With a bit of time on my hands, I decided to offer readers five suggestions of must-visit tracks and occasions in racing.
I am very privileged in my role to visit tracks across the UK and Ireland. Every single course has its own unique quirks and individual features that regular racegoers would be aware of.
Today I pick out five of my own personal favourites that are well worth a visit once normality returns.
The jewel in the crown of northern racing for me, the Knivesmire has played host to top-class racing for many years. You are assured a warm welcome from those on the track and the crowds are big but predominantly made up of knowledgeable, passionate racing fans from the local area.
This track has offered northern racing fans the chance to see the very biggest names in the sport in their back yard. Frankel to Enable have run here in recent years.
The seasonal highlight is arguably the four-day Ebor meeting. Filled with top-class racing and a colourful crowd, the chaos of Ebor Saturday is a sight rarely replicated.
For a meeting of good quality but a slightly more relaxed vibe, I think the three-day Dante meeting offers fans good value and is a great chance to spend some time at a cracking track. The city is a great night out after with many brilliant independent bars and restaurants to enjoy.
As we celebrate today, we look forward to welcoming you to the final day of the @Welcome2Yorks Ebor Festival tomorrow.
ℹ️ Badges & tickets on the gates for all enclosures
👔 County Stand – no jackets required
😎 Don't forget your suncream! pic.twitter.com/KiSw9vx1Ys
— York Racecourse (@yorkracecourse) August 23, 2019
The most westerly track in Ireland is a long way from home for many race fans. Despite that, it is a course on many bucket lists, owing to its beautiful backdrop.
The May, June, and August meetings offer a mix of Flat and National Hunt racing. For all, the course is best known for its stunning scenery the track management are forward-thinking and always looking to be creative with the program they have.
You get plenty of nice flat horses that will enjoy the left-handed track and the odd big name jumps horse who wants better ground.
The course gained huge press attention when securing Frankie Dettori to ride last July. Whilst he went away without a winner, the hunger shown by the track to get such a big name to visit says plenty about their attitude and desire to punch well above their weight in comparison to others.
— Brendan Powell (@bpowell13) May 12, 2019
Racing by the seaside just feels right and Brighton offers a great view of the South coast. Perched high on top of the south downs, the quality of the action wouldn’t be of the highest standard yet there is a charm about the track and its regulars, who are real characters.
You will often find horses have a real marmite view of Brighton. Its extreme camber presents a challenge that some seem to relish. I always enjoy backing in the low-grade handicaps and it can pay to follow certain trainers at the Sussex venue. Tony Carroll has a strong record with his handicap runners at the track, with an LSP of +£64 to a £1 stake.
— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) August 10, 2018
Laytown, different to any other track, runs on the east coast of Ireland and offers horse racing on the beach. The date of the meeting is dictated by the tides of the Irish Sea. The entire meeting has a totally different vibe to anything else in racing. It feels like a Carnival crossed with a race meeting whilst at the beach!
Tropical weather is unlikely but that doesn’t deter a significant number of long-distance travellers keen to experience Laytown and tick it off their bucket list.
One group of visitors who keep coming back are the Melbourne Ten. Between horses leased from Irish trainers for the day and those with Jamie Osbourne, they have been known to really enjoy supporting the meeting in recent years.
This really is a special day of racing and one I can’t recommend highly enough.
— CNN Sport (@cnnsport) September 21, 2018
A track local to me that just oozes class. Set in a stunningly rural part of Sussex, the drive in often has me thinking I have taken a wrong turn.
The Glorious week is an obvious must-attend meeting at the track. Stacked full of class performers, the track is traditionally good to favourite backers. The Stewards Cup on the Saturday is one of the most anticipated Flat handicaps of the season.
— Goodwood Racecourse (@Goodwood_Races) September 12, 2017