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Lisa Hancock answers your questions

Home Forums Archive Topics Celebrity Q&A’s Lisa Hancock answers your questions

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    Lisa Hancock is the new Managing Director of Newmarket Racecourse. One of the new generation of managers at 29 yrs old, Lisa has had 6 years of racecourse management experience, including clerk of the course at Haydock Park, manager at Warwick, and was responsible for site and track operations for the 2000 Martell Grand National, before starting at Newmarket earlier this year. She is also a successful point-to-point rider.  

    — Posted by Jay Torbitt on 3:20 pm on May 14, 2001 <br>Hi Lisa, thanks for taking time out to answer our questions!

    Does Newmarket ever have any problems with the sheer number of meetings the course holds in the flat season? <br>How hard a task is the organisation?

    It is very tough on the staff and the transfer between the Rowley Mile and the July Course is particularly difficult.

    Also are the Rowley Mile and July courses treated as two seperate courses and therefore managed and placed seperate in financial accounts, or are they treated as one concern?

    Newmarket Racecourse whilst being made up of two very distinct venues is still one registered company and as such has only one set of accounts although we do obviously split out the separate costs as accurately as possible for internal management.

    — Posted by Sal on 5:34 pm on May 14, 2001 <br>Hi Lisa One of the frequent topics of conversation on this site is racing in the UK compared to racing abroad – particularly regarding prices, facilities and betting. Have you been to many overseas racecourses, and what do you think British courses should learn from foreign racing?

    I’ve so far been racing in France, Ireland, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Oman and Bahrain – Britain has a huge amount to learn from other countries although comparing the financial structure behind the scenes can be very misleading.

    — Posted by Ardross on 6:05 pm on May 14, 2001 <br>Dear Lisa Last year I was so appalled by the lack of facilities for day members on 2000 Guineas day that I did not visit again in 2000 although I had been coming to newmarket for over 20 years four or five times a year After seeing your interview at the Craven meeting on Channel 4 I for one was pleasantly surprised by the changes made on 2000 Guineas day at least day members could get a seat . Do you have any other changes proposed for the new stand ( very difficult to get a cup of tea without standing up and being asked to dip your teabag by a bar ) and do you think that you can recapture the lost annual members ?

    We have a long term plan of improvements in place which encompasses facilites for both Members, Tatts and the Family enclosure. There are some short term measures but we are keen to concentrate on some fairly major alterations which we hope will help to increase attendances across the board.

    Also do you not think that running the Jockey Club Cup and Cesarewitch on the same day is bizarre and perhaps the unthinkable should be done and you should switch the Autumn Double

    We are in fact already looking into possible alternative dates on which the Jockey Club Cup could be run – these things take time due to the significant amount of history involved but we are heading in the right direction I hope!

    — Posted by Ex Channel4 Forumite on 7:46 pm on May 14, 2001 <br>Hi Lisa, just wanted to ask you what your job involved at the Grand National in 2000?

    I was assistant clerk of the course at Aintree and during the three day meeting was in charge of all the action in the centre of the course.  

    — Posted by micky9 on 11:23 pm on May 14, 2001 <br>hi lisa, do you think the reduction in the betting duty to 0% will have a affect on racecourse attendance? punters will not have to pay high admission costs and overpriced catering to take advantage of betting with the on course bookmakers tax free. many hundreds if not thousands will stay away have you any plans to combat this with more marketing or lower admission prices?

    This is obviously something which will affect the whole racing industry and not just Newmarket – it will be up to all the racecourses to make sure that the true raceday visit is good value for money and good entertainment otherwise we will undoubtedly suffer.

    — Posted by michael on 11:56 am on May 15, 2001 <br>Hi Lisa Do you think its about time that racegoers should have seats to sit on instead of dirty steps and grass or would it cost too much money to build grandstands with seats in. Thanks for answering our questions.  

    Without doubt racecourses now need to provide better facilites for their customers and this includes the need for plenty of seating. I am aware that the Rowely Mile racecourse is criticised for not having enough seating and this is something we are now tackling.

    — Posted by guskennedy on 12:41 pm on May 15, 2001<br> I’d like to ask you, Lisa, what plans if any there are for providing some form of elevated viewing for ordinary Grandstand customers.  The new stand provides none and there are only nineteen steps – I’ve counted them – at ground floor level on which to stand.  For all its faults the old stand did provide a terrific view of the action from on high.  I appreciate this is not a problem of your making but one you’ve inherited but from the number of disgruntled punters I’ve spoken to over the past year or so it’s not an issue that’s going to go away. Thank you in anticipation of your reply and for what it’s worth I disagree with the tenor of Laura Thompson’s recent Racing Post article about yobbishness at the Guineas meeting (which I attended).  This is a problem for society as a whole and it is no worse at Newmarket than anywhere else.  

    We are already underway with plans to extend the level of elevated steppings in the Tatts enclosure – I am conscious that the viewing is currently not as good as it should be and we will over time improve this situation significantly.

