal. He thought it was like he had never been away. ALTIOR of course wasn’t the only star of the week NATIVE RIVER made his come back too and Mick said he looked as fit as a flea and is now a real player for the Gold Cup.

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This week for Mick is a little different he will of course be at Ascot on Saturday, where CUE CARD, TOP NOTCH and CONEY ISLAND will go head to head. It’s getting closer to the festival and the last of the trials are wrapping up so everyone is getting a little nervous and will be very careful what they run and when.

Before that though Mick and Oli Bell are going the the Ebony Horse Club in Brixton. If you haven’t heard of them, take two minutes of your time and watch this video.

Mick and Oli are going to help out at the club and see what they can do to help, it is an amazing charity and has touched many hearts in the racing industry. We are really looking forward to hearing more about it next week.

If you too would like to donate please go HERE.

Betfair Super Saturday

The Betfair Super Saturday is a highlight of any jump racing fans calendar. So what is all the fuss about? To give you a roundup of the weekend we have made a list of five reasons of why you should head to Newbury this weekend.

1. Top Class Runners and Races

The race card this Saturday has a fantastic lineup of runners and races. This meeting attracts competitive horses from all over the country including Seven Barrows' up and coming star chaser, ALTIOR.  This will be an interesting race as this is the first run of the season after undergoing a wind-op to aid his breathing. Another exciting entry is Gold Cup hopeful NATIVE RIVER. There are a mixture of Grade 2 and Grade 3 races on the agenda and punters are hoping to see some good runs to gain a better insight into what could happen in the upcoming Cheltenham Festival.

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2. The Course

Newbury is one of our favourite tracks for a number of reasons. Having recently undergone renovations, there are plenty of new facilities to use and make your day more enjoyable. With the classic English weather putting most people off being outdoors, there are more indoor spaces for you to keep warm and dry whilst watching the racing, as well as numerous food stands and bars to enjoy a beverage or two. The parade ring has raised standing viewpoints so that you can see all the runners with ease before and after each race. 

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3. Location

The course is easy to get to by train or car as the train station is a stones throw away and the racecourse is only approximately 6 miles from the M4. By train it will only take 50 minutes from London and driving doesn't take much longer however, we all like a good time so perhaps be safe and get rid of the worry of having to get home by opting for a train ticket.

4. Accommodation

If you would rather not go home; as many people seldom do, there are several options for hotels and accommodation in the area. Better yet, there is a hotel on the racecourse, The Lodge is located by the back of the stables and provides a cosy and comfortable stay so you can make a weekend of it.

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5. It’s Just a great day!

Newbury is very local to a number of race yards as it is only a few miles from the Valley of the Racehorse and training town of Lambourn. This is where all of the racing teams let down their hair and have a great time so there is always brilliant support for the runners. It has a similar feel to Cheltenham for them being a home track, so if you can’t make it to Cheltenham this is a great compromise. All the big names will be there and the atmosphere is amazing especially with ALTIOR running the track will be full of excitement and you are guaranteed a great day, and let’s be honest it’s miserable and cold so brighten up your February!

To book your tickets CLICK HERE, tickets start at just £26.

A week in the life of Mick

After a very busy week at the Dublin racing festival it was great to catch up with Mick, he was sad not to see WESTEND STORY run on Saturday but you have to do what is right for the horse.

On reflection of the Dublin Racing Festival, Mick thinks it’s the best idea they have ever had. We agreed it was great to see so many good horses running with some top quality races, hopefully after the huge success of this year we can hope to see more English horses head over in future. He said that whatever anyone thinks, jumps racing is so dependent on results at the Cheltenham Festival, so it will take a lot for English trainers to head over with the risk of travelling badly and sickness, and then only having a five week turn around for the festival, it’s a big ask and not to mention they will be on the home turf of the Irish. The likes of Mullins and Elliot run here week in week out, but hopefully after such a successful weekend it will be an even bigger event next year. He did mention that although the trainers hadn’t made the trip, many UK based spectators had, I also saw many of my friends heading over and why not. The course is perfectly located close to Dublin and makes for a fantastic weekend, so it was great to see the UK support for their first year.

 Buveur D'air

Buveur D'air

 Dublin Racing Festival

Dublin Racing Festival

Mick had spent Saturday at Sandown and was so delighted for Paul Nicholls winning the Betfred Hurdle, he said TOPOFTHEGAME is a progressive horse and is only just a baby so thinks he has even more to show us.

