An inside look into how Great Yarmouth Racecourse gets ready for the off
- Credit: TMS Media
As Great Yarmouth Racecourse gets ready for the off in the new season, its staff have given a glimpse into what goes on behind-the-scenes.
As Great Yarmouth Racecourse gets ready for the off and a new season, its staff have given a glimpse into what goes on behind-the-scenes.
Months of preparation work has been carried out to make sure the venue is ready.
The track's grass has been nurtured, paintwork freshened and detailed safety plans implemented, with the season due to start in late April.
Head groundsman Richard Bradley: 'We are on well-drained sandy land but are at the mercy of the elements – and not just rain. At our seaside location winds can also dry out the track which means we have to irrigate.
'At the end of the season we add fertiliser, de-compact it, and cut the grass from four to two inches before leaving it alone as long as we can over winter.
'Pre-season we slit it with a bladed roller to nine inches depth, fertilise - including with seaweed and iron, and keep it cut to three-and-half to four inches.'
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It is not just the turf itself that requires intricate work however. All 127 stables must be emptied and pressure-washed, picnic benches and suites need painting, as well as a rigorous gardening process to make sure the lawns and flower beds are ship shape.
All this work was carried out by a core team of 17 full-time members of staff, including just five ground workers.
However, when the season gets under way, on race days this team swells to more than 100, tp include gate, bar and catering staff.
Course clerk Richard Aldous, whose job it is to fix dates and organise prize money - among other tasks - said his work starts a year in advance.
He said: 'Trainers look for races that suit their horses and we are traditionally a nursery track for two-year-olds with 75pc of them coming from the yards at Newmarket,
'We are in the leisure industry and the course must be in tip-top condition. People don't realise the months of work that go into it.'
The course typically welcomes 60,000 racegoers every season, which sees it hosting a total of 24 meets between April and October.
On race days, staff will arrive at 6am, with stable staff having to be up even earlier to get the horses ready.
The opening race of the season is on Tuesday, April 25, with the season running through until Tuesday, October 24.
Great Yarmouth Racecourse in numbers
• Each season the racecourse welcomes 60,000 racegoers, with 40,000 people attending other events at the venue.
• A grand total of £1,06m of prize money is awarded over 168 races, competed in by 1,344 runners, with 173 trainers and 620 owners
• A season is made up of 24 race days in total.
• 65,000 pints of beer, 30,000 soft drinks and 4,500 bottles of wine and champagne are served over the course of the season, with 4,000 meals dished up.
• The track is one mile and five furlongs. Eight-and-a-half tonnes of fertilizer is used as well as one-and-a-half tonnes of grass seed and 1,000 bales of stable bedding.
• The racecourse is one of 16 courses run by Arena Racing Company, which is also responsible for Brighton, Bath and Royal Windsor.
• The course employs 17 full-time members of staff, which includes five ground workers. More than 100 people work on race days.