Newbury racecourse prepares for new Ladbrokes Winter Carnival meeting - come summer will it welcome an Aussie star?
Newbury racecourse's long-serving clerk of the course, Richard Osgood, will be busy this month preparing the track and grounds for the new Ladbrokes Winter Carnival meeting on the first Friday and Saturday in December.
This meeting will include the first running of the Ladbrokes Trophy - formerly the Hennessy Gold Cup - one of the country's premier jump races.
However, racecourse staff are still recovering from the surprise announcement that Richard Osgood, aged 61, will be retiring at the end of 2018 - after 18 years as clerk of the course at Newbury. He has been associated with the racecourse since 1979 when he started as assistant manager to his father.
Osgood told the Racing Post: "I've walked the course regularly since 1979 and feel very proud to have played a small part in some highly memorable moment at the racecourse over the last 38 years."
Two of Marlborough's senior trainers have responded to the announcement. Roger Charlton, who trains for the Flat at Beckhampton, tweeted: "Richard Osgood is one of the best clerks of courses and let’s hope he is replaced with someone who trainers can trust."
Barbury Castle trainer - for Flat and Jumps - Alan King wrote that Osgood's retirement made him feel sad: "He's been in place longer than I've trained and has always done an excellent job."
Apart from the forthcoming inaugural run of the Ladbrokes Trophy, Richard Osgood may have another major event to oversee before he retires. It is possible that the Australian super-mare Winx will make her debut in Europe this coming May in Newbury's Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes.
Winx has won all her last 22 starts. Her trainer, Chris Waller, is aiming to take her to Royal Ascot and sees the Newbury race, which is run over the straight mile, as a good warm-up. It would a real feather in Newbury's cap if Winx is brought over for summer racing in Europe - and if Waller chooses the Lockinge Stakes.
Coinciding with their first jump meeting of the season (November 9), Newbury unveiled their new Owners Club for trainers and owners.
This space underneath the racecourse's new offices, provides connections with a VIP entrance, and extensive bar and seating area, and a 200-seat restaurant.
Local trainer Mick Channon thinks this development is fantastic: "...just what Newbury needed and exactly what owners are looking for." Channon is especially impressed by the new touch-screens allowing trainers and owners to watch re-runs of races.