    — Posted by Steve M on 1:17 pm on May 15, 2001 <br>The Rowley Mile course is my favourite race track in the world, but for the first time in my life I actually find myself agreeing with some of what Laura Thompson has to say (today’s Post). The Millennium Stand is an unmitigated disaster. Far from solving the perceived need for a face lift the new stand makes things ten times worse for everyone except those least interested in what is taking place. The stand is entirely given over to corporate lunches and banks of unused press seats, presumably because they are all in the bar. Just look at the photo on page ten of today’s Post to see how few people use (or are allowed to use) the stands facilities, and how many are excluded. Even as an owner trying to get a glimpse of my horse going down from a resonable vantage point I am turned away by a none too prepossessing security guard with the instruction "you are not entitled to be in this stand" and are referred to the owners and trainers bar, at ground level, behind the old stand which has no view of the racecourse. My question to Lisa is, does she even acknowledge that there is a problem and if she does what is she going to do about it? Recent visits to the course have been thoroughly unenjoyable experiences, whether I have been going as an owner or as a day member. Ms Thompson says that "Newmarket is shooting itself in the foot every time it allows itself to be overcome by greed and fear". I agree with every word of what Laura has to say. <br>Regards

    All of us at Newmarket are aware that the Millennium Grandstand has various shortcomings; as I’ve said above we do already have plans to increase steppings in both Members and Tatts together with a number of other improvements including additional seating.

    — Posted by Daylight on 2:07 pm on May 15, 2001<br> Hello Lisa and thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. I have only been to Newmarket once (Cambridgeshire ’99) to the July course and since then I have vowed never to return again! At the time my wife was 6 months pregnant and was experiencing sevre back ache to boot, but we always wanted to go to flat racings HQ and when the chance came along we took it. We paid the standard/cheapest fee to get in of £10 each and were greeted by a sea of people half of which had a plastic pint glass in one hand, walking to the grandstand took a long time and we got there only to find no seats for my wife to sit in (even the cold concrete steps were taken) and as usual nobody offered her a seat so she could take a break! After walking right down to the very bottom of the hill where we found some temorary errected stands (no cover) we finally got a seat on a very cold day exposed to the elements which of course now included wind & rain! The place where this temp stand was nothing more than a field and with the rain made it real fun to try to walk on, after the third race we had decided we had seen enough of Newmarket and carefully tried to get back to our car without my wife slipping on the muddy surface. Suffice to say we will not be tempted back to Newmarket until the facilities are at best standard, the problem quite clearly to me, was that too many people were allowed into the course and the facilities (I use the term loosely) couldn’t cope. The greed of getting people through the gate instead of limiting it to copeable figures was evident to me. The reason why I am so passionate is that the next week we went to Leicester & Stratford racecourses and it was completely the opporsite – I know the meetings were not as popular but it was busy and we were not hoarded into a field like sheep in desperation of finding a spare seat. I know you were not responsible for Newmarket at that time, but what has changed since this meeting and what are your planned solutions to repair the most basic of problems, if any? <br>Thanks Lisa

    Please see answers above.

    — Posted by Cara on 5:47 pm on May 15, 2001 <br>hi there lisa!              <br>i must say a very big well done for landing the job!! You must be soo thrilled! well anyway my question is what are you going to do for the younger generation of race goers im meaning the age of 16-21? And are you going to change the new grandstand to try and accomodate for more people as i feel you places where you can sit! and can i say i love the friday nights racing over on the july course! it has a true atmosphere keep them coming

    The July course has a unique atmosphere and the Friday nights are a very important ingredient into the success of this course. We plan to maintain the same basic format but to constantly look to freshen up the product with discreet changes.

    — Posted by Zoz on 6:25 pm on May 15, 2001<br> Hi Lisa, and thanks! Right here goes…last year I did my work experience at the Rowley Mile sales office during the July Meeting and I swear it was a brilliant experience and as a career I would love to follow it up if I got the opportunity. With sixth form coming up this Autumn, could you enlighten me a little as to the kind of qualifications you have personally and also to what are the basic and fundamental qualifications that would help me to get back to the course as an employee one day? <br>Also, what do you enjoy and disklike about the job so far? <br>Thanks again!

    Oh, and if you get the chance, please tell Gaynor, Miranda, Helyne and Margaret in the sales office hello from Tia! :laugh: they’re lovely people! All the best for the season Zoz

    I personally have a BSc in Rural Land Management – a pretty general degree covering tax, accounting, law , land management etc.The key is to gain as much experience as possible although I do appreciate that this is not always easy.If you are particularly keen on the commercial/sales/marketing side experience in that is vital.

    — Posted by griff11 on 10:27 pm on May 15, 2001<br> Hi Lisa, from the above postings Newmarket seems to be getting a fair amount of criticism regarding its facilities for the racing enthusiast. Here at Woodbine, I have free admission (at any meeting), free car parking, ample seating inside and out, with a truely excellent buffet seated overlooking the racetrack at an extremely reasonable (cheap) price. Do you think that a change in the structure of racing in the UK by having a Tote only off course, such as in North America, would then give you and other courses the scope to vastly improve your facilties up to the standard of the modern day world. Regards, <br>Griff.

