Racecourses disregard for fans of the sport

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  • #1310344
    • Total Posts 2013

    I journeyed to Newmarket yesterday and bar my horrendous betting I had an enjoyable day helped by the quality of the racing and exciting finishes.

    I am however, getting absolutely sick to death of racecourses blatant disregard for anyone who goes to the races for the racing. The July course isn’t the best viewing track as it is but imagine my annoyance when I first went up into the only grandstand available to non-Premier ticket holders and found that my view of the course was massively impeded by the ‘Final Furlong’ bar which had the most indefensibly high tent. This meant that after 10 minutes of wondering around the grandstand the best view I could find meant that I could not see about 170-200 yards of the race between the 3 and the 2 pole. My agitation grew when throughout the day I struggled to get a place in the stand due to everyone sat down on the steps meaning they took up 2 steps instead of 1. I mentioned to the steward why he didn’t ask people to stand as it meant fewer people can get up to see the race and I was told to get up there earlier. I replied that I like to go to the parade ring to see the horses before the race and didn’t travel 2 1/2 hours to just sit in the grandstand all afternoon surrounded by people getting drunk on overpriced beer. And I don’t drink when I’m at the races anyway.

    It isn’t only Newmarket that I have experienced this, unfortunately. At Royal Ascot I might as well not have bothered taking binoculars as these ludicrously high tents blocked off the straight course up to the final 4 furlongs and most of the round course to boot. At Aintree for the Grand National I was on ‘The Mound’ and had a constant struggle to see the last 2 National fences due to another high tent on top of the disabled viewing stand. I asked a steward that as it was a clearly dry day if it could be removed, if only for the National, and was accused of being ‘one of those people’. Other such constructions meant I could not see any of the hurdles up the home straight.

    At Kempton on Boxing Day I was dismayed to see that a burger stand in front of the grandstand was advertised by a remarkably oversized flag which no matter where you stood blocked at least half a furlong of the home straight. Sandown often have the same problem I find which these flags on top of food outlets. Uttoxeter is equally as bad with their monstrosity constructions in the middle of the course.

    Racecourses are charging more and more insane prices for a less and less enjoyable experience. I just about managed to justify the costs to myself up to now but I have to admit I’m seriously considering packing it in all together and just sitting at home watching the racing on TV. I’m told that ‘there’s a screen to watch the racing on at the course’ then what’s the point going? When I can save myself £30 and stay at home.

    Surely I can’t be the only person who is feeling this way?

    • Total Posts 7381

    Charles I’m so sorry to hear that your day at Newmarket was spoilt yesterday because of the disregard for racing fans and I have to say that I am 100% in agreement with you.

    I’ve been a Member of Newmarket racecourse for 5 years now and have access to the Premier Enclosure every time I go but I too think that racecourses are ruining the experience of those who really just want to see the horses in favour of a different type of racegoer.

    I went to Newmarket both on Thursday and Saturday, Thursday being Ladies day the whole place was jam packed with girls and women in their finery with most of them not having one iota of interest in the horses, they had people walking around the enclosure carrying cans of Pimms and bottles of Champagne, and in the Champagne bar in the Premier Encloser you had to hurry past as it was like a hen house in there. People were sitting around the paddock all day saving seats so you had to fight to get a space to view the horses and in the grandstand the same thing was happening every time I went up to take an empty space I was told the seat was taken.

    I’m not going to Ladies Day again next year which will make me sad as the quality of the horses running was excellent and I so wanted to see Frontiersman, Hawkbill and Atty Persse that I would have put up with anything but this was beyond bad. From 12.00 midday onward access to the course was choc a bloc and even in Members car park I ended up being diverted into the Taxi Pick Up point which meant that when I came out and wanted to leave I was blocked in by Taxi’s picking up drunken racegoers and had trouble getting out of the course.

    On Ladies Day and July Cup Day so much was made of what people where wearing and the Style Police are waiting to pounce on all overdressed males and females as they enter the course, I just want to get straight into the pre-parade ring and see what the 2yo’s running in the first race look like.

    Yesterday, they made us wait until 4.35 for the running of the July Cup the 6th race on the card, usually the July Cup is the 4th race on the card which means that a lot of people will leave the course after that race and head home early, this leaves those who really love to watch the racing at least 3 comfortable races to view the horses and gain a seat in the Grandstand…but NO the powers that be have decided that a much better idea would be to keep the racegoers on the track and up their sales of alcohol. This action totally spoiled the July Cup as afterwards there is always a lengthy presentation in the Parade Ring. This then meant that the 7th and last race on the card was totally ruined for anyone who owned a horse in that race as their horses had to walk across the grass to parade because the presentation was still ongoing, followed by the presentations for the fashion awards to the best dressed couple. By the time this had all finished the horses for the last race had gone to post, it was a disgrace.

    You talked of the Final Furlong Bar blocking your view, well in the Premier Enclosure our view is obscured by The Stage that they use for Newmarket Nights entertainment, and just as another little money spinner they have been charging racegoers from £30 upwards to sit on the stage and watch the action, with bar facilities and table. I’ve never seen anything so ridiculous as people sitting on Grandstand seats next to those who have paid a premium to be on The Stage.

