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  • #20637
    moehat
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    • Total Posts 7835

    Does anyone frequent this lovely little track? We went there today, as part of our ‘World tour of British Racetracks’.It was some sort of family day, so there were tents full of strange rides and fairground games; somewhat surreal [felt like a day trip to Skeggie but with the quaint wooden buildings making me feel as if I was on the set of David Copperfield; and I just can’t get the smell of donuts out of me nose]. Always judge the actual interest in racing itself by the number of people who go down to the last fence; there were plenty of them, and a very pleasant and knowledgeable crowd they were, too. Strange place, the last fence. You stand on a mound looking down on the fence and there are sort of drainage ditches running parallel with the track, so it was a bit like Bechers Brook at a funny angle. Half expected Hereward the Wake to appear at any minute. Did wonder how many loose horses had ended up in the ditch over the years. Was a nice mix of winning trainers, with NTD and Henderson winning 2 each, but a couple of one man and his dog establishments winning the others [hope they’re not offended by me saying so]. Definately want to go again.

    #384705
    graysonscolumngraysonscolumn
    Participant
    • Total Posts 6939

    Heh-heh, I’m sure Ed de Giles, Richard Ford and John Flint will forgive you, Moe!

    My favourite meetings at Leicester are the all-chase ones, just because that’s what I like and because they assume the role of some sort of quasi-Point-to-Point fixture (even before one considers the number of hunter chases sprinkled throughout them).

    Plus it’s always nice to see a proper testing, galloping track in use – one not afraid to comprise a ten-fence circuit with proper, Cheltenham-style white wooden-framed fences, a water jump and a sapping run-in.

    Clerk of the course Jimmy Stevenson described today’s Silver Fox meeting as the highlight of the course’s jumps season. I hope Richard Hunnisett was covering his ears at the time! Per a paragraph I wrote for the 2010-11 season review in this year’s

    Mackenzie and Harris

    that had to be edited out on space grounds:

    "A word or two in passing on the “Mallard”, for not without reason could it be regarded as the highlight of Leicester’s National Hunt programme nowadays. Moved a month forward to a slot in mid-February from which it – along with the Dunraven Welsh Foxhunters at Ffos Las a day later – stands every chance of developing into a genuine Cheltenham Foxhunter trial over the coming years, the fact it retained its status as the best-endowed hunter of the season outside of Cheltenham, Aintree and Stratford with a prize pot totalling £15,000 despite racing’s (and in particular Leicester’s own) straitened economic climate speaks volumes for the generosity of race sponsor and Mallard Pawnbrokers owner Richard Hunnisett."

    With the demise of the 2m4.5f minor conditions chase last run at the course’s early January meeting in 2008 (won by Jack The Giant – remember him?) and replaced with a workaday novice contest when the meeting next beat the elements in 2011, the "Mallard" is now the only class 2 event that Leicester puts on.

    Moreover, for reasons outlined above, this race’s significance as a Cheltenham pointer could only grow and grow in the years to come – there aren’t too many other races held there about which the same could be rightly claimed, and certainly neither of today’s big-field handicaps.

    Be that all as it may. I love Leicester and wish I could get to it more often. Doing the post-analysis for it today was the next best thing, mind. PaulO was there in person and we’ve since compared notes on That Facebook That They Have Now – what did you make of the day’s action, Moe? In no particular order, I concluded:

    1) Loose Preformer impressed me plenty, though he still seems nearly as raw and immature as he did when winning a Barbury maiden Point under Jerry McGrath in April 2010. The mistakes and the propensity to go straight on at bends can be worked on, I hope.

    2) Cootehill and Forty Five have to be kept to 2m4f or thereabouts now. In the case of the former, being kept to longer courses like this might also be sensible, as this frequently messy jumper had more time to organise himself today than is often the case.

    3) Black Noddy wins nothing until calming the flip down.

    4) Grams And Ounces already has 12-7 to carry in his next intended race at Warwick on Saturday, for which he is definitely an intended runner after today! It’s still the third quick run in barely a week that will concern me more than either the weight or the opposition, though (it’s a 0-100 compared to today’s 0-125).

    gc

    The patron saint of lower-grade fare. A gently critical friend of point-to-pointing. Kindness is a political act.

