On the hill behind our house, the ewes have been separated from their lambs and the noise is deafening. On one side of the road, the lambs are bleating BAA BAAAA! In a separate field, on the other side of the road, the ewes are echoing in a slightly deeper tone: BAERRE BAERRE!
It’s the change which is unsettling them. Soon the ewes will realise that they’re much better off – that their udders are no longer sore and that they’re not being lifted off the ground by a pair of 35kg lambs every five minutes, as the lambs seek sustenance. It was a cold March and it’s been a dry Summer with precious little grass growth, so the poor old ewes have given just about everything they’ve got to give.
The lambs will soon appreciate the benefits of the change too. The ewe’s milk is less nutritious at this time of year and part of the purpose of weaning the younger stock is to feed them up. They’ll receive concentrated food that will fuel their growth as they gambol in the sunshine.
This week’s announcement, that tickets will be going on sale for the Kelso Races 2018/19 season on Monday, has been met with a similar crescendo of excited noise. We’ll be releasing 3,000 early bird tickets at the bargain price of just £10 (£20 for Ladies Day), while the priciest ticket on the day, for all race-days excluding Ladies Day, will remain at £20 – exactly the same price that it has been for the last twelve years. Tickets can be purchased from noon on Monday 6th August.
Crucially, despite our dogged commitment to low ticket prices, there is another development which has caused some excitement. All of the tickets will be valid for one single-enclosure as, for the first time at Kelso Racecourse, we’ll be permanently removing the barriers between the Club Enclosure and the Paddock Enclosure. The check-points between the old enclosures created bottlenecks, so it is anticipated that the removal of the fences will create extra space for everyone to enjoy the races – as well as make it easier to get around.
Over the next few months we’ll be utilising the additional space to provide more seating, something that we’ve been frequently asked for, and a refreshed offer in terms of trade-stands, catering and entertainment. Maybe we’ll even be able to make some progress in providing better toilets, as the extra space allows room for mobile units.
This season’s changes represent the first phase of a number of improvements that we’ll be implementing over the next few years. Future developments will include something for everyone: better views of the racing, dining areas for racehorse owners, new facilities for annual members, more toilets, more seating and new catering areas.
A small number of customers, that have previously frequented Kelso’s Club Enclosure, have voiced passionate concerns that the forthcoming changes will concentrate the crowd in specific places. Their views are heartfelt because they love their experience at Kelso above all other racecourses – a matter which is worth taking seriously.
But while I’d be very concerned if their fears were realised, I believe that the developments will have the exact opposite effect. The additional space and improved flow will enable everyone to get a better view, especially around the Parade Ring and Winners Enclosure – where the enlarged space and new terraced steps will create better vantage points.
I’m pretty confident that, like the lambs on the hill behind my house, visitors to Kelso will discover the exciting possibilities that will result from a little bit of change. Unlike the lambs, though, we have no ulterior motive that involves eating our customers later – that would be horrible and wouldn’t be a motive befitting of Britain’s friendliest racecourse.
More dramatic changes are afoot this week – we think we might actually predict a winner: Foxtrot Lady in Goodwood’s Stewards Cup.