As for this week Mick has the lurgy (man flu) so is resting up. He had planned to attend Fakenham which he was telling me is one of his favourite tracks. He described the track as just having a feel good factor about it, and is similar to a point-to-point. For any first time racegoer this is where Mick would recommend going,  

 Newbury

Newbury

Mick is hoping to get better for the weekend as it’s a massive weekend for him, this weekend is of course the Newbury Betfair Super Saturday, this is his home track and a personal highlight of the season. Mick has won the Betfair hurdle a few times and his old boss, Nicky Henderson, will be throwing a few darts at the board for the race, with JENKINS and CHARLIE PARCS, and these are just two of his potential runners. Nicky will of course also be running ALTIOR and all eyes will be on him, Mick seemed very confident in his chances and I think we would all like to see him win.

We hope Mick feels better and look forward to watching him on Saturday at Newbury.

Funniest Racing Videos

Beat those Monday blues and have a look at the funniest horse racing videos we found!

Uk Garage does racing

Racing Uk spills and thrills

The most memorable Southwell race 

Best Horse racing names

Dubai Racing and More!

The Dubai World Cup Carnival, not to be confused with the World Cup night itself, but the build up to the big night. The Carnival is made up of 10 global race meetings, where hopefuls for the World Cup night will compete against each other to gauge how they will fair on the big day. Trainers will be taking their horses out there is the coming weeks to see if they make the cut for the big night, what most trainers do is take the horses out, race them and then if they perform well they leave them there to race again and get use to the heat etc. The trainers then fly back and forth until the big night or if they don’t perform well, they all go home and the dream is over!

 Meydan Racecourse

Meydan Racecourse

The Carnival is so important because the stakes are so high, there is a total of $10 million prize money over the coming weeks. With huge prize money like this comes great horses, making for a fantastic competition, so the racing is world class with horses coming from all corners of the globe. Any horse that will run World Cup night will probably run at some point during the Carnival, so it is a great opportunity to see high class racing.

Meydan race every Thursday and five Saturdays in January- March but what many people don’t know is that Dubai has two racecourses, Jebel Ali is Dubai’s second track. Jebel Ali is much smaller and currently seats 2000 people, they race there on a Friday, which is Dubai’s Saturday. The track is often compared to a Garden Party and has a lovely feel about it. Set next to the palm with great views of Dubai. It is very green and has a feel of your local track and makes a great afternoon, it’s nice to go racing in the afternoon too and feels more like racing at home, the first race is at 2.30pm, so gives you plenty of time for a morning by the pool! Oh and did we mention the best bit, it’s FREE! So you have nothing to lose.

Best Time to go...

If you wanted to get the most out of a racing trip you can get 3 days with Thursday at Meydan, Fridays at Jebel Ali and every other Saturday back at Meydan!

This maybe a little much for you, especially when there is so much to do in Dubai! A lot of people would think you were crazy going for a long weekend, but with great night flight times, a central airport and so much to do I think it’s one of the best ways to do Dubai.

We recommend Flying on the Wednesday night and landing in Dubai Thursday morning. You can use this as your ‘lay by the pool’ day, get over travelling and enjoy a day of rest before racing Thursday night. Grab an early dinner in the Meydan hotel at either SHIBA or my personal recommendation Prime Steakhouse, which is the best steak I have ever had. I would book a 6pm dinner then you can watch the first race at 6.30pm from the restaurant before grabbing a buggy down to the track. If you fancy a night out WHITE is one of Dubai's best night clubs and is right at the track so if you want to keep the party going...you know where to head.

Friday racing is held at Jebel Ali, but the first race is not until 2.30pm so why not spend a morning on the Palm, exploring the Atlantis Hotel. There are numerous activities on the Palm including an incredible skydive experience. This is one of the best skydives in the world, and is very famous with amazing views of the palm tree shaped island in the background of your decent a once in a lifetime experience! Now after a busy day you have worked up an appetite so keeping at this end of the city, I would have to recommend Il Borro, located in the Al Naseem hotel. Hands down the best italian in Dubai, to top it of they also have a turtle sanctuary outside the restaurant which is magical at night. Now for the perfect nightcap you must head to the Flamingo Room, which is also in the hotel and does the best cocktails!

 Flamingo Room

Flamingo Room

If you didn’t fancy racing on the Friday there is of course the world famous Dubai Brunch, an all you can eat and drink lunch, they pretty much have them in every hotel but we recommend- the Westin Bubbalicious, Candy Pants and Vida Downtown!

