Hear from Milly who joined us on a work placement from the Royal Agriculture University from July – September last year as she shares all about her experience of working here at Lingfield Park...
The opportunity arose when I was searching for a summer placement to be included in my course at The Royal Agricultural University. Growing up around racing and continuing to work for various trainers from school through to university meant there was no doubt in my mind that a placement in racing was what I wanted to do.
Lingfield Park is undoubtedly one of the busiest courses in the UK, providing racing on the Turf, All Weather and more seasonally National Hunt spread across 80 fixtures annually. As well as racing, Lingfield are one of the only racecourses to host ‘Barrier Trials’ which allow trainers to bring young or problematic horses to experience a track and stalls in preparation for their racing careers. It was incredibly interesting to watch alongside Gary Witheford who jointly hosts the trials and assists with the loading.
On arrival to a racecourse, as staff or spectator, it is hard to know what goes on behind the scenes. Shadowing George Hill (Clerk of the Course) and Stephanie Wethered (Trainee Clerk) provided a wealth of knowledge; from walking the tracks and discussing vital maintenance techniques, prizemoney allocation, navigating the owners pass system, updating the going etc. Their usual race day routines showed their dedication for their jobs and they also encouraged me to shadow many of the BHA roles at the course such as the welfare officers, stewards, starters and scales. Alongside this, I spent some time with Dave, Hannah and Simon, a mixture of ground staff/gardeners whose expert eyes ensure that Lingfield is immaculate for all to see. Whether the job is pruning, weeding, strimming, leaf blowing or moving running rail; I now have full appreciation for the effort and skill that goes in to making a race-day. Based mostly at Lingfield, both Philip Hide (Fontwell Clerk) and Sophie Candy (Windsor Clerk) kindly allowed me to spend a race day alongside them to see an alternative place and routine. It was also very beneficial that George walked both these tracks with me, explaining how to spot the differences in ground and maintenance.
Due to the current circumstances, a day’s racing is very different to ‘normal’; a few examples of the new protocols are being wrist banded onto site, one-way systems, social distancing measures (including expanding jockey changing rooms) and reducing owners to four pre-booked badges per horse. It is obvious that although a difficult change, racecourse staff of all natures are working tirelessly to ensure the safe resumption of racing.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Lingfield and I cannot thank George, Steph and their team enough for being so engaging and encouraging.