Lucky racegoers were treated to a special behind-the-scenes tour of Newton Abbot Racecourse on Thursday 22nd August as part of the racecourse's on-going commitment to introduce more people to the world of horseracing.
Held on the second meeting of the racecourse's back-to-back evening fixtures, the tour offered an insight into the sport not normally seen by racegoers. With a detailed talk about the weighing room including the different weight specifications for jockeys, the group also enjoyed an up-close look at the traditional birch fences and the new one-fit padded hurdles which are being trialled at the course this year.
The afternoon also featured a talk from one of the racecourse's bookmakers on reading the racecard and, as an added bonus, the group were invited to choose the best turned out horse and present the prize to the winning connections.
Joe Bell, who joined the tour with his father Michael Bell and family friend Alan Calicott, was glad to be a part of the tour: "We normally go racing about four or five times a year, predominately at courses in the West Country. We especially love Newton Abbot; it's a lovely course and as it's a summer course, you can enjoy the sunshine as well. The tour was a great way to learn more about the sport and we all thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon."
Also on the tour was Alec Monroe and Sarah Ellis, who found out about the tour through the racecourse's email database. Alec spoke about his day: "This was our third visit to Newton Abbot and we usually bring our daughter along. It's a great day out for the family, especially for the children being able to see the horses up-close in the Parade Ring.
"The behind-the-scenes experience is a great idea, especially for younger people who might not know much about the sport. The tour was excellent. Hearing about the new hurdles that are currently being trialled at the racecourse was great and it's fantastic that Newton Abbot are at the forefront when it comes to horse and jockey safety."
The racecourse is now gearing up for their second set of back-to-back fixtures of the season. The Summer Festival weekend will return on Saturday 31 August and Sunday 1 September. Popular with families and racing enthusiasts alike, the weekend will feature the listed Class 1 Lord Mildmay Memorial Handicap Chase on Saturday, followed by the Class 2 totequadpot Four Places In Four Races Handicap Hurdle on Sunday afternoon.
The Family Enclosure will be open for the last time this season for both Saturday and Sunday's fixtures. As with all fixtures this season, children aged 16 and under and students with a valid student ID or NUS card can enjoy free entry to the course.
The double fixture weekend kicks off at 2:10pm on Saturday 31st August, with racing returning on Sunday 1st September at 2:10pm. Gates will open two hours before the start of the first race for both fixtures.
Tickets for can be bought at Newton Abbot Racecourse's ticket shop at www.newtonabbotracing.com and will be available to purchase at the gate on the day. Please note online bookings will close at 5pm the day before the fixture.
More information can be found online or by calling 01626 353 235.