The Secret Racegoer misses racing at Steepledowns
With the country in lock-down, the Secret Racegoer misses the racing at Steepledowns
Of all the racecourses which the Secret Racegoer has seen, Steepledowns has been one of the most reliable – it has never, until now, cancelled a meeting. Indeed, it has never needed to call an inspection, precautionary or otherwise.
In fact, the administration of the course is so good that the going is never an issue, there are always a sufficient number of ambulances in attendance and the weather has never inflicted fog, frost or sea frets resulting in abandonment.
There’s no messing about at the start – runners are off on time thanks to excellent procedures and a standing-start has never been necessary.
Steepledowns is virtually on the Secret Racegoer’s doorstep and quite possibly within virtual walking distance for almost everyone else. This makes it one of the easiest tracks to visit. Car parking could be a problem depending on where you are coming from in relation to the track’s location but public transport shouldn’t present any problems unless you use Great Western Railways.
Not well blessed
Steepledowns doesn’t have a big screen, but small TV screens showing the action are plentiful which is just as well – the course itself isn’t well blessed with facilities to watch live action. Indeed, try as the Secret Racegoer might, neither the parade ring nor the winner’s enclosure could be located which meant that checking out horses pre-race was virtually impossible.
However, once the cameras picked them up at the off, there was little or no evidence of participants sweating-up, carrying condition or seemingly disinclined to race.
They all looked immaculate and are a credit to their handlers who’ve turned to the latest computer software to ensure that every horse could win the ‘best turned out’.
Refreshments on offer when watching racing at Steepledowns are somewhat basic and are only available from vending machines – so no Guinness. But it’s not impossible to find a wider choice of food and drink if you try nearby cafes, bars, pubs and restaurants.
The timing of races are such that it’s possible to partake of a three-course meal and still get back to watch the next race on Steepledowns’ card.
Bookies stand their ground
Steepledowns adopted the same policy as Chester once did, and has done away with the tote. Betting is strictly fixed-odds but, unlike the Roodee, there’s no criticism of poor value. Curiously there are never any market movers and bookmakers stand by their prices regardless of their liabilities.
They also appear not to push a horse out if there’s a suggestion it might not take part, but the Secret Racegoer can’t remember a non-runner at Steepledowns, so the situation has never arisen.
Such is the reputation of Steepledowns that every race attracts enough runners for each-way betting.
If the Secret Racegoer has a criticism of Steepledowns it would be that every race is run over the same distance, which can be a bit monotonous. But that’s a small quibble given that you always get a run for your money as not once could he recollect a faller, let alone a horse unseating its rider or being pulled up at Steepledowns.
However, if there are any incidents in running, the chances are they’ll go unnoticed because once the horses cross the line there’s never enough time for a replay – it’s on with a race at an away meeting and all the risks which that entails.
There are many positives to be taken from Steepledowns; however, the track’s executive should keep a lookout as one day a rival operation might try to get in on the act. Who knows, even the Aintree management might see the merits of applying the Steepledowns approach to the Grand National.
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