Secret Racegoer: Plumpton
It’s been a while since the Secret Racegoer’s last visit to Plumpton, the small jumps course in East Sussex where the runners seem to have to go round the tight track half-a-dozen times to complete a two-mile race.
The first thing you notice is the new entrance building leading up from the railway station. No longer a small potting shed with two turnstiles, but a welcomng reception area with electric lighting and everything.
As it was a last-minute decision to attend, £17 was the asking price on the door for the single-enclosure, but it no longer included the racecard. This didn’t seem a prohibitive price but some seasoned Plumpton racegoers were not impressed – “extortionate” was heard more than once, especially as a further £2 was required for the racecard. I think these people lead sheltered lives, or have come from Worthing.
Interestingly, the racecard no longer comes from Weatherbys, the estimable organisation based in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, but Timeform based further north in Halifax in god’s own county. It is indistinguishable from the cards printed in the East Midlands and if the £2 price tag is economically viable, then let’s have Yorkshire value for money spreading further afield.
Two pounds would have happily been spent as a tip to leave my computer case in what used to be a cloakroom, but is now just an information point. The security situation was given as the reason, which doesn’t show much confidence in the bag search at the entrance.
Racecourses don’t provide cloakrooms anymore said the apologetic lady. Ascot, Epsom, Newbury, Sandown and York do I replied. “I’ll let them know” she said.
The Guinness price test was put to good use in the Sussex Grandstand, insomuch that it was considered good value and the test was repeated more than once to the point where the actual price cannot be reliably recalled.
What can be recalled is the dead fly on the surface where the first pint was placed. It was still there prior to the lucky-last, so its luck had long run out as had the cleaning staff’s inclination to wipe down the surface.
Luck also deserted a fellow racegoer who sent a pint of cider flying across the table. “I’ll get something to wipe it up” he said, not appreciating that my Racing Post had already taken on the job of assisting the reluctant cleaning staff by proving to be an able substitute for a J-Cloth.
Someone who knew that I do the odd scribbling for The Racing Hub asked who it was who’d gone to Kentucky to preview the Breeders’ Cup for the website. Nobody had gone to Kentucky, I said, pointing out that they’d only gone as far as their local KFC to try and get into the mood.
I would have liked to have reported on the merits of the bacon or sausage rolls in the Southdown Grandstand but there was a touch of the Longchamps about the catering as the rolls had run out and the alternative paninis were prepared to order. Tasty enough.
Observing the bookmakers before a five-runner race, a line of seven were offering identical odds except for one layer who went 15/2 on a horse where everyone else had gone sevens. When will the penny drop about the ailing betting ring?
It’s a nice track, Plumpton, and well attended on a sunny November afternoon with many people knowing each other and expressing pleasure at course specialist Ding Ding winning her fifth race at the track for Sheena West.
The connections picked up over £6,700, not much more than the course had run up in on its water bill to provide ground which was good, good to firm in places after continued lack of rain – no wonder the flies are dying.