Although the majority of my ‘Events’ will involve rugby of both codes and cricket I’m going to try and get a few other sports in there.

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From what I can remember an advert in a local free paper for the Chelmsford City Racecourse interested me.

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The course at Great Leighs just outside of Chelmsford, and 15 minutes maximum from where I live, opened in April 2008 but quickly went into administration.

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It was the first entirely new racecourse in the UK since Taunton opened in 1927.  The course is an 8.5 furlong left handed polytrack (?) oval with a 2 furlong long home straight.  (Thank you Wikipedia!)

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When I looked at the website it was only £15 to buy before the event, £17 on the day – that was too reasonable not to give it a go.  A quick check with my partner in crime at times, Monica and 2 tickets were bought.

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I’d never been to watch racing, but I am a huge fan of horses, they’re such beautiful animals!  It felt like a chance to get some photos of thoroughbred horse at the very least, and spend a few hours with a good friend too.

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The racecourse really is very near to home, Monica drove and we arrived in plenty of time.  It was easy to park, and free which is always a bonus.

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I had no concept of what the place would be like, both Monica (who is really Scottish) and I (who is really Essex) had done our best to seem like Essex girls – we both had unsuitable shoes.

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It was a relief that other than having to walk across the track – consisting of sand and shizzle (in Monica’s words!) the whole thing is concrete and perfectly suitable for unsuitable shoes!

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We were directed around the back of the Grandstand to go to the main reception – one criticism I would make is that there wasn’t anyone to direct us further or any signs – several people clearly had no idea where said main reception was.

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We were lucky to find 2 stools/seats with a view, we should’ve booked to sit in the restaurant in retrospect, but, in need of food we ordered from The Grill Kitchen instead.

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We both picked the healthy option of The Butterfly Chicken Burger with a not so healthy portion of chips, which we shared.  The burger was tasty and as advertised – the food was also very much served with a smile!

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The races were of varying distances, with the first being a real sprint at 6 Furlongs, to the longest at 1 mile 6 furlongs.

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Similarly the prize money for the winner went from £3234 to £12938.  I imagine keeping a horses and the people needed to get them in the best condition must cost fortunes, but nearly £13k seems pretty good to me.

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The evening was it has to be said, pretty unpleasant on the whole, we were lucky that the rain stayed away, but goodness it was windy and chilly!

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I found out that what I’d thought was true – it’s quite hard to get decent photos of horses running!  I had a fair few photos of the back of horses by the time I got home.

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It was interesting to watch what was going on with the betting – there were a couple of big companies there I think, but at the end we were sitting there were 4 stands with smaller set ups.

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To start I wondered why people were keeping their distance and watching from afar, but I imagine that was to keep an eye on the different odds being offered by each company.

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As well as wearing unsuitable shoes I also had an unsuitable coat – a schoolgirl error for someone who spends hours outside watching sport!

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The restaurant was full I believe, which is pretty impressive considering the racecourse in it’s new guise has only been in operation for 4 months.

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The large area we were sitting in wasn’t overcrowded, but it was reasonably busy.

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I chose to brave the weather to try to get some decent photos – hopefully I got a few.

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I was told by a couple who’d been at Newmarket that this wasn’t ‘real’ racing, but it seemed to be horses racing to me!  I imagine not to the scale of Newmarket, but yep, horse racing it was!

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There were 7 races on the card – I confess that as we were on a ‘school’ night – (we do both actually work in a school) we didn’t stay for them all.

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It took me a little while to realise where I needed to stand to get as close to the horses as I could, what incredibly beautiful creatures they are!  I had seen a Thoroughbred up close before but never so many in one place.

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It was good to see those who were involved in parading the horses then leading them out enjoying the races and clearly being so pleased when their horse won.

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Monica and I just had the one bet – that wasn’t really what the evening was about for us.  oh, we both lost!  My horse Welsh Gem, was 2nd favourite I think, but certainly didn’t win.

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The benefits of the course being just outside of Chelmsford meant it felt fine to go along for just a few hours, it was good to be home at a reasonable time, enabling me to write this for example,

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I enjoyed the evening and I think I got a few decent photos – I imagine I’ll have to go again to practice more!

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A few facts –

  • Cost of Ticket                                      £15.00
  • Original Angus Burger 8oz/12oz    £ 5.50/£8.00
  • OA Cheeseburger  8oz/12oz            £ 6.00/£9.00
  • OA Bacon Burger 8oz/12oz             £ 7.50/£10.00
  • The Portobello Burger                     £ 5.50
  • Butterfly Chicken Burger                £ 5,.50
  • Chips                                                   £ 3.00
  • Teapig’s Tea                                      £ 2.00
  • Drury Filter Coffee                          £ 2.50
  • Hot Chocolate                                  £ 2.50
  • Water 500ml                                    £ 2.00
  • Soft Drinks                                       £ 2.50

There was a bar, but I was too bust taking photos of horses to spot the prices, next time maybe!

Best/Nicest moments – really were the same, seeing such amazing animals up close (time spent with Monica too as always)

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