Entries by IanS

It never rains but…

If you are on a floodplain you can expect to be flooded. Huntingdon racecourse is on a floodplain, and last weekend it was flooded, depriving the course of its Family Fun day fixture and a crowd likely to be upwards of 4,000 people. I had driven past the track on Tuesday, at which time it […]

Time for a Middleham Derby

The decision of trainer Mark Johnston and owner Sheikh Hamdan to stump up the £85k to supplement Permian for tomorrow's Derby opens the door to a rare event in racing: a Derby winner trained at Middleham, in the heart of Wensleydale. Indeed, so unusual would it be that I can assure you that none of […]

Bath’s back with a bang

At 11:00 tomorrow the gates open on a new season of racing at Bath, the first of 23 meetings running through until 18 October. The track sits at the top of Lansdown Hill, three miles north of Bath itself and, at 236 metres above sea level, is Britain's highest course to stage flat racing. That's […]

Lost racecourses 10: Buckfastleigh

The ideal holiday for a National Hunt enthusiast in the late 1930s had to be a fortnight on the English Riviera, writes Ian Sutherland. It was long before the birth of summer jump racing, and August marked the start of the new season. South Devon had no fewer than five racecourses within 20 miles of […]

Jim Crowley: The Champ for All Seasons

Jim Crowley was crowned champion jockey at Ascot on Saturday, with never a more appropriate racecourse for the celebration, the champ being born and raised only a few hundred yards from the winning post there, writes Ian Sutherland. At the start of this year's turf season, Crowley had his eyes firmly fixed on the all weather […]

A National Surfeit

The Grand and Scottish Nationals have rightly taken centre stage on the last two Saturdays, writes Ian Sutherland. They are as good an indicator as any that the jumps season is all but over. Yet there is still one more National to run before the curtain falls, Perth's Highland National, taking place this afternoon. Matt's […]

Racing People 4: Mark Johnson (Part 2)

In this second part of our look at the work of a racecourse commentator, writes Ian Sutherland, Mark Johnson explains his approach to calling the race itself, and looks back on some of the races he's particularly enjoyed covering. [Part 1 can be found here] IS: I wondered how much you use binoculars when you're commentating. […]

Racing People 4: Mark Johnson

In the latest of our occasional series about racing people, we take a look at the work of Mark Johnson, racecourse commentator, writes Ian Sutherland. Today Mark explains how he became involved in racing, how he goes about preparing to call the horses at a race meeting, and the tools of his trade. Tomorrow, Mark […]

Newmarket Racecourses: We Are 350

British racing and the town of Newmarket in particular owe a huge debt to the two disasters that befell London in successive years over 300 years ago. In 1665 King Charles fled the Plague, and although his court went to Salisbury, and parliament met in Oxford, Charles also spent some time in Newmarket, a town […]

Going for a song

  A rare piece of racing memorabilia went under the hammer yesterday. Fortunately no damage was done, as the hammer in question belonged to Isabel Balmer, of Hansons Auctioneers, near Derby. Up for sale was silver racecourse admission token 42, dated 1830, and measuring no more than an inch in diameter. This had belonged to […]

Bagpipes and the Italian jockey

Bagpipe music is something of an acquired taste, one which despite my Scottish ancestry, has never appealed to me. It is, though, one of Frankie Dettori's pleasures. That might at first glance appear a really odd thought, but variants of bagpipes are to be found in most countries across Europe. At his request the strains […]


Lost racecourses 9: Moreton-in-Marsh

I wonder whether the Romans ever staged chariot racing during their occupation of Britain? If they did, one likely place would have been Moreton-in-Marsh, a significant mid point staging post on the Fosse Way linking Exeter and Lincoln. There was a Roman fort a mile or so outside the town, so it would have been […]

David Dennis – racehorse trainer

I was lucky enough to meet Worcestershire trainer David Dennis recently after he had a winner on the opening day of Cheltenham’s racing season. David very kindly agreed to answer a few questions about his time in racing, ending by highlighting the horse in his stable he’s most looking forward to this season. That horse, […]

Alter egos 20: The Stig

The Stig has been something of a legend on Top Gear since his first appearance in 2002. Over the years three different drivers have regularly donned the full face helmet and racing suit to blast powerful cars round the Top Gear test track at Dunsfold aerodrome in Surrey, and another half dozen or so have […]