The Secret Racegoer at Epsom
The usual security checks were in place at the entrances to Epsom for its first fixture of the season, the Investec Spring Meeting. Curiously, the Secret Racegoer was waved through as, wearing a black gilet with a green collar and badge which featured a red sword, mistaken for a red cross, it was thought he was one of the medics.
This was the first Epsom fixture in many a year that the Secret Racegoer attended without being an annual member. Badges for the Oaks and Derby have been purchased, but no longer will metal be carried. Does this matter to the Surrey track? It would seem not.
Elsewhere on The Racing Hub it’s been pointed out that it’s easier and cheaper to keep existing customers than it is to acquire new ones. So it’s disappointing that the Secret Racegoer can walk away and nobody from Epsom gets in touch to try to win back the business or ascertain why the membership has not been renewed.
The reason is that membership held with other tracks include reciprocal dates with Epsom, including the opening fixture of the season, so purchasing an annual badge has ceased to be cost-effective.
Suffering from shock
Had the Secret Racegoer been a member of the medic team, he could have treated a few fellow racegoers for shock when they discovered the price for a pint of Guinness, and other draught beers – a whopping £6.
But worse, a bottle of non-alcoholic larger (Heineken Zero) is £3.50.
Earlier this year the Secret Racegoer challenged the price of such a beverage at sister-track Sandown. In response, Jockey Club Caterers said they monitored what was charged at other sporting venues, and priced accordingly
The Secret Racegoer offered to help in the monitoring process and subsequently advised Jockey Club Caterers, a joint-venture with Compass, that Newbury charged £3 and Ascot £2.80.
Not everyone who goes racing wants a drink, but those who do should not be fleeced and resent paying over the odds. In much the same way that a bookmaker at Cheltenham objected to being charged £2 for a cup of hot water. Not sure why he wanted a cup of hot water, maybe it was to defrost the satchel.
It might have been the cost of having a drink that led to an announcement that the track’s cash machines were not working properly.
Payouts, it seemed, were intermittent. It was a reminder of David Ashforth’s definition of Ladbrokes: “a bank where you only make deposits”.
Scouting around for a drink that didn’t first need a call to the building society led to the real-ale bar where a pint was £5.40. No wonder after a couple of races one of the three beers on offer had run out.
That second race was the seven-runner Listed Investec Blue Riband Trial, which went to the Aiden O’Brien trained Cape Of Good Hope, who prevailed in a three-way photo finish with Ryan Moore on board. Remarkably, he was third in the betting at 4/1 with favourite Arthur Kitt doing nothing to help his cause by stumbling out of the stalls. The race did not produce the Derby winner.
Coolmore representation was a bit thin on the ground and a member of the racecourse told the presentation team that: “Ryan is supposed to be coming out. He did grunt a ‘yes’, but I’m not too confident.”
With that, Ryan Moore appeared from nowhere, accepted his prize, gave a pleasant smile and was gone again. How he magically appeared and disappeared can be explained by his exiting the podium by ducking down under the rail and jumping off the side. The less time he can spend in the public gaze, the better it seems.
Someone who is happier to be in the limelight is the Racing Blogger, largely due to his walking around the racecourse with a smartphone on the end of a selfie-stick taking images which later appear on social media. He was at Epsom and one is reminded of comment once made about Sir David Frost, possibly by Peter Cook: “he has risen without trace.”
It pays to follow Aiden O’Brien at Epsom, as it does Andrew Balding whose La Don De Vie, with Oisin Murphy on board, obliging at 10/3, doubled-up with Cape Of Good Hope.
It called for a celebratory drink, not at the track but in the excellent Rifleman in the town.
More Secret Racegoer reports
Sydney Arms, Chelsea http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-1E3