 Vida Downtown

Vida Downtown

Saturday is Dubai’s Sunday and the perfect day to go to the beach, if your hotel hasn’t got a beach which many don’t there are loads to try. There is the public beach which is free and easy, just take a trip to the shops for some refreshments and away you go. For the party lover there is Nikki Beach which is amazing, super fun but very pricey so be warned. A happy medium would be cove beach which is lovely and has an amazing sushi and fish menu! Most hotels also let you pay for a bed for the day if any take your fancy, if you have children we highly recommend Le Royal Meridien Beach and spa has a great play area and facilities.

Dubai is also famous for its shopping and so you don’t have to miss any of that great sun, all the malls are open late at night. There are so many malls in Dubai but the two best ones are the Mall of the Emirates, which is famous for its ski slope, yes that’s right you can ski in Dubai. The other mall is the Dubai Mall, this one is famous for it’s huge aquarium and fountain display in front of the Burj Khalifa...oh and also being the biggest mall in the world with 1,200 shops. Both have the same shops but unless you want to go skiing the Dubai Mall is much more worthwhile for entertainment. The aquarium is amazing, you can see the penguins and even go scuba diving, and the fountain display at night is a must on the tourist list. If you wanted to head over in the afternoon, a trip up the Burj Khalifa is best at sunset, this is the most expensive time but is worth the amazing view of the city at dusk.

 Burj Khalifa

Burj Khalifa

Depending if you want to fly home Sunday night or Monday morning, if you can wait till Monday you can’t really come to dubai without getting out to the desert. Head out to the real life miraj in the desert, Bab Al Shams. This is a  fabulous hotel with a spa which is the perfect treat for anyone after a busy week sightseeing. I would plan to arrive early morning, have a treatment then a few hours by the pool before heading out on one of the wild desert safaris. You will head into the dunes for some dune bashing, stopping off for some sand dune sliding and sunset photos opportunities before arriving at the bedouin style majalis tent. It is here you will enjoy getting stuck into an Arabian style buffet with shisha, music, camel rides, henna tattoos and a belly dancing show.

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 Dubai Safari

Dubai Safari

Party into the evening before heading back to the city, a great way to finish off your trip!

To find out more and book your trip CLICK HERE.

A Week in the Life of Mick 29th January

A better start to the week for Mick with all dogs accounted for in the Fitzgerald household!

We start by chatting about the weekend just gone, which he was very impressed by APPLE’S SHAKIRA showing that J P McManus will once again have a very strong hand for the festival. We also discuss the new kid on the block Bryony Frost who I learn Mick is a Jockey Coach for. He was very impressed with her ride on FRODON, who he thinks they could have a squeak for in the Ryanair and would be a good each way bet! He said what a natural talent Bryony is and a pleasure to be coaching. Mick meets with Bryony most weeks and will be seeing her on Tuesday night. He will then be heading over to the At The Races studios Wednesday in Milton Keynes for the inaugural Dublin Racing Festival.

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This week is the first Dublin Racing festival which he is very excited for as are we! This is a new concept and has some fantastic racing on offer and is perfect timing for the English and Irish horses. He was telling me what he is most looking forward to starting with FAUGHEEN and a very competitive Irish Arkle with FOOTPAD and PETIT MOUCHOIR who were 4th and 3rd in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham last year. Mick himself will be covering this from the studio and heading to Leopardstown on Sunday where there are four massive Grade 1 Races!

Before that though he will be at Sandown on Saturday for ITV and has a runner of his own! Mick has his own syndicate the Mick Fitzgerald Racing Club, this is a big runner for them and the race is worth £100,00. The horse won last time out at Wetherby and they are very hopeful of his chances, he’s called WESTEND STORY and runs in the 15.00 at Sandown. You can read more about Micks syndicate here.

He thought that after this weekend Cheltenham would become much clearer or even muddier!  

Racecourse Hidden Gems

Now, we all have our favourite racecourses like Ascot, Goodwood and for me Newmarket but what about the smaller courses...the hidden gems of the racing world? Ones that may even be closer to you than the bigger courses or a little further a field but are worth the journey!

Chester

The home of the footballer and the Real Housewives of Cheshire! Probably one of the most glamourous courses in the country. Ladies, you will love the people watching and the excuse to dress up, and gentlemen... I think it’s pretty obvious what you’ll enjoy! Now on top of all that the course is beautiful and steeped in history with the grandstand full of character.

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Not forgetting the main reason you would attend Chester races….there is also lots of great racing to enjoy, with plenty of meetings from May to September meaning there are ample opportunities to make a weekend or overnight stay of it. Chester itself is full of great restaurants and lovely boutiques and is surrounded by the ancient chester city walls.

