Hidden Gems

Good morning all,

Quiet day on the punting front, although for those of you wanting more of a steer on the Rasen card, I have done the comments for the Sporting Life website today. You can find them here –


For today , the latest of my hidden gems on Britain's racecourses, including a strange one suggested by my friend and work colleague Daren. I hope you won't think any worse of him for it….

The Game Spirit Bar at Fontwell

Weird to be promoting a bar, given I rarely drink at the races, but there is a good reason. Firstly, the bar itself only opens a couple of times a year, so there's never anyone in it, so secondly, it's a lovely quiet place to watch a race if you don't fancy standing outside. People merely use it as a cut-through from paddock to bookmakers but don't stay in the place.

You'll find that trainers use the room a lot to watch their charges and they'll often happily have a little chat to you about their chances, so it's good for that. In fact, let me relate a tale – I was in there last year, on my own, when a trainer and her owner came in to watch the race. The horse had been well backed all day but very near the off, drifted very badly.

The owner had clearly had a few quid on and was quite excited. But as they lined up, his expression rather changed. “What's he doing THERE?” he roared. The tapes went up and the horse jumped off to make the running. The exasperated owner turned to the trainer, who couldn't have been less interested if she tried, with a look of thunder on his face. His hands made a “what's going on?” gesture but the trainer merely twiddled with her hair.

Suffice to say, the horse faded away not long after halfway and the owner stormed out, followed closely behind by the trainer. Next time out – it drifted like a barge in the betting, only to see very late money for it, was held up…and won.

The Toilets At Ludlow

Now, this is Daren's suggestion and I don't want you to get the wrong idea about him. He doesn't go around toilets marking them up or down (for whatever reason) but he's on the money here.

The loos under the stand are proper old-style 1940's style Armitage Shanks marble-style jobs, tremendous structures the like of which you simply don't see in this modern age. I believe that Catterick also has them, I seem to remember using them on one of my two visits to the track.

Other things at Ludlow worth a visit – the roof, where you can get a terrific vantage point to watch a couple of races (as long as you're alright with heights) and if you're lucky enough, there's a quaint little room under the stands that serves tea, coffee and cake. I do have a feeling that's an O&T room now. You're packed in like sardines but all the trainers use it, and again, it's useful for picking up bits of gossip. Just blag your way in….;-)

Of my picks at Rasen today I think Imada (2.25) is the one that I'd have a bit shorter this morning. Renwick is the right favourite but even money makes little appeal, and Imada looks one that will improve this season. The step up in trip today should suit, and he won't mind a drop more rain either. Has a sporting chance of turning the short priced jolly over.

Good luck with all your bets today,


One Response to Hidden Gems

  1. Steve Newton says:

    It is the O&T room at Ludlow, the cakes are very good, the loos as you say are a masterpiece. The other advantage of the roof is that when your horse is still debating whether to use a 9 iron on the golf course there are spectacular views of the Shropshire countryside

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