    We used to get some lovely characters seen around Newmarket races, some who used to part up with some very good inside information on the horses running. Now those characters either just don’t come or have passed away, but going racing definitely isn’t what it used to be for fans of the sport, it seems the racecourses are encouraging all the wrong sorts onto the course with the lure of Apre’s Racng Discos and Cocktail Bars.

    I also will never go back to Royal Ascot preferring to watch it all on television now. My one and only Ladies Day was a complete disaster where I ended up spending the first 5 races in Ladbrokes betting office, the only place I could get a decent view of the racing. It was Yeat’s last Gold Cup and I never even got to see him.

    I am going to write to Amy Starkey who is MD of Newmarket Racecoursea at
    Westfield House,
    The Links,
    Newmarket CB8 0TG

    Phone:01638 675500

    with my concerns but not holding my breath and if you feel strongly Charles would suggest you do the same and direct her to this Forum.

    It’s sad that racing fans like you and I feel this way. Will they listen? I doubt it, but it’s worth a try.

    I didn’t find one winner at Newmarket yesterday Charles my best was Roly Poly on Friday the only day I didn’t go but I loved seeing the horses and the July Cup was a highlight yesterday seeing Limato, Harry Angel and Caravaggio.
    Hope you did better…Good post
    Jac :rose:

    Things turn out best for those who make the best of how things turn out...
    • Total Posts 1013

    You’re definitely not alone, Charles. Going to the races is getting worse with every passing year- ever more restricted viewing and increasing numbers of “people” (and I use the term loosely) whose only interests appear to be getting drunk and/or pulling simply ruin one’s enjoyment of the sport.

    I go racing maybe one third as much as I did a decade ago; sadly, I too feel like packing it in completely. Racecourses only care about takings these days, not the actual experience.

    • Total Posts 908

    I have every sympathy with you all. I wrote this on another thread 10 days ago:

    The BHA needs to invest in a long term strategy to get more people, especially the younger generation, genuinely interested in racing. It needs to sell the sport using all platforms having worked out correctly which things about racing make folk fans of it (we all know what they are) and promote those things consistently. It also needs to calculate accurately which things put people off going racing (an example might be confusion regarding dress code/where one can stand) and eradicate those things.

    All racecourses should follow the strategy decided upon at the higher level by doing the same things to attract paying spectators with minor wriggle room for each course to exploit any positive idiosyncrasy it has.

    The aim is to have more folk paying to go racing than there are now and to have virtually all of them attending because they are very interested in the sport. That is why people pay to watch football and rugby matches, Wimbledon, The Open, etc.

    Trying to attract paying customers by employing an uncoordinated and piecemeal approach, often incorporating things other than the actual racing to entice spectators is an incorrect plan. In general it is not proving successful in increasing the number of racing fans and, certainly judging by this thread, it is alienating existing racegoers who it is essential to retain.


    • Total Posts 484

    I agree. Also those ridiculously large screens that they put in your way so you can’t follow the action with your binoculars. Stratford is bad for it and so is Cheltenham, although with the new stand it is better. If I wanted to watch racing on TV I would not go racing.
    They just seem to want to get people in and get them drunk and who have no interest in racing.


    • Total Posts 196

    No idea what the current rules are but surely making some or all of the outside areas alcohol free would be a start. If you’re not interested in the racing then surely you wont mind being kept inside (perhaps behind the stands as well) to drink.


    • Total Posts 140

    Until six and a half years ago, I lived in France for six years. I went racing there to what were really not more than a farmer’s field, often rock hard with tents set up to house the Pari Mutuel and a few others for off race recreation and sometimes a small stand. Despite what might be described as the crudity, the day was always very enjoyable with both galop and trotting.

    Return to England and my nearest track is Market Rasen. Yes they have a music night once a year and next Saturday there’ll be ladies day. I won’t be going to either or, for that matter any more. I went pretty regularly for over a year but despite improving racing standards for some meetings, they substantially didn’t attract anywhere near the best horses. The Lincolnshire roads are horrendous and I guarantee there’ll be a serious traffic jam for best part of at least a mile and the horses will be much more worth looking at than many of the ladeeeees. :negative: For many, the drinking will start long before racing even in the town’s pubs from 11am onwards and a good number of the local punters will give it a miss.


    • Total Posts 306

    Sitting on the steps in a grandstand does seem to be something that is increasing. I was beginning to think that it was only me that it is bothered by it.

    It was particularly a problem at the Derby and Oaks this year. If you like to see the horses in the parade ring it is never easy trying to get up into the grandstand to get a decent position but it is made even more difficult when sitting and outstretched legs take up more than one position. There is also the problem of making sure that you don’t trip over all the discarded bottles and plastic glasses.

    I remember a time, I think is was probably back in the mid eighties, when drinking and rowdiness became a problem at the races. The racecourses used to employ stewards to stop anybody with a drink from coming out the front into the grandstand/betting area. Now you get portable drink sellers in these areas causing blockages.

