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A Day At The Races

Yesterday I made my annual visit to Plumpton racecourse.

I go with a sporting friend who is also involved in retail and yesterday it was his turn to entertain.

He also invited a sportsman with whom he grew up locally Ian “Gunner” Gould.

The latter had been in a Arsenal youth team (hence his nickname) with Liam Brady, Frank Stapleton, David O’Leary and Wilf Rostron – moved to cricket, keeping wicket for Middlesex and Sussex, and then become an elite umpire.

He is an entertaining, ebullient man and our table in the Paddocks restaurant was never short of chat.

Although Plumpton is not that far from Lewes it is hard to access by train from my home.

There is a frequent service from Brighton to Lewes but then a delay for a connecting train to Plumpton.

Plumpton station is straight out of the Will Hay film Oh Mr Porter.

Arriving before the course opened, there was no cafe at the station nor even a waiting room, so I used the sofa by the ticket office to wait.

We all hooked up in the Paddocks restaurant.

An ex-jockey came into the restaurant to give some tips, all of which were off the mark.

I had already spoken to someone I know with horses who recommended one of his friend, a successful entrepreneur who was launching a local vineyard and named his horse Abingworth after it. The horse ran in the 2-30pm race, but after looking likely, faded.

This is the problem with the jumps – the races are normally 2.5 miles or over and, with the fences as well, stamina is tested.

It was bitterly cold too.

With the travel difficulties and icy wind I found myself moving towards the watch-on-TV camp.

The meet seemed to attract an ageing crowd and if the Government hits betting hard I wonder how horse racing can be financed if it has to rely on the crowd alone.

My betting philosophy is that I expect to lose £50, but that is part of the overall cost and if the ‘craic’ is good -as it was here – then this is money well lost.

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About John Pargiter

John Pargiter’s biggest claim to fame is his first-ever work experience job, as ‘legs’ (or runner) for Henry Longhurst. For many years he worked in insurance at Lloyds. After retiring he has returned to his favourite sport of golf and is a keen recreational sailor and grandparent. More Posts