I have a dusty file at home, full of letters received from racecourse managers - responding to my requests for work experience from the age of sixteen onwards. Some of them are very short, most are polite and almost all of them contain the word ‘no’ somewhere within the text.
There are some
exceptions. A few took the time to offer advice and a couple even
invited me to visit their racecourses – anywhere from Folkestone in the south,
to Kelso in the north (which was a tad far at the time). It was Geoff Stickels, the father of Chris Stickels
(Ascot’s Clerk of the Course) who eventually gave me the opportunity to tread
in divots at Lingfield Park. That was before they built the all-weather track;
they don’t need divot-treaders for many Lingfield meetings nowadays.
A few years passed, the sand arrived at Lingfield and I received a degree in Agriculture (or something similar, I've forgotten) from a University near Colwick Park - at a time when they still staged jump racing there. Geoff introduced me to his Marketing Director, Roger Easterby, who later became
the Marketing Director of the Tote.
Roger gave me a job as Race-day Announcer in the
Weighing Room, putting out messages over the PA system: non-runners, jockeys’
colour changes and vehicles that had left their lights on in the car park. I
made all the announcements at Lingfield, Folkestone and Brighton and I wasn’t very good at it – so
I was rapidly ‘promoted’ to other roles like chief-leaflet-deliverer and
None of the
jobs were full time but, because I was keen, I picked up extra work at Ascot
Racecourse, Ladbrokes and a company which delivered flour all over the country
- not that this had much to with horseracing, but at least it gave me plenty of
time to read The Sporting Life. It was a good apprenticeship and there weren’t
many jobs on a racecourse that I didn’t experience to some degree or another –
so, if there are any young aspiring racecourse managers out there, I would
recommend getting some casual work at your local (or even not so local) track.
As it happens,
we’re looking for people to help us this Summer at Cartmel Racecourse. Each
season we directly employ around 120 staff at the races, not including the
security stewards, caterers and tote operators. The office team expands too, as we employ an extra
person to handle enquiries and assist in the coordination of events from May
through to the end of August.
interested in working at the racecourse, regardless of whether they’re seeking
a new career or a little extra beer money, should write us a letter - I promise
you’ll get a reply.
To work in the
office, it’d help if applicants are numerate, literate and have a sense of
humour. No other specific qualifications are necessary - unlike entrants for the
Cheltenham Foxhunter Steeplechase, who should either have won two
point-to-point races or been placed first or second in at least two
hunter-chases. Pena Dorada achieved that before winning two handicap chases at
Cartmel last year and returns to hunter-chasing at Musselburgh this Sunday, in
preparation for a shot at the Cheltenham Festival next month. Pena Dorada is our
selection for the weekend.