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If you live in or very close to London, have nothing planned for the afternoon of Wednesday, January 10, 2018, then why not venture out to Lingfield Park for an afternoon's horseracing?
Gates open at 11:40. The first race is off at 13:10 with the last starting at 15:55. Go on, be decadent, be louche, and treat yourself. A premier ticket only costs £21 on the day and this gives you access to all parts of the racecourse the public are allowed in. You can standby the pre-parade ring as the horses are walked around before they go to the parade ring just before their own race. Soak up the atmosphere: the hushed conspiratorial tones of punters, trainers, and stable staff who always say a lot but in fact say very little. Admire the horses, the stars, as they bristle up getting ready for the job they are about to do. And, if you are very lucky, you might even back a winner or two.
The first race is a handicap over seven furlongs with thirteen runners chasing a first prize of £3,105. My win choice in this opener is Highly Approved. Currently priced at 9/2, but what is more significant is that this horse, along with a few others from the same stable and trainer, have been shipped over from Ireland especially for this meeting.
In the 13:45, I am going for Polly's Gold, priced at 2/1. She has the most consistent form of late and is highly experienced at today's trip of six furlongs—better the short-priced winner rather than the long-priced loser.
The 14:15 is a two mile handicap, which for flat racing in the UK, is quite a distance. There are eight declared runners with an age range of four- to eight-years-old. Once again, there is a runner shipped over from Ireland chasing a first prize of £3,752 and that's Grey Waters, priced at 6/4. It is the combination of the distance traveled to be in this race, the fact that it is the youngest and is carrying the second lightest weight over this huge distance, that strikes an appeal for me.
The 14:50 is the premier race of the afternoon for five fillies chasing a purse of over £10,000. Although Make Music is carrying top weight of 9st 7lbs (135 lbs for North American readers)—by this I am referring to the total weight of the jockey including boots and silks, the saddle, and any extra weight the handicapper believes she should carry—her recent experience of coming fourth in a competitive race over this course and distance just a month ago should stand her in good stead in this valuable race.
In the 15:25, I am stepping away from the short priced runners and going for a middle priced each way selection from the ten runners declared. Silver Penny is highly experienced, amassing places no worse than fourth in the last six outings. Strong, reliable and consistent, and priced at 10/1.
Finally, before heading home there is the 15:55 with nine declared runners. Once again, there is an Irish raider, Aibell, who has not come all this way for schooling in public but last time out could only achieve a fourth. He might be too inexperienced for this race but worth looking out for in the future. My instinct is directing me towards Middle Creek from John Gosden's yard and priced at 10/1. It would be nice to finish the afternoon with an each way success.
This is a great way to spend an afternoon in the fresh air with all the thrills of horseracing.