    Certainly such a radical change in the funding of British racing would be a huge help however the whole infrastructure of horseracing here in the UK is very different to that in America and it would be a huge step to alter it to the extent you propose.The media deal nearly completed here should enable British racing the opportunity to invest in its own product quite significantly in the next few years.

    — Posted by Kathy on 8:38 am on May 16, 2001<br> Hi Lisa and thanks for taking the time out to answer our questions. :wave: I am very impressed at how quickly you have risen through the ranks and still only 29 years old. Having risen through the ranks so quickly (and more importantly as you are a woman in her twenties) did you ever suffer from any bitterness or discrimination from any of your work colleagues (male or female) either directly or indirectly on your way to your current high powered, and probably much sought after position? Also, You must work extrememly long hours in your position as Managing Director. Do you still find time to have a life away from racing and manage to continue with your passion for horseriding? Thanks for your time Lisa, and keep up the good work!  Its so refreshing to see more and more women climbing the ranks  in horseracing of what was once deemed as a very male orientated sport :clap:

    No doubt there are a few people who are keen to knock me however I have always been very focused and my one goal has been to get into racecourse management.It is a demanding job and I like to think that I set myself high standards as a consequence I am working very hard at the moment and just for the time being my own riding has had to be put on hold.

     — Posted by Ardross on 12:21 am on May 17, 2001<br> Sorry Lisa I forgot to add. I was very concerned at the inefficient security on Saturday. The gangways were blocked during races and the sparse number of very skinny security staff were totally incapable of moving them. This is a very serious safety issue. had there been a fire it would have been carnage. Do you have any proposals to stop a recurrence ? Your observations concern me because security is obviously very high in our list of priorities. We employed three different security firms for the Sagitta Guineas meeting at a level well above the recommendation of the Local Authoriries however we will review this again and if necessary will increase these levels further.

    <br>  — Posted by Katy on 7:59 pm on May 17, 2001<br>Hi Lisa, Thanks again for answering our questions.:clap: Firstly I would like to ask, if you werent doing the job you are doing, what would be your ideal career, would you have stayed in racing or something totally different. Also, if you could have owned any racehorse, for whatever reason, who would it be and why? Thanks very much and good luck in the future. <br>Katy

    I guess that if it hadn’t worked out for me in racing I would have sought a job in Agriculture although that industry is having a really tough time at the moment.If I was able to own a racehorse it would probably be a NH horse and I would want it trained by Ferdie Murphy who in my opinion never ever rushes his horses and trains in a fantastic location.

    — Posted by Sal on 11:19 am on May 20, 2001 <br>Quick question I’ve been curious about for a while….. Who gets to pick the bands for the July course Friday night meetings??

    We are advised by the Cambridge Corn Exchange and the final decision is taken by our own internal  management. It is always very difficult trying to pick the right band who has a wide enough appeal whilst still remaining within our budget.Are we getting it right??!!

    — Posted by Jay Torbitt on 1:48 pm on May 20, 2001<br>Just another quick question to put you on the spot Lisa…do you use the internet often, and have you ever visited The Racing Forum? If you do use the Internet, which horse racing related sites do you use most often? Thanks again.

    Primarily I go into the Racing Post site although it will be to  find a specific bit of information rather than just for a quick browse.

    — Posted by griff11 on 9:17 pm on May 21, 2001<br>Hi Lisa, You have certainly put your head on the block by coming forward for this Q & A session. On a positive note, it should give you some ideas as to how the general racegoer views racing at Newmarket and where some efforts could be directed to retify those complaints. Back to the question of facilities for me again, if you get the chance, can you read ‘Chit Chat II’, Topic – Track Food, Posting #7. Can you explain why there is such a differential between the prices at Woodbine and those that Newmarket offer.

    Please see above for funding differences.Thank you for taking the time to join us on this Forum, your contribution is very welcome. <br>Griff.

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    Thanx lisa

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    Thanks Lisa, nice of you to take the time, also thanks Sal and Daylight for doing the groundwork! :buddy:

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    Well done Sal & Daylight for organising this Q & A session. I found it very informative and I am Sure Lisa did also.

    It was good to see some very encouraging responses from Lisa.

    Thank you Lisa.

    keep up the good work.


    Steve M
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    Lisa talks a good response. Let’s see how she delivers. One thing’s for sure she has a big job in restoring Newmarket to Britain’s greatest racecourse after the way it has been buggered up.

    Jay Torbitt
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    Well done to Lisa for trawling through all our questions, the replies were very informative. I agree, Lisa does seem to have a good "business brain", and she had some encouraging responses there. The coming 12 months or so will see how far Newmarket really can progress.

    Thanks to Daylight and Sal for their work. :armbounce:

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