    #384768
    moehat
    Participant
    • Total Posts 7835

    Didn’t really get to see much, being rooted at the last fence for most of the afternoon and not being able to hear the commentary from there. I’d made a note that Paddy Brennan had a good record at Leicester, and it had crossed my mind that it was from when he rode for NTD; after NTD and Sam had won 2 yesterday I assume that is the case. It was quite a lark watching Madam Molly [who had been playing up in the parade ring] being led down to the start oooh so slowly by her lad, only to refuse to take part in the race. Everyone around me was convinced that would happen and found it very amusing. I was pleased to see Grams and Ounces win, because his lass was one of those handlers that was talking to her horse all the way round the paddock in a particularly caring and reassuring way; I always like to see that. I rather fell in love with Tiptoeaway, and there was a horse with the biggest blaze I’ve ever seen which made me wonder how he must have looked when he was born. That’s the extent of my observations, I’m afraid. Don’t think Timeform will be on the phone to employ me! Couldn’t work out where the winners enclosure was; in the ‘posh bit’ perhaps

    . Glad we went in the tea room [the one up the steps] because we read afterwards that it was closing down. Could’ve spent the afternoon there quite happily; one telly with the Irish racing on, and the other with the English. Disappointed that the old building in the centre of the track that we’d read about was no longer there. Hope nobody comes up with a cunning plan to ‘improve’ the place, because it’s a little gem and deserves to stay that way.

    #384771
    stodge
    Member
    • Total Posts 92

    Just as an aside, I saw JACK THE GIANT win his first chase, a 2-mile at Sandown’s first meeting. Thought he was superb and backed him each-way for the Arkle immediately after.

    As for Leicester, I’ve been there for both Flat and NH meetings. It’s not a bad journey on the train from London and then a bus or taxi to the track (though I have walked back to the station a couple of times).

    Facilities-wise, it’s second division at best and could be so much better. In terms of racing, it is for me primarily an early-season Flat track but as others have said, the all-chase meetings are a delight. I went to the all-hunter chase meeting which was on a Tuesday at one time – now Friday I think.

    It reminds me a lot of Folkestone – or does Folkestone remind me of Leicester ?

    #384773
    paulostermeyerpaulostermeyer
    Participant
    • Total Posts 4607

    Couldn’t work out where the winners enclosure was;

    It’s in the "main enclosure" area Mo and is close to the parade ring, backing onto the stand and by the weighing room entrance.

    If you are on the steppings besides the parade ring, look to the right and you will see the winners enclosure.

    in the ‘posh bit’ perhaps

    .

    To call anything at Leicester "posh" is pushing the description to the limits – not saying that is a bad thing though. Leicester get a lot of flack in some quarters but I actually have a soft spot for the place. It is not pretentious, on the "normal" days there is a small but knowledgeable crowd for the jump meetings.

    Yesterday’s crowd was one of the biggest I have seen there, outside the big Summer meetings.

    I was in the ‘posh bit’ but only because that is where the Press Room is.

    Incidentally Leicester only have split enclosures for their biggest meetings – it is a single enclosure for the majority.

    Glad we went in the tea room [the one up the steps] because we read afterwards that it was closing down. Could’ve spent the afternoon there quite happily; one telly with the Irish racing on, and the other with the English.

    I only found out about the demise of the tea room yesterday and am most disappointed. Ironically yesterday is the busiest I have ever seen the tea room, usually you see one or two couples in there and that’s it.

    The tea room and the Aberdeen Angus Hot Roll man are the two biggest plus points at the course.

    Hope nobody comes up with a cunning plan to ‘improve’ the place, because it’s a little gem and deserves to stay that way.

    I’m not aware of anything – my only worry is the old members stand has seen better days but it is full of character and it would be a shame to see it go.

    #384787
    moehat
    Participant
    • Total Posts 7835

    How far is it from the station, stodge? Hadn’t thought of using the train. Can’t believe that a track surrounded by houses could have such a country feel to it, but then Leicester is real proper horse country, is it not. The old stand must surely have a preservation order on it. It’s beautiful.

