26 June 2019
The last few months, Lingfield Park have been lucky enough to have Elena working within the Racing Office as part of her Royal Agricultural University course. This is what Elena has said about her time here....
On my course at the Royal Agricultural University, we have the opportunity to work for 20 weeks in the second year of our course, and I knew I wanted to spend that time working in racing. Luckily enough, I was given the chance to do my work placement at Lingfield Park Racecourse, one of the busiest tracks in Europe, with over 80 fixtures across the year, including flat racing on the turf and all-weather, as well as jumps racing over the winter months. I finished my final second year exams at the end of March, and less than a week later, on the 1st of April, I was able to start my placement here at Lingfield.
Over the past two months at Lingfield, I’ve been able to see and learn about a variety of roles across the racecourse. From spending time in the main office with marketing and sales to visiting other ARC tracks for racedays, it has been a great way to learn more about racing and all the work that goes on behind the scenes. For the first couple of weeks, I mainly spent time in the racing office, with George (Clerk of the course) and Steph (Racing executive) explaining the different aspects of their roles, and outside with the estates team. With a golf course, hotel, and racecourse, Lingfield is a big place, and after spending more than a few days weeding with the gardeners, Hannah and Simon, I definitely have a new appreciation for the work that is put in to prepare for racing – in the office, on the track, and everywhere else. I was also able to spend time with the grounds staff, moving rail to prepare for the start of the turf season and the pre-season inspection with Peter Hobbs. There is always something to be done on track, from mowing to moving rail, and the grounds staff have a responsibility to make sure the track is ready and safe to race on.
As I started my placement at the beginning of April, I’ve been lucky enough to be at Lingfield for two of their biggest racedays – the All-Weather Championships on Good Friday and the Derby and Oaks Trials Day. The Trials Day was definitely an exciting one, as Anthony Van Dyck, the Derby Trials winner, and Anapurna, the Oaks Trials winner, both went on to Epsom to win their respective Classics. This is the first time in history that both the Lingfield Derby Trials winner and the Lingfield Oaks Trials winner have won the Epsom Derby and the Epsom Oaks in the same year.
Lingfield also hosts the Witheford Equine Barrier Trials, where young, inexperienced horses, or older, problematic horses can practice for racing. Lingfield was the first racecourse in the UK to host Barrier Trials, with Wolverhampton now doing the same. These trials allow the participating horses to experience being loaded into the stalls without the pressure often experienced on a raceday, and run an unofficial race, where ability can be tested and behaviour can be monitored. The horses go through the stalls twice, turning back after one furlong the first time and racing to the finishing post the second time.
I’ve been able to visit two other ARC tracks: Brighton and Fontwell. Both are very different to Lingfield; Brighton’s track is shaped like a horse-shoe, with busy road crossings across the track, while Fontwell is a jumps track, shaped in a figure of eight. While walking the tracks, George has explained the different maintenance that all three tracks require, and the difference in going for flat and jumps racing. George has also explained the different maintenance techniques for the All-Weather track at Lingfield and the difference in going and going changes. Both the turf and the all-weather are maintained all year round to ensure safe conditions for jockeys and horses.
I’ve learnt a lot so far, and I’m really looking forward to the rest of my placement where I’ll be able to see even more of the different aspects before, during and after racing. Everyone at Lingfield has been really welcoming, and George and Steph have made sure I’m always learning. While the early morning starts have been a tough change, they are definitely worthwhile for this great opportunity.