To find out more and book tickets Click Here

Newcastle

Staying up north but heading a little higher this time we head to the angel of the north, well just beyond her, Newcastle.

Newcastle has a fantastic jump and all weather flat course, so has plenty to offer all year round. This makes a planning a visit even easier, depending on your preference. The course has great facilities with lots of great bars and events throughout the year! For me personally it would make a fun weekend away with a group of friends for a birthday, hen or stag party. You could go racing in the day and the head to the vibrant city centre in the evening where this is some taste tingling restaurants and buzzing bars, for whatever suits your fancy.

To find out more and book tickets Click Here

Ripon

As we head back down the A1 we stop in at Ripon, dubbed the garden racecourse you can imagine how beautiful it is. This is the perfect course for a family day out, with lawns across the course, a play area and great catering on offer it couldn’t be easier. The course has a great feel about it and set in the heart of yorkshire makes it a superb destination racecourse to.

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I love yorkshire with a historic city, stunning walks and plenty for family of all ages to find things to do. Ripon is a credit to the area and just tops off what a great place it is to visit.

To find out more and book tickets Click Here

Bath

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As we head down to the other end of the country we stop off at Bath, a classic old British town with stunning architecture and Roman Baths. The racecourse has fixtures throughout the spring and summer, with cider festivals, beer festivals, ladies days and great tribute acts plus fantastic family fun days; there is something for everyone. There is so much to offer in the town too, it makes a great day out or weekend away.

To find out more and book tickets Click Here

Lingfield

We then head right down to the bottom and just south of London is Lingfield. Conveniently just a short train journey out of London. Again with jumps and flat meetings, there is plenty of racing throughout the year. The course also has a golf course if you fancy a few rounds before racing! Or if a spa is your style, relax and indulge in the Breathe spa.

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The course has so many great events over the course of the year including some brilliant live music nights. The course also has some high grade racing holding the winter Derby trial and much more!

To find out more and book tickets Click Here

A Week in the Life of Mick Fitzgerald

Welcome to our new feature on the Racing Breaks blog, where we will be having a weekly catch up with Mick to see what a week in the Life of Mick involves. Here we will get a real insight into the racing world from a man who knows it so well and maybe steal a few tips along the way!

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It isn’t often that a busy man like Mick Fitzgerald gets to sit down for a quiet cup of tea, but I had the rare chance to chat with the racing legend about what his busy schedule had in store this week. Lets just say, poor Mick didn’t have the best start to his week... after a freezing morning filming, he returned home to find that his son’s dog, Serge, was missing. After a worrying day of an effortful search party running circles around the village, Serge was found safe and sound. Let’s hope it can only get better from here…!

Mick has a busy week of filming ahead and as previously mentioned, his week started with filming at Wetherby for At The Races. He was there to speak with Richard Guest who has a horse heading to Santa Anita in February, Richard of course was a successful jump jockey Mick was telling me, and has done very well training sprinters on the flat since his retirement as a jockey, so Mick hopes he will have a great deal of success in his second career.

Mick will then fly to Ireland Tuesday night to continue his duties filming for At The Races, this time focussing on the Dublin Racing Festival. He will be meeting some of the Irish point-to-point trainers who buy unbroken 3yr olds and turn them into pointers. Among them will be Sean Doyle who is an old friend of Micks, so he is looking forward to seeing him. Sean is fast becoming a very successful producer of young horses, so I look forward to seeing this. Mick will then stay on in Ireland for racing at Gowran Park, this is the Goff Thyestes day, one of their biggest race meetings in the calendar. Racing will be covered by At The Races so let’s hope it’s not too cold for the presenters!

After a busy week in Ireland, Mick then heads back to the UK in prep for the Cheltenham Trials day, where he will be working for ITV. Mick has his eyes on BRISTOL DE MAI and hopes to see great things from him following a disappointing run in the King George due to a stomach ulcer. The team will be hoping he performs well enough to come out as a contender for the Gold Cup. He will have his optimum race conditions on Saturday so hopefully he runs well. He also mentioned that his usual mount Daryl Jacobs won’t be riding him as he has to be elsewhere for a retained ride, so Sam Twiston-Davies will be on board.

All in all a busy week for Mick and we look forward to hearing how it all panned out after this busy weekend of Cheltenham trials!!

Ladies Day and Girly Getawats at the Races

January is not merely about detox and early nights, it’s also about enjoying the start of a New Year and planning things to look forward to.  So what better than a girly weekend away at the races?

Racing Breaks offer the best racing experiences around and with several ladies days coming up in the calendar, as well as a collection of feature days renowned for selling out a long time in advance, its a pick-me-up with a twist, and an opportunity to plan time with your girlfriends.