    #384791
    moehat
    Participant
    • Total Posts 7835

    Blimey. I’ve just been flicking through the race card, and have found a ‘2 for 1 entry to jump fixtures of your choice throughout Jan, Feb or March’…and that after we’d been saying what good value yesterday had been!

    #384792
    stodge
    Member
    • Total Posts 92

    How far is it from the station, stodge? Hadn’t thought of using the train. Can’t believe that a track surrounded by houses could have such a country feel to it, but then Leicester is real proper horse country, is it not.

    I’m not sure if it’s still the case but there was a direct bus from the station up to the course. The course is at Oadby, a couple of miles out of the city. I remember a no.30 bus going up to the course but there may be others. This is a regular service rather than one put on just for racegoers.

    Plenty of cabs available certainly on a midweek afternoon and, as I say, the walk is two miles, fairly level and fairly straight. Well sign-posted too if memory serves.

    Quickest trains from St Pancras are about an hour to Leicester. For a 2pm start, a midmorning train is fine.

    #384816
    CrustyPatch
    Participant
    • Total Posts 916

    In many course guides and reviews, it is often said that the viewing at Leicester is bad, with one of them saying there was "too much head-on racing, which provides absolutely no spectacle at all".
    On the few occasions I have been to Leicester many years ago, I found the viewing bad and couldn’t even hear the commentary, despite trying different places. Don’t know if the situation is any better now.
    Mind you, in the case of Cartmel, in particular, the viewing is appalling but people still love the place. Perhaps many people aren’t too bothered by poor viewing, as long as they enjoy the day and get what they want out of it in terms of atmosphere and value for money.
    I have always found that other middle-ranking Midlands course, Nottingham, a pretty depressing place. But even that course has its devotees, notably ex-commentator Graham Goode who, despite living near Leicester, seems to prefer Nottingham.
    So much so that he became a director at Nottingham and a cheerleader for it in the days when the course was televised about once a year on Channel 4, with him as the commentator, of course.

    #384826
    moehat
    Participant
    • Total Posts 7835

    I think us East Midlanders must like being depressed, because I love Nottingham and Southwell! I can see what you mean about the head on view at Leicester, but I suppose that my criteria for a good day at the races is a] being able to go to the last fence [where I can eat me sandwiches..but don’t tell anyone that], b] a friendly, knowledgeable crowd that aren’t drunk, c]no ‘strip searching’ at the turnstiles..so I can take me sandwiches in and d] a nice view of the paddock so I can watch the horses and do a bit of earwigging. We heard one jockey say to the horse’s lass ‘not seen you for a while’, the reply being ‘I’ve had the flu’, at which point everyone around us turned to each other and said ‘well, keep away from us then…’.

    #384851
    CrustyPatch
    Participant
    • Total Posts 916

    I think us East Midlanders must like being depressed, because I love Nottingham and Southwell!

    I used to love my trips to Southwell in the days when it was a quiet country course in the middle of nowhere and was reached by a lovely country drive through the countryside to the villages of Fiskerton and Rolleston.
    As a young shaver, I once hitch-hiked all the way there from my home two hours away. I was dropped off by a lorry on the outskirts of Newark and was luckily given a lift from the roundabout on the outskirts of Newark to the course itself.
    A matronly woman, who by chance was going to the races, took pity on my plight and stopped her car to offer me a lift. Good job she did because I hadn’t realised at the time just how off the beaten track the course was.
    I have been only once since Southwell became an all-weather course. The new grandstand might be far superior to the old wooden, very low, shed-like stands of the old Southwell but I thought the place had lost a lot of its charm.
    They even seemed to send you a different way to get to the course and I remember a very long, straight, Tarmac entrance road which certainly wasn’t there in the old days.
    The angle and view of the new stands didn’t seem brilliant, either.
    The day ended on a sour note when my youthful desire to back a seemingly unbeatable course specialist in Suluk came badly unstuck. The horse had won a whole string of races at Southwell and I thought he was a licence to print money when he was odds-on favourite in a three-horse race to win his umpteenth race there.
    Needless to say, he was a well-beaten third and struggled all the way before duly finishing a tailed-off third.
    I do remember being impressed with the number of catering outlets and shops at Southwell under the all-weather transformation, however.

