Thursday, 13 October 2016

Award Winning Walking in the Park

"It's too bad," says Gary with a grin upon his face, "that there isn't an award for the untidiest desk or the tallest pile of Racing Calendars."
He is referring to the fact that his team has just been named as the winners, in the jumps track category, of the 2016 racecourse Groundstaff Awards. It's also true that there is a stark contrast between the neat enclosures outside my office window and the organised chaos of the Stewards Room, which doubles as managerial HQ when we're not racing.
As I've always maintained, a dirty bath is the sign of a clean body and a tidy desk is the sign of an empty mind.
Nonetheless, Gary Sharp's achievement, at the head of a team consisting of one other full-time groundsman (the excellent Martyn Fogg), plus several part time staff and contractors, is significant. His efforts have yielded record numbers of runners, greater consistency in the going and several innovations that have improved both the racegoer experience and equine safety. 

Racehorse trainers have responded by sending better horses to Cartmel; it's no accident that two track records fell during the course of this year.
An interesting fact: we welcomed more horses to Cartmel during the first six and a half weeks of the most recent season, than in any calendar year of the racecourse’s history with the exception of 2015. Repairing the track after so many hoof prints is no walk in the park. Well… except of course it does involve walking… in the park. But there’s lots of other technical things that Gary does too, besides the walking – or so he tells me.
I think he gets many of his ideas from Pitchcare magazine, which happens to be one of the brand-sponsors of the award - alongside Fornells, the running rail manufacturer, and Watt Fences, who supply materials for making hurdles, steeplechase fences, PVC fencing and almost anything else you could want on a racecourse except barbecues and cricket bats (which, apart from Cartmel, aren’t required at most racecourses anyway).
The team at Brighton picked up the groundstaff award for Flat tracks, while Ascot scooped the award for dual-purpose tracks (flat and jump combined). The overall winner, for the top team of the year, will be announced at the Racecourse Association’s Showcase Awards next month – an event which is a bit like the Oscars but much more important.
If there was an award for the top racecourse tipster (there isn’t), we might have been in with a chance this year – the weekly selections have so far yielded a profit of £49.29 to a £1 level stake. Realism suggests that the good fortune can’t continue – but we’re going to give it a go anyway, with Rayvin Black in the 4.10pm at Kempton on Sunday.

No comments:

Post a Comment