In previous years bookmakers have been able to pitch up on the hill, the common land opposite the main stands, for payment of a small fee, typically between £100 and £150. With upwards of 100,000 people in this area, it’s a small price for access to a huge pool of punters. This year they have come under the regulation of the Administration of Gambling on Tracks, with the pitches allocated by auction rather than the old fashioned process of seniority. Bookmakers feared soaring costs.
One, Ian Govey, whose family have been laying bets on the hill for over 50 years, said yesterday, “For the three days it has cost me £580 – that is the two days of the Derby meeting and the August Bank holiday. I don’t know what others have paid. I would guess some have paid more and some have paid less.”
Phil Morgan, who operates under the Cliff Percival name, welcomed the new approach to allocating the pitches. “I think it’s a good idea. It was a bit harem scarem before with names being drawn out of a hat on Friday morning, so I welcome anything that makes it more legal.”
Meanwhile, such is the demand for rooms in the Epsom area that managing director at the course Rupert Trevelyan has to double up with Welsh mezzo-soprano Katherine Jenkins. It’s to be hoped that nobody mixes up the jobs they have to do and sends Trevelyan down to sing the national anthem.
He’ll be up by 4.00am as he told Channel 4’s Nick Luck at the recent Breakfast With The Stars. Their exchange provided a welcome moment of humour whilst everyone was chewing their croissants.
Trevelyan: We start very early on Derby day so I will be out at 4am anyway. They will kick me out. I’m not sure where all my clothes or underwear will end up but I hope it’s somewhere safe.
Luck: I’m guessing nowhere near Katherine Jenkins. Her security will already have done a sweep.