One of the most eagerly anticipated horse race meetings of the year fell foul of the weather last Saturday. In a highly unusual move, the key races at that meeting – at Newbury in Berkshire – have been saved and will be run on Friday 17th February. If the move was unusual the bonus is unique: Newbury will be waiving all admission charges – normally £20 to £30 depending on which ticket you want. Newbury has space for a crowd of 25,000 so this day could effectively cost them over half a million pounds. The free entry concession has been funded, by the main sponsor for the day Betfair.
If you’ve never attended a race meeting before, here’s a chance not just to experience the sport, but to do so at the top level. Most midweek horseracing, compared with, say, football, would be classed as second or third division. Newbury on Friday will be like a Premier League feast with some of the best horses in the country due to run.
All the top jockeys will be there – AP McCoy, BBC Sports Personality of the Year, Ruby Walsh, a genius in the saddle. The best trainers will be in attendance – Paul Nicholls who trains the wonder horse Kauto Star – Nicky Henderson whose stables are not far from the course will be there with some of his stars, like the current holder of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Long Run and a future top-notcher in Sprinter Sacre.
You’ll see the equine equivalents of Lionel Messi and Wayne Rooney. These horses are superb just to look at – each weighing around half a ton – solid muscle and bone. You’ll watch them race each other at around 35 MPH, jumping fences, skipping over hurdles, battling towards the finish spurred on by the roaring crowds. It’s an an atmosphere which has inspired and entranced many. I’ve never heard anyone say they didn’t enjoy their first race meeting.
Newbury is close to the M4. It’s one of the most famous and historic of Britain’s 60 race courses – Arkle raced on the Newbury turf as did Mill Reef and, more recently the great Frankel.
Check Newbury’s website for full details. I guarantee a day out you will not forget. Free admission to a day like this has never happened in my memory which goes back a very long time. You’re unlikely to get another chance like this. Snap it up and enjoy it.
(I receive no payment or other benefit from Newbury or Betfair or anyone else)