I’d been to the Horse Racing once before and can’t say I enjoyed it. To be fair, I was 18… we’d been drinking since 8am and I could barely afford to put a bet on any of the races.
So this was to be a different experience as we celebrated a family member’s birthday by purchasing the ‘Racegoers Restaurant Package’ in the Grandstand of Newbury Racecourse on Saturday 29th December 2018.
We arrived about 11am, with the first race at 12:05 and the restaurant was packed already. Upon inspecting the drinks menu, as I guessed, the drinks were outrageously expensive. From memory, a pint of Carling (or Carlsberg, one or the other) was £5, Grolsch £5.10 and Guinness £5.20 to give you an idea. If you’re looking to be one of those racegoers you see in the papers passed out on the floor, you’re going to have to dig deep into your pocket.
I started off well, winning a mammoth £12 off a £5 bet on the favourite (the wonderfully named Song for Someone) on the first race. I soon burnt my £7 profit on the next race and it was all downhill from there as I experienced a loss overall.
The action was exciting to watch and out of the seven races, most were close. This included a photo finish which my 80 year old Grandad was suitably disgusted at, as his 16-1 punt was pipped into second place.
If you’re new to racing, the friendly team at the Totepool were more than happy to explain the betting process and terminology. My tip is don’t be silly, bet well within your means and unless you’re a serious gambler its just a bit of fun at the end of the day.
There was a tipster (a former jockey whose name escapes me) who would also pop up at various points through the afternoon offering tips, some which were better than others. He offered the chance before each race to visit the Parade Ring and this was rather unique as you were able to go inside the ring and get up close to the horses. Unfortunately getting closer to inspect the horses didn’t help me at all, as I still lost after choosing a horse I deemed to be worthy of a winner.
The 3 course meal on offer was pleasant enough, but the service seemed disorganised and slow as the army of students struggled. Drinks were expensive and the only benefit I experienced of this package was the chance to stay indoors to get away from the cold December air whilst watching the racing.
Hey if you’re looking for a good day out, the racing is still a laugh. Unless you’re specifically after a 3 course dinner to celebrate an occasion, perhaps save your money (£89 per person for this privilege) and stick to a general admission ticket. Scouring the website afterwards, £15 for a ticket and pint seemed a lot more up my street.
Tickets & Other Races –
Newbury Racecourse has numerous races all year round, with the Betfair Super Saturday in February being one of the highlights of the Jump season.
Tickets for all races start from £15 and can be purchased through the official Newbury Racecourse website here. Tickets were available to purchase on the day, but there was a huge queue so I’d recommend advance bookings.
Getting there –
Road – Having driven from Southampton on the day, Newbury itself and Newbury racecourse were easy enough to access, being just a few minutes off the A34. Newbury is also well served by the M3 and M4 motorways, with free parking available on site.
Train – Newbury Racecourse station is right next door and has direct links to London Paddington on major race days. On all other days, there are regular services to and from Reading station, which also has links to London and further afield.
Search and book your journey through the Trainline here.