Bouquets and Brickbats

I have to admit I am not usually one for making New Year resolutions.  After all they are usually self indulgent and unachievable.

So to my utter surprise I made a New Year resolution for 2008 and, as you kindly asked,  yes it was self-indulgent and, thanks to the vagaries of the British climate, ultimately unachievable.

My resolution – to revisit every UK racecourse in 2008, plus visit our newest course at Great Leighs.

The really frustrating aspect is I only failed by one, the miscreant being York. If you remember our balmy summer you will recall the August meeting was lost to waterlogging. Any other year it would not have been an insurmountable problem as York also normally race in September. This year, ironically, the season finished early so drainage work could be undertaken to address the waterlogging issue.

So I managed to visit every other course – which of them deserve bouquets and which brickbats?


The first of our bouquets here. After the initial teething problems with the new stand they have listened to the public and the improvements have worked. I love the place now – they have introduced themed days without impinging on the racing itself and are attracting new racegoers.      


Well what can be said? The viewing is terrible and the racing is generally moderate (and that is being generous) but, you know what, it doesn’t matter one jot. The atmosphere is great and the setting idyllic.

Everyone should visit Cartmel races at least once in their life.

Cartmel just gets a bouquet for being Cartmel


Well a big bouquet for their handling of the Festival Gales and the rescheduling of the meeting into three days – who will forget super Thursday with ten races?

Still a great course although it can get a tad uncomfortable on the really busy days.


For me overrated and overpriced, however they still manage to attract the crowds – it is just a same the crowds are predominantly stag and hen parties.

The idiosyncratic track detracts from fair racing, especially over sprint distances.

So it is the first brickbat awarded.


It may be new and “improved” course but it is grossly overpriced so a brickbat to Donny.


In the middle of a massive redevelopment they still managed to stage the Derby meeting so a bouquet to Epsom and here’s hoping the new stand delivers all it promises.

So a bouquet to the Surrey course.  


I am biased here, this is where I caught the racing bug – a delightful course and nothing in racing beats standing in the centre of the course during a steeplechase.

My one worry is the proposed new development does not detract from its charm, so a bouquet as a sweetener in the hope the changes are sympathetic.


Fontwell’s neighbour.  Glorious racing, glorious setting and views to die for. A massive bunch of flowers here.  

Great Leighs

Bouquets and brickbats here.

Bouquets for finally opening and for the enthusiasm and dedication of the team.  Also a bouquet for producing the fairest AW racing surface in the country.   

The brickbat is for the admission prices, which are high considering the viewing is so poor.


Another brickbat awarded, this time for emasculating the jumping and introducing portable fences. Also for putting interests of the beer swilling masses ahead of the racing fans.

Both a dreadful shame as Haydock is a lovely course otherwise.


From an aesthetic point of view it will not set your pulse racing. Functional rather than flash but with reasonable viewing and with some occasional very high class fields.

A bouquet for moving the Peterborough Chase back to a midweek slot and attracting a very competitive, high class, field.


Still offering free admission – why can they do it and not others?

So, a nice bunch of red roses for Towcester.


It has been a very difficult eighteen months for Wetherby with a course re-alignment forced upon them.

The damage to the racing surface, especially on the chase course, was worse than anticipated.

However they have persevered and seem to have generally overcome the problems.

So a bouquet to Wetherby’s team.   


It could be a bunch of lily’s for Worcester.

Beset by flooding problems it is had to see how the course can struggle to be viable in the current economic conditions.




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