PICNICKERS were out in force as grey skies failed to put off punters at one of half-term’s biggest attractions.
Cartmel Racecourse’s North-West Evening Mail Picnic Day attracted thousands to South Cumbria to have a flutter on the horses or simply lay out their blankets and fire up the barbeques.
Children and parents took advantage of the school holidays to head to the South Lakeland track for the second day of the May meeting.
They were treated to seven races on the compact course, with renowned jockeys such as Tom Scudamore, top lady rider Lucy Alexander and Monday’s treble winner Henry Brooke in action.
Among those helping the crowd on the day was course steward Richard Repton, from Allithwaite. An old head at Cartmel, he is in his 50th year working at the course – having started when he was a primary school pupil picking up litter after the meetings and having since gone on to work in the car parks and with the trainers and stable staff.
Mr Repton – who is one of three friends to have worked for 50-plus years at Cartmel alongside Jack Brooker, from the village, and Jim Robinson, the former Grange-over-Sands Golf Club greenkeeper – feels the track offers something special to both novice and experienced racegoers.
He said: “It’s a unique track – it’s a one-off.People like coming back here because they meet friends and family. They always tend to come here twice a year at least.
“You can see a lot of people who come here year after year. They will park in the same place and they will get very friendly with people around them.
“People come up here from Blackpool, Manchester and the like. You get a lot of first-time racegoers here and they will always come back. It’s a friendly atmosphere.”
There was certainly a happy environment among those strung out on along the rails in the paddock and enclosure, even as umbrellas went up before the second race as the threatened showers materialised.
There were still many youngsters and parents smiling as they enjoyed themselves on the fairground – another attraction which makes Cartmel stand out – and the rain could not dampen spirits.
It was a family affair on the course, too, at the start of the afternoon as Stags Leap won the choosecumbria.co.uk Handicap Hurdle.
Jockey Henry Brooke – who had three winners on Monday – is the son of trainer Julia Brooke, who in turn is the daughter of co-owner John Platts and niece of the other co-owner Billy Platts, John’s brother.
Evening Mail commercial director Frank Stretton presented the prizes alongside Luke Dicicco, the project manager of choosecumbria.co.uk, and was pleased with the success of the afternoon.
He said: “The North-West Evening Mail is a key part of the community and this is a massive event within the local community.
“It’s really important that we partner up with organisations like Cartmel Racecourse. This is our fifth year sponsoring one of their race days and the whole event just gets better and better every year. Hopefully our readers have had a great day and picked a few winners.”
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