1) Grand National, Aintree

Coming up first is the world famous Aintree Grand National. This is a real spectacle as not only are the horses something to look at, but the incredible mixture of ladies fashion and outfit choices are always worth talking about. Grand National Ladies Day takes place this year on Friday 13th April, the day before the historic Grand National race takes place, but there is still plenty of racing action to get stuck into.

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Not only will you enjoy a day at the racecourse, but also a relaxing stay at the fabulous four star, Marriott hotel. This hotel gives you endless options to spoil yourselves with a luxurious spa experience. Meanwhile, for those wanting to spend time out on the town, Liverpool is a wonderful city bursting with energy and endless pubs, clubs, and bars to entertain your party throughout the night.

An ideal event for a hen party, Racing Breaks can organise anything you want with packages starting from just £169 per person and can be tailor made to suit you.

Check out all Grand National packages by clicking here

2) Royal Ascot, Berkshire

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Royal Ascot is the highlight of the summer, and again Ladies Day is not to be missed. Last year was one of the hottest days in the UK, so it’s summer dresses at the ready and a bottle of Champagne or jug of Pimms to choose from.  

Royal Ascot is a prestigious event which dates back to 1711, when high society would gather in top hats and tails to watch some of the finest horses battle it out on the turf. While things have changed a little since then, there is still an element of tradition to keep up with, not least a flurry of rules to follow if you wish to attend.

Hats, for example, are a must for ladies; there is normally fierce competition to wear the best, whether it be designer or homemade. The racecourse is in the middle of Ascot town, which is only a short train journey from London.

The surrounding area has plenty of hotels to ensure you have a good night's rest in between the fun and frolics of Ladies Day. Macdonald Berystede is ideal for a group with its spa to relax in. Packages start from just £189 per person, and once again we can basically tailor the experience to suit your every whim.  So start digging through the the attic to find your smartest headpiece, and begin planning your outfit for one of the hottest days in fashion and racing in 2018.

 

Explore Royal Ascot packages by clicking here

3) Ebor Festival, York

The York Ebor Festival is one of the highlights of the summer, taking place in the fabulous York Racecourse. This is the last chance to wear your summer outfit and soak up any sun before the weather turns colder.

The Ebor is known as the Ascot of the North, and features top class flat racing and eye-catching fashion as its showpiece. There are prizes to be won for the best dressed female and all standside race goers are able to visit the Ebor Fashion Lawn at the heart of the racecourse on the Edwardian Weighing room lawn. Ladies, start planning your #ClassicEbor ensemble.

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We have a selection of hotels to choose from including spa and leisure facilities to ensure a relaxing night sleep after your fun in the sun.  Make a weekend of it with a group of friends or family, and girls, don’t miss your chance to shine on Thursday 23rd August.

Check out the York Ebor festival tickets by clicking here

4) Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe, Paris

As the weather takes a turn, it would seem like the perfect time to escape and head overseas. October brings one of the best racing events in the calendar, and this year the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe will take place at the newly renovated ParisLongchamp Racecourse.

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The Arc attracts some of the most respected people in racing, from all corners of the globe, with the creme de la creme of flat horses. For those of you who are racing enthusiasts and have never visited Paris, you really are missing out. The racecourse is only a short drive outside the centre of the city, so when you are not racing there is plenty of time to explore the delights of this fashion capital.

Racing Breaks can organise extra activities for you such as boat tours, dinner in the Eiffel Tower or air balloon tours and last year our customers were given the privilege of meeting Racing Breaks Ambassador and superstar jockey, Frankie Dettori, who then went on to win the Arc on the superstar filly, Enable.

Paris is only two hours away on the Eurostar, and packages offer two to three nights of accommodation in a hotel of your choice, at a starting price of £299. Set off on a thrilling weekend full of racing and adventure, and be back in time to head to work on Monday!

Racing Breaks Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe 2018 packages can be found by clicking here

5) Music Nights

If racing doesn’t wholly fulfill you, then there are also the Jockey Club music nights to look forward to. Last year there was an A-list lineup of artists performing at different racecourses around the nation, including X-Factor stars Little Mix, Jess Glynne, Tom Jones and many more.

This year we have the one and only Craig David touring around the UK. It is a perfect way to finish a fabulous day of racing frivolities, by letting down your hair and singing your heart out to some noughties favourites.

Other musicians and performers for 2018 include The Vamps, and Chase and Status Live DJ Set, other acts are to be released soon so keep any eye on the Racingbreaks.com website as these sell out quickly!