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.
From what I can remember an advert in a local free paper for the Chelmsford City Racecourse interested me.
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.
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!)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
The races were of varying distances, with the first being a real sprint at 6 Furlongs, to the longest at 1 mile 6 furlongs.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
As well as wearing unsuitable shoes I also had an unsuitable coat – a schoolgirl error for someone who spends hours outside watching sport!
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.
The large area we were sitting in wasn’t overcrowded, but it was reasonably busy.
I chose to brave the weather to try to get some decent photos – hopefully I got a few.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
I enjoyed the evening and I think I got a few decent photos – I imagine I’ll have to go again to practice more!
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)