To conclude a summer of racing for myself, Lingfield Park was my final destination. On one hand there was a feeling of sadness that the summer flat racing is over until its return next summer. On the other, there is so much more to look forward to in terms of jumps in the coming months.
Being a mid-week late September AW meet at Lingfield, I’m sure you can imagine the numbers were dwindling somewhat. However, you need to take the positives out of these situations. Not only was it a pleasantly warm day, being one of the smaller daytime race meets, you get your ‘real’ racing fans attending. This always makes for a cracking awe about these courses.
My day started off being introduced to the marketing manager at Lingfield, Tom Rose, who was happy to show me around. I had been to Lingfield a few times previously but wanted to get a deeper, richer feel about the place. Tom showed me the way around the course, which I was very grateful of. He dropped me off in the press box where I set up shop.
The racing kicked off at 2:00. By this point the sun was directly overhead and a good feeling of a successful afternoon of betting could be felt around the course. Oh how wrong could people's feelings be. The winner of the first was Harry Bentley onboard 6/1 shot Dream Mount - and literally not a single cheer in the grandstand came up when he crossed the line. Quite a strange situation to experience truth be told. The same happened in the second. 6/1 shot Connaught Ranger claimed victory. This time, however, you could hear the screech of one lady frantically screaming as she was informed her horse had in fact…. placed.
So, an unfortunate start for most involved at the racecourse. However, as I went and purchased my first ever non-alcoholic drink at a racecourse (I wish I was lying here but I am not), I scanned the race card for some winners. Favourite Alternate Route (13/8) was the standout pick for the 3rd & so I proceeded to place my bet on him. This 2 mile handicap saw the group cluster around the left hand side of the track until 5f out where they pack went for it. Drawing about 8l clear with 2f to go was Alternate Rock. Result! This time around a cheer went up around the grandstand.
The rest of the day went on in similar fashion. Highs and lows for most people. However, at the end of the day everyone leaves on a high when the sun is shining, drinks are flowing and you’re winning money (at least occasionally). My objective when I started this project was to show people that there is more to these smaller race meets than just the racing, and I think I have certainly achieved this. Now, bring on the jumps!