Every year I think of going to the races, maybe Ladies’ Day? Then, I look at all the fashion and feel intimidated. Added to the pressure of hitting the fashion mark there’s the question, what to do with the kids? This year we received an invitation to attend a family fun day at the races courtesy Great British Racing. I looked at the line-up of racecourses and settled on Epsom Downs Racecourse. They promised a day of adventure themed family fun. We at The Tiger Tales HQ relish an adventure! It was on the gorgeous sunny Bank Holiday Monday in August that my ambush hit Epsom Downs Racecourse for their family fun day.
Racing in Epsom dates back to the mid-17th century. However, here’s a fun fact: Epsom Salts originated from the area. A water-hole which produced one gallon of water containing 480 grains of calcareous nitre (salts) was found in 1618. By the 1640s records show the connection between Epsom Downs and horseracing. Another major moment in history for the racecourse was when Suffragette Emily Davison threw herself in front Anmer (the horse) owned by King George V at Epsom Derby Day, on 4 June 1913. The incident occurred on the bend by Tattenham Corner 1. She died four days later in hospital from internal injuries and a fractured skull.
The iconic racecourse is known as the ‘greatest flat race in the world’. At the start of the course there is a ‘punishing uphill run in the early stages followed by the tumble-down to the famous Tattenham Corner and then a steeply cambered home straight.2
Epsom Trainers’ Open Day & Family Fun Day
We had a splendid time at Epsom Downs Racecourse’s Family Fun Day. The event was part of Great British Racing’s ‘Under 18s Race Free’ initiative. There are 60 racecourses across the UK where under 18s are admitted free of charge to almost every raceday. Over the summer along with race days there have been family days with additional activities. Our day began with the Trainers’ Open Day which was held in aid of Racing Welfare (the registered charity supporting the workforce of British horseracing). 7 yards were open on the day. They offered the opportunity to see horses exercising on the gallops from 8:30am. We arrived for an 11 am tour. The horses were snug in their stables chillaxing.
Feeding and Petting the horses
We visited Tattenham Corner Stables (Trainers Michael Attwater and Mark Pattison) and Clear Height Stables (Trainer Simon Dow). The kids were thrilled to have the chance to pet the horses. We learnt so much about their diet and exercise. Race horses begin competitive racing at two years old! We observed some of them had a star on their. It’s like a birth-mark ( a white marking between their eyes) which is quite individual. Their star gives a sense of their personality. The horses looked so beautiful well looked after. We were amazed at how loving and child-like they were. They loved the attention, treats and pats from their visitors.
We welcomed the lift back the car park which was next to the racecourse, from the stables. It was such a hot day. I think it went up to 32 degrees. On entering the main entrance to the ticketing area of the racecourse was wonderfully decorated in a safari theme. By then it was lunch time. We settled down in indoors eating area to cod and chips and live entertainment. There were screens inside, which allowed us to see the Fun Day races outside as well. The spacehopper race was hilarious! Let’ just say there were tumbles…
The activities were free. Lil V did not miss her face painting opportunity, on this occasion I joined in. Then she tried the trampoline, while the guys went off to bet and watch the races. Later on, we regrouped and the kids took a part in the big draw. There were other activities like rock climbing, a petting zoo and bouncy castles. The kids did the latter but decided not to climb due to the queues and heat.
Conclusion & Upcoming Events
All in all it was a smashing day out. Epsom Downs Racecourse is beautiful. The family fun day is a good initiative to keep the tradition alive by getting young ones involved. Additionally, it’s a rare treat to go behind the scenes to see the horse and find more about them. The day is more laid back, smart causal dress code and under 18s go free, which makes it affordable and accessible. You could pack picnic but we opted to dine there. They have a variety of food stands and restaurants.
Epsom Racecourse will bring the season to a close on 29th September. It will be another family friendly fanfare. The Petting Zoo will return. There will also be Birds of Prey and Kids Takeover which is a new initiative. Young racing fans will have the chance commentating the races, observing in the Parade Ring, and join in with all the raceday activities and behind the scenes action. There’s something for everyone. If you go, be sure to tell me how you got on.
As the festive season comes along they will host party nights. Visit the website for further details on the racecourse and its events.
Many thanks to Epsom Downs Race Course, Great British Racing and Racing Welfare for fantastic family day out.