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Team V&E trotted along to Epsom Racecourse for a night of betting and hospitality, not to mention a spot of crooning from Tony Hadley. However, it turned out the Spandau Ballet singer was not to be the star of the show…
Words: Heather Steele
Fresh from Royal Ascot, we were well rehearsed when it came to picking our horses and placing bets. Unluckily for us, after an initial burst of good luck, we definitely went away with less money than we came with.
We were expecting to lose a few quid. We weren’t expecting a full behind-the-scenes tour from the team at Epsom. First, in the centre of the paddock, we watched the horses being paraded and saddled up, while the complexities of handicaps were explained to us. We then moved swiftly onto the weighing room and watched a couple of jockeys – as well as Millie, our editorial assistant – get weighed. Turns out she’d be perfect!
We then jumped into the back of a pickup truck and were driven the full mile and a half around the track to the starting point. Here, we watched as the stall gates were tested and then stood back to see the horses start the race from the side of the track. Exhilarating.
Back in the Royal Box, looking slightly more windswept, we sipped on glasses of rosé and Corona. It was a hot and cold buffet of lamb tagine, poached salmon, mixed salads, ratatouille and roast beef for mains. Puddings included cheesecake and trifle, although the cheese, biscuits and homemade chutney went down extremely well at our end of the table.
Three hours of racing and dinner was followed by a show from Spandau Ballet frontman Tony Hadley. Besides hits ‘Gold’, ‘True’, he worked through a few of covers: the likes of Michael Bublé, Foo Fighters (yes, we were surprised too!) and Duran Duran. We had a great view from our balcony, not only of the band, but of the sun setting over the Downs.
The best bit: The behind-the-scenes experience. It was a one-off, but we reckon they should offer it as part of a corporate events package.
Room for improvement: Tony was entertaining, even if it was in a nostalgic way, but we would have preferred to dance along to Mike & The Mechanics the following week.
Suppliers: The Jockey Club, Epsom Racecourse.
Epsom Downs Racecourse, Epsom Downs, Surrey, KT18 5LQ.