The second part of my adventures on racetracks over the past couple of weeks saw me at Warwick on Monday for their scaled-down trial of a few members of the public entering a racecourse for the first time. Sadly, it also proved to be the last, for some while at least, with the Government now battening down the hatches again and all sports trials are once again put on hold.
It looks very much now like a winter (and indeed, into the spring) season behind closed doors. How badly that is going to affect everybody in an already badly-hit industry remains to be seen, but the mothballing/closure of courses next year now seems an absolute formality to me.
Anyway, my experience of a very enjoyable day, plus not one but two Saturday videos (one Flat, one for Market Rasen) are all on a jam-packed main piece today!
The sun shone; the people came. We enjoyed a good days racing, we caught up with old friends, we laughed and joked. Some even won a few quid. And that was it. An all too brief glimpse into what might have been had the government decided to allow trials of spectators at racing but this was it. You can have Warwick but that's your lot.
Parking in the middle of the course was ample, and we were directed back to the main gate to collect our badges. And then the first surprise – no temperature checks, no medical questionnaire as had been the case as owners at others meetings. Just a check to make sure the telephone numbers were correct for track and trace purposes, and we were in.
Warwick looked well and so did the first person we bumped into, the redoubtable Martyn Of Leicester. “Money without work!”. The cry was still the same. “Come on, have a bet, these lads are still on furlough!”, he shouts, pointing at his workforce. Lockdown has given Martyn a few new catchphrases and he'll make sure he wheels them out.
Life's been hard, he tells me, but it is good to be back. In much the same way as Colin Armes was at Yarmouth, he's just glad to be back on the track, rather than looking to make a lot of money. I think these bookie lads get bored when there's no racing to go to. “Even had to talk to the missus.” Hard times indeed, Martyn.
We have a scout around to see what measures have been put in place. Plenty of hand sanitising stations, one-way systems more or less everywhere, social distancing encouraged (I got a telling off for standing too close to someone else near the paddock! – “people are watching this trial today, we can't be too careful” I was told) and you had to wear a mask whenever you were inside and not eating or drinking. All very easy to follow, all well laid out and signposted.
As it turned out, by the way, people were not watching the trial. Public Health England, who were expected to be at Warwick to watch the day unfold and record the events, didn't even bother to show up. Make of that what you will.
Could Warwick have accommodated more people as part of the trial? The original figure of 1000 would have been easily achievable, given the space available, and maybe a couple of hundred more than that wouldn't have put much pressure on proceedings. It might have meant a few more staff on but that would hopefully have paid for itself with the increased bar and food spend.
Speaking of which, food. Warwick are the first course I have come across doing hot food, and it was good to see the burger van and coffee stall both open, again the first time I have seen those type of facilities open. Another very good effort and another tick in the box.
If I have one minor complaint, it would be the access to the outer of the paddock. Only the bottom quarter was accessible and that in turn meant that people did get a bit close to one another (see my earlier ticking off) yet the back of the paddock – all of it – was used as an owners briefing area.
That could have easily been a third of the size and the remaining area used for the public to stand around, which would have made social distancing an awful lot easier. But that aside, this trial looked a great success, to my eyes anyway, and only makes the fact the public probably won't be going racing for another six months a bitter pill to swallow. Well done to the whole team at Warwick for putting on a safe yet entertaining day that actually felt something like a “normal” day at the races.
Anyway, on to today's racing and rather than bore you all to death with another 700 words, here's a couple of videos that cover off today's racing that I hope you find both useful and entertaining. I'll settle for one or the other, actually.
Today's selection – The Crazed Moon 3.20 Market Rasen
Good luck with all your bets today,