With less than a week to go until the 2017 Betfred Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter Racecourse, the tension is mounting to see which horse and jockey will be crowned champions of the biggest race in the Midlands.
So what does the “average punter” need to know in order to have a memorable Day At The Races on Saturday 18 March?
What time is it under starter’s orders?
The gates open at 10.45am, with the first race scheduled for 1.50pm. There are 8 races in total, with The Midlands Grand National set to come under starter’s orders at 3.35pm.
What else should I be looking out for?
Mr Wilson’s Second Liners (http://mrwilsons.org.uk) will be entertaining the crowds with their very own style of New Orleans meets 90s club classics before racing, along with the highly acclaimed street performers Granny Turismo (http://www.grannyturismo.net). Local band The Formula will also play live before the racing commences in the Centre Course Beer Marquee.
Where will I find something to eat?
Head to the Paddock for Fish and Chips, the Chicken Shack and the brand new Wrights Pie Shop where you can purchase Staffordshire’s favourite pie with mash and gravy. There’s a Stone Baked Pizza & Grill in the Marston’s Betting Hall; and a selection of hot and cold snacks in Marston’s Centre Course Bar.
What about something to drink?
You’ll find a selection of bars throughout the site – from Hoops Champagne Bar, to the Centre Course Beer Marquee. And while the Shipyard Craft Ale Bar is a new addition for 2017, there are numerous bars and pop-up bars on the day, including the Kingstone Press Orchard Bar, Premier Bar, Marston’s Betting Hall Bar, and The Hobgoblin Truck.
Pick a winner
If you fancy a flutter the best thing to do is catch the tipster session in the Parade Ring with raceday presenters Colin Brown and Tim Peters. While Tim’s well-known to regular racegoers to Uttoxeter, Colin – a former professional jockey for 15 years with 400 winners, including 17 on the famous Desert Orchid to his name – is making a very welcome return appearance. Alternatively, you can study current ‘form’ in the Raceday Programme, or simply pick your own favourites by visiting in the Parade Ring immediately before the race.
Placing a bet
If you’re placing a bet, you can usually put as little as £2 on your favourite horses. And there are plenty of places to do that:
Betfred Shop – just like any high street betting shop, Betfred will take bets for racing happening at Uttoxeter or on another course or even on other sports.
Totepool – Tote betting means you’re not betting against a bookmaker. Each bet operates as a pool, so just like the lottery, how much you win depends on how many winning tickets there are.
Bookmakers – different bookies offer different odds and minimum bets. They can be found in front of the Grandstand and in the Betting Ring, amidst a colourful clamour, and adding to the raceday atmosphere. Join in the fun, but do remember to “shop around” for the best odds.
What to wear?
Although there’s no strict dress-code at Uttoxeter people usually like to dress for the occasion. Remember it is still March, so wrap up warm. The Betfred team will be on hand giving away free beanie hats. There are only 2,000 up for grabs, so make sure you arrive early enough to grab yours. The racecourse enclosures are tarmacked throughout, so there’s no need to worry about your footwear. Just take into account that some areas of parking are on the grass.
Where to watch
If you have a Premier or Grandstand & Paddock ticket, racing can be watched live from the Grandstands. If you’re in the Centre Course make your way over to viewing platforms to get close to the racing action. You can also see all the action from the big screen positioned over in the Centre Course as well as on Racing TV screens in our restaurants, bars and betting hall. To feel the thrill of the race, the best place to stand is right by the rails or make your way down to the final fence so you can feel the ground move as the horses thundering down the final furlong.
What it I’d rather stay at home and watch rugby on TV?
Why not enjoy a day at the races, and also not miss any of the rugby action? Uttoxeter will be screening the Six Nations’ rugby live at various points around the racecourse.
How much are tickets, and where do I get them from?
Ticket prices for this year’s Betfred Midlands Grand National range from £15 – £42. For further information and to book tickets online, visit http://www.uttoxeter-racecourse.co.uk/midlands-grand-national, or call 01889 562561. Tickets can also be purchased from the gate on the day.