Sandown Park 10/08/17 - An Evening at the Races With Olly Murs

What a night! An evening races followed up by a live performance from Olly Murs. Not too bad for a Thursday. However, the evening didn’t start off so well. Being my clumsy-self I inevitably forgot the tickets (if you knew me, you really wouldn’t be surprised about this), only realising my mistake as our taxi pulled into the racecourse. Red-faced, and about 10 minutes before the first race, I politely asked the lady behind the ticket desk if they could reissue me the tickets. Thankfully, there was no problem and we were granted access. Phew.

Quickly scattering to the track, about 3 minutes before the race begun, we took up our position on the grass verge. With the sun beaming down, I fancied my chances. Epsom had been very kind to me the previous week with a number of favourites claiming victory. Surely it couldn’t be the same two weeks in a row? 18/1 longshot Victors Bet was where my money was at. In all honesty, the odds reflected the horse's performance. After a slow start, it never really challenged the leaders finishing stone-dead-last. The winner of the race was the 5/2 favourite Canberra Cliffs.

Not too worry, I thought, Epsom had started in similar fashion the previous week and I did well there. Following my own advise (backing the favourites), I proceeded to back Highland Mary (Evs, F) in the second. For me, this race sums up betting experience. Leading over 3f out, Highland Mary soon dropped away and last by halfway, tailed off over 1f out, finishing… Last. The winner of this race was Santorini Sun (9/1). Oddly, a loud roar went up when this horse rode for home. Clearly, a lot of people had been to Santorini on their holidays!

Ah, I thought. By this point I was determined the pick a winner for the next. A quick trip to the parade ring convinced me where I should put my money. The handsome Cassini (11/2) looked the horse to beat for me. How foolish was I. A slow start saw Cassini struggling from the off. Despite this, he was in touch with the last trio finishing third. Perhaps a quicker track and a better start may have seen this horse finishing in a stronger position. Certainly one to keep an eye out for in the future. The winner of this race was the 8/11F Dubhe. Obvious one to back in hindsight.

Now, by this point I was thoroughly depressed. 3/3 losers. Knowing my time for backing a winner was imminent, I went big on Time Chaser (5/4, F), after conducting my research on the Racing Post app (highly recommend downloading this app). A nervy race saw jockey Kieran Shoemark tracking the leaders. Leading with 2f to go, Time Chaser was always holding the rivals. Finally! A winner. Although not condoning chasing your losses by any means, in this particular scenario it worked.

High spirited, the next race was perhaps too hard to call. Not wanting to lose any more money, I decided to not place a bet on this race. And my hunch was right. 12/1 outsider Black Bess jockeyed by apprentice jockey Paddy Bradley. Bradley rode an eye catching race heading the pack 2f out, keeping on strongly winning the race. Again, another one to look out for in the future.

With the sun setting over the Surrey countryside, it was time for the final race. Wealth Tax (6/4) was a strong favourite here. Having placed my bet, the theme of the favourites claiming victory continued. Tracking the leaders, Wealth Tax closed in centre over 2f out, ridden to lead just over 1f out, keeping on to secure victory.

Now it was time for the legend that is Olly Murs. A swarm of people headed towards the stage in order to try attain the best view to see him. The performance was rather enjoyable, knowing all the songs he performed. Perhaps my favourite part of the performance was towards the latter stages where Olly performed classic songs from the 70s, 80s and 90s! This really got the crowd going.

The aim of the project when it was first thought up was to showcase to people that there is more to racing than just going to watch some horses run. If there was ever a race day that prove this stigma untrue yesterday was the day. A day filled with sunshine, laughs and enjoyment was topped off by an outstanding music performance by an international artist. Race days such as these keep the burning love for the sport alive.

Sam Hitchmough