Going to the races on Boxing Day is a seasonal tradition for a good many people in the Brigg area.
Visiting Market Rasen Racecourse is as much a part of Christmas as turkey, mulled wine and crackers. It’s described as Lincolnshire’s big day out at Christmas time. And, with up to 10,000 people descending on the market town from all over the region, it’s one of the most popular sporting events and family days out in Lincolnshire during the whole year.
Visitors have every incentive to buy their Boxing Day tickets in advance and get along early to the racecourse. Prices on the day start at just £12 for adults – with savings available for advance purchase. All accompanied under 18s are admitted free of charge.
The gates of the racecourse will open at 10am for a first race time of 12.25pm. The feature event during the afternoon is the Clugston Lincolnshire National.
Among other attractions are:
- Personal appearances by Fireman Sam
- Father Christmas making a special overtime visit
- Free kids lunches and a lucky dip to win valuable prizes.
The visitor judged to be wearing the best Christmas jumper will win a table for four in the Brocklesbury Suite at a fixture in the New Year.
Pip Kirkby, General Manager, Market Rasen Racecourse, tells us: “We’re all geared up for a great family Christmas day out in Lincolnshire with our Boxing Day racing fixture.
“It is always among our most popular racing days of the year, with crowds since the turn of the millennium averaging 10,000.
“With all accompanied children admitted free and admission for adults starting at just £12, Boxing Day at Market Rasen Racecourse is also a very affordable Christmas day out for families.”
So, what should visitors know before they set out and as they arrive at the racecourse?
Set off early: Gates will be open from 10am. The sooner people arrive, the less time they’ll spend in traffic. Visitors should take heed of the well-established Boxing Day traffic management plan:
From the Brigg direction, A46: Follow signs on to the B1225 (Caistor High Street), and the yellow signage via North Willingham and Sixhills.
What to wear: Dress for the weather. The County Enclosure does require smarter dress – no ripped denim for example – but otherwise there are no restrictions. Warm is best! People move around the racecourse quite a bit, so comfortable shoes are advisable.
How much does it cost? The great news is that all accompanied under 18s get into the racecourse free of charge. A report this month from the Deloitte business group found that racing provided the most affordable family day out of any sport.
Tickets for Boxing Day can be booked online at www.marketrasenraces.co.uk or by calling 0844 579 3009 – with advance purchases qualifying for up to 25% discount. Details of special admission packages – to make the day extra special – are online too.
On-the-day adult prices on Boxing Day: Family Enclosure £12; Tattersalls £18; County Enclosure £25. Students and senior citizens save up to £4 off admission, excluding Premier Enclosure.
Parking: General parking – with the exception of the picnic car park - is free. Preferential parking areas are provided near the entrances for disabled visitors who are holders of the Blue Badge parking label.
Food and drink: Visitors are welcome to bring their own picnic into the car parks or into the Family Enclosure, but food and drink may not be brought into any other areas of the racecourse. There are numerous places to eat, including Mama J’s Italian restaurant.
The race programme: The official programme is invaluable. The silks worn by the jockeys are displayed in colour. The programme shows the recent record of each horse running, the weight the horse will carry in the race, and the name of the jockey and trainer.
Betting: People put their money on with the bookmakers who stand in front of the grandstands or with the Tote. They ‘take a price’ with a bookmaker at the time when they put your money on, whereas with the Tote the bet goes into a pool, with the winnings decided after the race.
Choosing a horse to back: Visitors can watch the horses in both the pre-parade ring, where the horses are saddled, and the parade ring itself. They can read the form – or just choose their favourite jockey or a horse whose name they like or whose rider is wearing their favourite colour. After all, it’s just a bit of fun.
The races: Now watch the races from the grandstands and cheer the winners as they come back into the winners’ enclosure. The highlight of the racing during the afternoon is the Clugston Lincolnshire National, a steeplechase run over three and a half miles.
Online: More information can be found at www.marketrasenraces.co.uk or by calling the racecourse on 01673 843434.
A big team of racecourse staff, from caterers, ground staff through to the general office and management are involved in organising Boxing Day racing.
For Clerk of the Course Jane Hedley it’s her first Boxing Day meeting. She’s responsible for providing the very best possible racing conditions for the horses.
Her focus on Boxing Day started as soon as the racecourse’s last meeting ended on 5 December. The turf is repaired and running rails moved. And the long-term weather forecasts begin to the monitored.
Jane’s role becomes intense in the days leading up to Boxing Day.
Christmas Day is a day off, but she’ll still be monitoring conditions remotely from where she’s staying in the Scottish Borders and will arrive back in Lincolnshire at 9pm.
With luck there won’t be the challenges of some previous years with frost and snow! The weather forecast for over Christmas is currently favourable.
Jane is in constant touch by telephone and text message with racehorse trainers intending to run horses because they want to know the exact ‘going’. She uses a special, hi-tech GoingStick to provide readings which create a ‘going map’ of the racecourse.
Jane will be at the racecourse from very early on the day of the races to assess any change in the conditions.
Satisfaction will come when all the racehorse owners and trainers are happy. “When the races are run, I’m happiest when all the horses safely return to their saddling boxes. That’s the main thing,” says Jane.
Market Rasen Racecourse will stage 21 jump racing meetings in 2014 and is a leading conference and events centre in the East Midlands. More information is available at www.marketrasenraces.co.uk
Market Rasen Racecourse is part of The Jockey Club, which has been at the heart of British racing for more than 260 years. Today the largest commercial group in the sport, The Jockey Club runs the largest racecourse group in the UK by turnover (2012: £142.1m), courses (15) including those at Aintree, Cheltenham, Epsom Downs and Newmarket, attendances (2012: 1.8m), total prize money (2012: £35.3m), contribution to prize money (2012: £16.5m) and quality racing (Group and Graded races); more than 3,000 acres of world-class training grounds in Newmarket and Lambourn; The National Stud breeding enterprise and education provider; and the charity for racing's people in need, Racing Welfare. Governed by Royal Charter, every penny The Jockey Club makes it puts back into British racing. More information is available at www.thejockeyclub.co.uk