    a friendly, knowledgeable crowd that aren’t drunk

    I presume you keep well away from Haydock’s big Saturday and evening meetings, then. Beer swilling was always a feature of those a few years ago, I seem to remember. Don’t know whether it’s still the same. York’s similar fixtures also got a bad reputation for drunken yobbery at one stage.

    #384857
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    • Total Posts 17718

    Strange that, Mo, as I’ve always thought Leicester the missing link between Nottingham and a cow byre.
    Poor catering, poor view, and bookmakers that wouldn’t lay 2 bananas – but that’s a while back now, for obvious reasons.

    #384867
    paulostermeyerpaulostermeyer
    Participant
    • Total Posts 4607

    I presume you keep well away from Haydock’s big Saturday and evening meetings, then. Beer swilling was always a feature of those a few years ago, I seem to remember. Don’t know whether it’s still the same. York’s similar fixtures also got a bad reputation for drunken yobbery at one stage.

    York is still the same most meetings, I refuse point blank to attend any weekend or Festival meetings there. There are a couple of quieter midweek meetings which are tolerable.

    I avoid Newcastle weekend meetings for the same reason, although I seem to have managed to get pencilled in for one in June, which I will have to rectify. I know a couple of journos who have told their editors they would resign rather than go to any of Newecastle’s big weekend meets.

    As for Chester, that is one course where I would not be at all upset if I never went there again.

    Lest I be accused of a Northern bias Newmarket (especially the Rowley Mile course) is becoming quite an obnoxious place at far too many meetings.

    #384872
    moehat
    Participant
    • Total Posts 7835

    ‘The missing link between Nottingham and a cow byre’ is probably a very good description but is, had I not now already been to the place, one that I would find strangely alluring….

    #384903
    CrustyPatch
    Participant
    • Total Posts 916

    I presume you keep well away from Haydock’s big Saturday and evening meetings, then. Beer swilling was always a feature of those a few years ago, I seem to remember. Don’t know whether it’s still the same. York’s similar fixtures also got a bad reputation for drunken yobbery at one stage.

    York is still the same most meetings, I refuse point blank to attend any weekend or Festival meetings there. There are a couple of quieter midweek meetings which are tolerable.
    I avoid Newcastle weekend meetings for the same reason, although I seem to have managed to get pencilled in for one in June, which I will have to rectify. I know a couple of journos who have told their editors they would resign rather than go to any of Newecastle’s big weekend meets.
    As for Chester, that is one course where I would not be at all upset if I never went there again.
    Lest I be accused of a Northern bias Newmarket (especially the Rowley Mile course) is becoming quite an obnoxious place at far too many meetings.

    Generally speaking, I far prefer quiet days than big, prestigious days, simply because I like to move about in comfort without being jostled.
    I know it’s heresy but, for that reason, I would never consider going to the Cheltenham Festival because the heaving crowds would simply make it a nightmare for me, no matter how good the quality of the racing or the atmosphere of being part of a big occasion.
    I’ve been to plenty of the other meetings at Cheltenham and have enjoyed them, however. The one time I went to the Grand National, it was a far from pleasant experience because we got buried among the masses and didn’t see or hear hardly anything of any of the races.
    I went to all five days of Glorious Goodwood a couple of times but didn’t have any problems there because I paid to be in the members’ enclosure.
    These days, I prefer quiet jumping days. I deliberately picked a fairly quiet midweek jumping day when I went to Ffos Las in August to complete my full set of racecourses. It made all the difference but, even then, it was quite busy.

    ‘The missing link between Nottingham and a cow byre’ is probably a very good description but is, had I not now already been to the place, one that I would find strangely alluring….

    The last time I went to Nottingham in the 1980s, the stands and woodwork everywhere were painted a ghastly light blue.

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