Barry Pearson spends a day at the races and says it's a real winner.
THIS week I am writing of something about which I know almost nothing.
I can almost hear The Grumpy Old Men of Flower Café fame mumbling to themselves "no change there then"!
Whilst not knowing much about it, let me tell you how much I enjoyed an evening at Uttoxeter Racecourse.
A great friend asked me to join him at the last meeting before the summer break. It was a perfect English summer's evening, warm sunshine and a blue sky.
I had not been to the Racecourse for a year or two and was impressed by the investment that has apparently been made.
The range of catering available amazed me, a wide selection of bars and a similar array of food, from fish and chips to attended silver service, all of which looked really appetising.
I suppose that, overall, I was most impressed by the atmosphere. This is, for me, created by anticipation, colour, loudspeaker commentary and people ranging from scruff to high fashion!
By course standards, this was a relatively quiet day, for the most part committed race goers were there to enjoy seven races, a mix of two steeple chases (the bigger fences) four hurdles and the last, a flat race (with neither fences or ditches).
I was fascinated by the dedication of owners, trainers and the stable lads committed to ensuring not only fitness but the best possible presentation of their horses and therefore to our enjoyment.
A visit to the races would not be complete without a visit to the bookmakers. They still stand beside their boards giving odds of the moment. It is great to watch these change and the competition amongst them. Sadly, to me, things are now electronic and digital. I used to appreciate the speed of the bookmakers' mental arithmetic.
Whilst these guys are obviously consummate professionals, if unsure and you want advice before you bet, don't hesitate to ask. I have no doubt that there is as much pleasure in taking your or my money as that of a regular punter.
The Parade Ring is a must, the place where you can see the horses at close quarters before the jockeys mount and head for the course.
Close to the busiest part of the course is a giant screen so that you can easily follow all that is happening from start to finish.
I referred to committed race goers. The previous Friday was Ladies' Day, when, I am told, the emphasis is upon the high (or low) fashion of those attending rather than the horses.
Whatever may be your reason, I strongly recommend that you add a day at the races to your list of things to do, I reckon you will enjoy your visit as much as I did.
As we were driving, we stopped briefly at The Tavern at Denstone, on the way back to Ashbourne. Having dropped the car off, we slaked our thirst at The George then, as we were hungry, we went into The Dragon's Nest.
I must declare an interest, I love Chinese food. Jenny greeted us with a special appetizer of crab and avocado with all sorts of goodies which were quite delicious.
We followed with sweet and sour pork and chicken chow mein, both tasty and satisfying as usual, and, washed down with TsingTao, providing the perfect end to a great evening.