    I cannot see things changing in the near future as increasingly the pound is king.

    • Total Posts 2655

    The only meetings I attend nowadays are minor midweek events in the Midlands during the main jumps season. Everything else seems to have been sacrificed to the needs of the pisshead. I wouldn’t go to any of the major race meetings in summer if you paid me.


    • Total Posts 7381

    Isn’t it a shame Mike that the likes of you and I and all the others on here who love racing have to make that sacrifice not to go to the main meetings because it is being spoilt by those just there for a ‘jolly’. There were several hen partys at Newmarket on Saturday and I just wonder why as most of the girls didn’t even go anywhere near a horse, I guess it was the temptation of the Disco after racing that kept them there. I even witnessed a bunch of young lads having a heated argument with a Steward as people were leaving the racecourse at the end of day because they expected to walk in free after the races to meet up with their mates at the Apre’s Disco.

    The Stewards at Newmarket do police the entrance to the Grandstand area of the course now and thankfully no alcohol is allowed in that area and also the Parade Ring area is alcohol free. Generally though the racing enthusiast and Members of the Racecourse are being made to feel like second class citizens as more and more yearly Premier Membership badges are being marketed as a cheap option to come and attend the after racing entertainment, so now we have Members who only want to come after racing to see the likes of Little Mix and Olly Murs (Sold Out).

    I would like to see racecourses have gated off areas away from the main racing action, that could include Cocktail Bars, Disco dance floors, Fashion shoots for posers etc etc and a Stage for the Acts, then charge extra on those gates for people wishing to attend the Entertainment after racing.

    For the Members they could then reduce the price of the yearly badges, in fact all Members of racecourse around the country should consider a Racing Membership only and a Racing + Entertainment Membership for those that wish to stay for after racing activities. These badges could be a different price, colour and design.

    It seems by the posts on here that racecourses all over the country are letting their core supporters down and they should take the time to look into this to see how they can best improve the racing experience of those who love the sport and are being driven away by those who come racing just to drink themselves into oblivion.

    Things turn out best for those who make the best of how things turn out...
    • Total Posts 5399

    The Mighty Dollar.

    Don’t expect change any time soon. When the track exec is planning a raceday there is one question I guarantee they do not ask – how are we to cater for racegoers who are here, above all, for the racing?

    I suspect that if that question did arise, the answer from the bean counting department would be: “Let’s discourage that type. They seldom drink when they are here or book tables in the restaurant. And they moan about our most valuable customers getting in the way of the racing. The fewer real racing folk who attend the more room for our valued customers.”

    There will be people working in senior positions on racecourses who love racing. But, aside from a very few exceptions, (Kelso comes to mind and perhaps Bangor) they will not allow that love of the sport to interfere with making profits. “Racing is a sport” Yes, it is, for its fans. For racecourses it’s a vehicle for profit and they care little about where that vehicle is steered in pursuit of profit.

    Commercial control of fixtures should never have been ceded by the BHA to racecourses. Tracks did plenty of damage in the media rights frenzy and they seem set on a similar path with the type of customer they target. They might have vast acres and fine grandstands and fat-cat shareholders, but their whole model depends on fixtures. The BHA gave them away.

    Never argue with a fool. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience, then onlookers might not be able to tell the difference. https://lazybet.com/


    • Total Posts 1080

    Unimpeded viewing should be mandatory. It isnt and there it is simply wrong but i really do not believe that courses are actively trying to deter real fans. Thats a bit far fetched for me

    But im finding the bigger flat meetings a bit much now. Day at Ascot and the eclipse is enough for me and im happy with my 30 or so jumps days a year

    i like a drink here and there but guzzling during the day when its hot and sticky is pretty horrible. Why do we in these isles seem so obsessed with it ?

    on that note i was at the barbican theatre for the tempest on saturday afternoon and bloke next to me was swilling away and stank of it. you can tell its a problem when its lager followed by red wine. was inclined to ask him to **** off and move

    it feels like its everywhere

    • Total Posts 24647

    If you want a good view of racing, go to Salisbury, ignore the members enclosure and take the steps to the top of the Tatts stand.

    value is everything
    • Total Posts 356

    I took friends and their kids to Perth’s family funday yesterday. The kids had a great time playing on the free activities but I was very disappointed at the many people who were happy to sit in their gazebos or wander the play area with not a thought to the actual racing.

    This was my first time in the centre of the course and due to the crowds I couldn’t have seen more than 5% of the day’s action. It will be back to the grandstand next month.

    Racecourses have over three hundred non racedays where they could have fun days, concerts, discos or whatever they like, leaving the Racing for those of us who enjoy it.

    Mind you this isn’t just a problem with racing. I’ve been to several Open Championship where many have been happy to stay in the tented village, boozing seems to be a prerequisite for going to a test match and how many people paid good money to sit on a hill and watch Wimbledon on a TV screen?


    • Total Posts 155

    Must mention Punchestown, which used to be a must, now we just don’t bother. Semi evening meeting great if you are from the city and want somewhere to party (that’s being polite) after work. For the rest of us, not worth the long drive and late night. Sad.

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