Friday, 1 April 2016

Pop-up Flat Racing

The Lincoln Handicap marks the tradition start of the flat racing season – so today seems like a good date to announce our plans for a new flat racing track at Cartmel Racecourse. 

The idea first surfaced after Chester Racecourse organised a schooling trial over hurdles in 2012; we thought: if Chester could stage racing over jumps, perhaps Cartmel could stage racing on the flat… And following the successful introduction of flat racing at Wetherby last year, we gave the idea serious consideration. What a great way to supplement the traditional jump racing programme.

Of course there were a few obvious issues to work through – like the probable draw bias for all races staged over half a furlong or further. But, with a little bit of lateral thinking, I’d like to think that we’ve come up with some suitable solutions. We've plans to create a straight course in the centre of the track – a bit like the sprint course at Sandown. 

That would involve displacing a bit of the crowd, as everyone at Cartmel enjoys the spectacle from the centre of the course – so perhaps we could experiment with a ‘pop-up’ track, a bit like the one on the beach at Laytown. When the time comes for the sprint races, we’d move the crowd back, delineate the course with white tape and off we go. Naturally we’d have to ensure that there was a clear thoroughfare between the funfair rides.

We haven’t actually measured the new course yet – it looks as though the horses might have to start in the woods, where they would also have to negotiate the River Eea, or more likely the Course Enclosure car park. But we’ve plenty of space, so we could tape some room off there too.

I expect that some trainers might be reluctant to trial the new course with their relatively inexperienced two-year-olds, so we’ve got a work-around. Instead of young Thoroughbred horses, we thought we might go back to our roots – and stage races with donkeys ridden by monks, just like they used to do in the 14th Century. There is a trend for celebrity amateur jockeys at the moment – so I’m working on a proposal to see if Betfair might be willing to sponsor the Archbishop of Canterbury or another prominent member of the clergy to take to the saddle.

We won’t be implementing any of these proposals without a suitable level of consultation – so please don’t hesitate to send us your thoughts. Be sure to put today’s date (1st April) at the top of any correspondence. 

My tip for the Lincoln (and this is not an April Fool) is You’re Fired - which I suppose I might be, if anyone takes this blog seriously.  

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