One fine day at Cartmel races

BALMY WEATHER: Crowds enjoy the bank holiday sunshine at Cartmel races. Pictures Victoria Middleton

BALMY WEATHER: Crowds enjoy the bank holiday sunshine at Cartmel races. Pictures Victoria Middleton

First published in Horse racing The Westmorland Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

THOUSANDS of punters flocked to Cartmel Racecourse on a glorious Bank Holiday Monday after wet weather spoiled attendances for Saturday’s meeting.

Former Catchphrase presenter Roy Walker and Grand National winning jockey Bob Champion were among the punters in what was described by one bookmaker as the busiest Spring Bank Holiday meeting he had ever seen.

“Numbers were a little bit down on Saturday,” said Lord Cavendish, owner of the Holker Hall estate which runs Cartmel Racecourse.

“But today’s been a brilliant day and it looks like there’s a very happy crowd out there.

“There’s such a loyal following and Cartmel attracts people from everywhere in the jump racing world.”

Lord Vestey, chairman of Cheltenham Racecourse, was among those in the jump racing fraternity to make the trip north to Cartmel with his wife and two sons.

“We absolutely love it here,” he said.

“It’s the greatest fun, all the people here are really friendly, and it’s great to see how good racecourses are run.”

Families of all ages turned out with their barbeques and rugby balls on what was a great day for punters, but a bad day for bookmakers, after five favourites out of seven won.

“This is probably as busy as I’ve ever seen it,” said Jimmy Latham, an on-course bookmaker from Flookburgh.

“People were queueing to get on the racecourse about two and a half hours before the first race.”

And it was worth the wait as thousands of people introduced themselves to 69-year-old ex-gameshow host Roy Walker, who is taking his stand-up act to Dubrovnik, Croatia, next week.

“I’ve been here quite a few times and it’s always terrific,” he said.

“You couldn’t ask for a nicer place in the whole of Britain and it’s such a family day out.

“I’m becoming a big racing fan. I just backed the last winner so I went back to the bookie, saying ‘Say what you see’ and all that.

"He gave me a hundred quid and I was about to leave when he gave me another £30.

"I’m just in front now so I think I’ll have 50 pence each way in the next race.”

Racegoers were also treated to an appearance by Bob Champion, who beat testicular cancer to win the Grand National in 1981 aboard Aldaniti.

Mr Champion is trying to raise £250,000 for the Injured Jockeys Fund, a charity which gives financial and medical aid to riders who are forced to give up racing through injury, and his own Bob Champion Cancer Trust, which work to improve methods of detection and treatment of male cancers, through the 60:60 Challenge.

He aims to visit all 60 racetracks in Britain on 60 consecutive race days.

“I was at Fontwell yesterday and I’m going to Yarmouth tomorrow so I’m travelling a few miles at the moment.

“The people here have been very good and given a lot of money to two great causes.”

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