An immense new grandstand is under construction at the home of British jump racing and, although it isn’t due to be completed until next season, racegoers have had access to some areas during this year’s Festival. The most notable improvement is the number of toilets. Despite a crowd of 63,000 on Tuesday, the queues for the loos were noticeably short. On the face of it, this is an excellent development – although I can’t help recalling that the inspiration to back Cavalero for the Foxhunter Steeplechase fifteen years ago (£20 at 20/1) only came to me whilst standing in line for the Gents. It remains one of my biggest winners and I am now facing up to the fact that it may never happen again.
Loos are an important feature on any racecourse and, although many of the facilities at Cartmel are temporary, we too are planning to make some significant improvements ahead of our new season in May. Not only are we hoping to have more loos available, there will be more space for ladies to check their hair and make-up, more space for changing babies’ nappies and more betting information displayed adjacent to the Gents – to provide inspiration for those spur-of-the-moment betting decisions.
During the last few weeks we have also been installing ducts beneath the enclosures which will carry fibre-optic cable to every corner of the site. In addition to linking all of the entrances to our new ticketing system, it is anticipated that the fibre-optic will also help us to provide wireless access to the internet for a large proportion of mobile users on the racecourse. Apparently hundreds of thousands of pounds have been invested in improving the wireless and mobile signals at Cheltenham, although this was less in evidence this week – with most telephone calls taking at least six attempts to connect.
Behind the new grandstand at Cheltenham is a very smart new giant screen. Not to be out-done, the team at Scottish Racing have also developed a new giant screen and will be showing it off at Kelso a week on Saturday. I’ll be off to have a look, in the hope of securing its services at Cartmel this Summer. Coincidentally, our new fibre-optic network should be ideal for supplying the high-definition picture signal.
I don’t suppose Holywell will be running at Cartmel this season, nor Many Clouds or Coneygree - but while Cheltenham is renowned for the sheer quality of the racing, I’m confident that visitors to our little track will continue to enjoy the unique atmosphere at Cartmel, while noticing a similar range of customer focused improvements.