The Groundsman

June 2012

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the Groundsman June 2012 "Despite the horrendous amount of rainfall last month, we are on schedule to have everything just perfect for Royal Ascot," says Gil. Presentation, he adds, will be foremost on the one mile six furlong right- handed course which is 60 per cent rye plus smooth stalk meadow and fescue. It is overseeded each year with mainly rye, and rye is used in the 70/30 divot mix. "Following vertidraining/aeration in late May – a key process - the grass will be three-and-a-half inches high [it's slightly longer for jump meetings], the fertiliser went down as planned, and mowing and strimming, throughout the venue, is ongoing. Everything has been repaired, the rails are clean, and the car parks, gardens and heath (the area in the middle of the racecourse) will all be ready for our visitors and the TV cameras!" While contractors are used for most tasks outside the track, Gil and his team of 12 Few sporting venues can match the heritage and history of Ascot Racecourse. Queen Anne first saw the potential for a racecourse at Ascot, which in those days was called East Cote - the first race meeting there was in 1711 – and, today, the Queen Anne Stakes continues to be run in memory of the monarch who founded the course. The racecourse was laid out by William Lowen, who was assisted by a team of helpers, and the first permanent building was erected in about 1794. It held 1,650 people and was used until 1838. In 1813, Parliament passed an Act of Enclosure to ensure that Ascot Heath, although the property of the Crown, full-time groundscare professionals (boosted by another seven causal staff during Royal Ascot, for tasks such as devoting/treading/brushing) take care of everything on the track. This includes moving the running rail (on the bends), which is sited in one position for the first three days of the meeting then moved to give the horses fresh turf for the remaining two days, for The Coronation Stakes and The Diamond Jubilee Stakes. The rail is positioned by using a mixture of surveyed positions coupled with the expert use of a rope and measurements. "By concentrating on the track, we can do what we want, when we want and when the conditions are right," adds Gil, "and, of course, we have the appropriate experience." That is certainly an understatement when you consider that Gil's 45 or so years in horse racing includes spells at Sandown History of the course would be kept and used as a racecourse for the public in the future. The precise origin of the Royal Meeting is unclear; it was an event that evolved perhaps, rather than was introduced at a specific time but the first four-day meeting took place in 1768. Arguably, the meeting as we know it today started to take shape with the introduction of the Gold Cup in 1807. Royal Ascot was the only race meeting held at Ascot until 1939. The Gold Cup remains the feature race of the third day of Royal Ascot and is colloquially known as 'Ladies' Day'. Although founded by a Queen and located on Crown property, the administration of Ascot has always been handled on behalf of the Crown by a representative appointed by the Monarch. The inaugural QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot attracted over 26,000 race goers to the course for what was officially "the best day's racing anywhere in the world in 2011". The racecourse also offers a wide choice of entertaining opportunities, including: • 300 meeting and dining rooms • Event space for up to 3,000 people • Over 4,000 m2 of exhibition space • 179 acres of parkland. A call toda y could g et you a great deal ...and you'll be surprised at the finance packages we could tailor to suit. Don't delay call 01638 720123 FEATURE 19 and Ascot; while Chris, who has been at Ascot since 2005, was formerly at Lingfield, Folkestone and Windsor racecourses. Both obviously know the sand-based course intimately – and they both know the exact conditions that suit the horses and the jockeys, and year on year they continue to meet the expectations of the viewing public as well, of course, as those of their Royal visitors! Clerk of the Course, Chris Stickels availab *P/X aila le P/X Progre Tr Revolut T ssive Pro-Fle Rotary Mo iloVacuum Swee ionaeer C G Tre k e sy AT ric , e t x wer per ns brid M ao n H y w d er

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