You may remember a couple of weeks ago I ran a competition for one of my readers to head for a day of horse racing, sunshine and a bit of a flutter at the beautiful and infamous Newbury Racecourse for the social event of the summer, Al Shaqab Lockinge Day. I was also invited along to the event in the hopes of eradicating my abysmyl memory of my first time at the races surrounded by old men in anoraks, grey skies and rain. I needn’t have worried about the grey skies as blue skies and sunshine followed Terri, Lilly and I all the way to Newbury during our morning drive to meet the lovely Victoria and arrive for a drinks reception in an exclusive suite.
We stayed overnight at The Lodge which is primarily an onsite hostel for jockeys and stable hands to stay at during race weekends/days, but due to our 3 hour journey Newbury Racecourse kindly offered to put our group up at so that we could enjoy the day without feeling like we had to rush off once it had finished. Before the days events we had a quick 20 minutes to freshen up and change into our race day outfits before we headed to the suite. As with most major sporting events, hospitality packages are available at Newbury Races and we were lucky enough to be treated to an afternoon in the prestigious Fred Winter suite which included a champagne reception and free flowing Veuve Clicquot Rose throughout the day, a private bar, a three course lunch (which included mini servings of an array of sweet and savoury dishes), tea and coffee and individual cakes and sandwiches.
Food and drink aside (I wanted to get the important things out of the way the beginning, obviously), our suite had a private terrace to give us an amazing view of the racecourse and the races aswell as someone on hand throughout the day to take our bets without even having to leave the suite. We bumped into the lovely Sarah of foodie and lifestyle blog EssBeeVee who I’ve had a Twitter crush on since I began blogging and we watched a few races together and bonded over of our love of a cheese plate and mini cakes.
As the weather was glorious and a breath of fresh air was needed after one too many glasses of champagne, we took to the open enclosure to place a few bets, soak up some sun and cheer on our horses “in the thick of it”. also found that milling about gave us the perfect opportunity to speak to others placing bets to get their best tips… turns out none of them were particularly successful tips but when we were only placing a couple of quid bets here and there we weren’t really losing a great fortune (not like some of the people you’d see looking aghast when their horse didn’t come in!).
I’m particularly hopeless when putting money on races – I completely disregard odds, form, previous races etc and tend to plump entirely for horses based on their names. Call me sentimental or y’know, an absolute idiot (to all you keen betting folk out there) but we grabbed a copy of the runners for the day and placed our £2 (or £2.50 if we were feeling flush) bets on any horses whose name resonated with us. Not the most professional way to bet I know, but I walked away £12 up on what I’d bet so I was a happy racegoer, despite which I could add a few 0’s to my final winnings.
Following a quick freshen up back at The Lodge, we headed out to partake in the after party of live music, sink a few more drinks and have a bit of a dance before walking the 3 minutes back to the hotel where we were greeted by Juan, the lovely receptionist of the hotel who was an absolute pleasure.
The Lodge is lovely and far surpassed my expectations after hearing the words “jockey hostel”. When I hear hostel I tend to think of a) the film or b) unwashed backpackers and bunk beds, but I needn’t have worried, with bright and sumptuous décor in the reception area, clean, modern and comfortable rooms with a rustic/country living twist The Lodge was anything but hostel like and was more like a 4 star hotel with equally as impressive service. The proximity to the racecourse made for such an easy stopover without the need to get a hotel in Newbury town centre, although we were told that the party does continue in the town after the live entertainment finished at approximately 9pm. It wasn’t an issue for us as we were happy to get back to the hotel, order Papa John’s pizza and watch the Eurovision Song Contest with a cup of tea.
Before leaving the next morning to embark on a 3 hour drive back to sunny Stoke, we sat down to cereal, toast and a full English breakfast with as much coffee that we could possibly drink in the canteen come dining room of The Lodge… and believe me, we needed a LOT of coffee following our festivities on the previous day.
The dress I wore for the day was a gorgeous cream lace dress with embroidery detailing with shift dress from Navabi*. It’s not currently ins stock on the website but you can keep an eye out just in case they stock it again!