Champagne and a Flutter at Beverley Racecourse

There are few occasions that can provide some of my favourite things all in one go, like spending time in the countryside, surrounded by horses and sipping champagne. Plus that little rush of adrenaline you get when you take a risk.
Fortunately the summer horse racing calendar offers ample opportunities to indulge and myself and The Harrogate Girl were lucky to be invited by Beverley Racecourse to experience their May Day Race.
I spent the week before planning what to wear, as I love to glam up for the races, so when the morning arrived I laid out my accessories excitedly. I teased and curled my hair, applying my make up to be just subtle enough for a daytime event and layered my Jo Malone fragrances so that it would last all day.
I donned a flirty little 50’s number, with a netted petticoat underneath to give it some added volume, and placed my fascinator jauntily in my hair.
I grabbed my clutch bag and my dapper looking country gent before making our way to the Racecourse. 'The Harrogate Girl' and her date met us in the foyer, resulting in us getting tangled up in handshakes and kisses as we rushed to greet each other.
The first port of call was to try the new 1690 bar in the Premier Enclosure, as it has recently undergone a £1m refurbishment. We ordered our tipples of choice and enjoyed the shelter from the persistent drizzle outside. Far from letting it dampen our spirits, we chatted enthusiastically about our previous racing experiences and techniques for picking a winner.
The carousel horses adorning the new bar looked beautifully ornate, like something from Mary Poppins and as though they were about to gallop straight off the wall.
Soon it was time to place our bets and I decided to test my tactic of picking a grey horse or a jockey in a yellow blazer, showing my lack of real knowledge on the subject, but, as it had paid dividends before it seemed worth a punt. I placed a small bet each way, just to warm up, which gave me a chance to win if my horse came 1st, 2nd or 3rd.
The guys studied the form and checked the odds before heading over to the betting window to place their stake. We all huddled together near the finishing line as the commentator announced that they were off the starting line. We cheered, shouted and willed our gee gee’s on, hoping for a win. People around us jumped up and down as they realised that they’d won, and their friends jovially elbowed and cajoled them to buy the drinks with their earnings.
Sadly I didn’t get a sausage on the first race but our party did, so we felt fairly buoyant. Further drinks and bets ensued, resulting in some nice wins across our group, before we made our way into the stands for a better view of the course.
From here we could see the family picnic area across the course, with blankets strewn with all manner of goodies and children beaming with joy at the animals in the petting zoo. There were rabbits and chicks but my favourites were the ridiculously cute donkeys. I imagined going with the whole family one day, with a homemade picnic hamper full of juicy strawberries and refreshing Pimms.
Soon it was time for us to make our way to the new restaurant in the racecourse, which was absolutely full and had a real buzz about it. Groups of friends laughed loudly at inside jokes and families spent quality time together away from the revellers in the enclosures.
Feeling famished, we were seated and great anticipation built about the champagne afternoon tea to come. The delicious Champagne Mercier arrived promptly, filling the glasses in a foam of pink bubbles. We toasted to a (hopefully) successful afternoon of racing and placed a bet at the tasteful concierge desk at the front of the restaurant.
The inconspicuous screens around the room allowed us to keep one eye on the racing, but as the horses took their places at the starting line, our excitement took over and we abandoned our table for the open air terrace, which provided an amazing view right along the course.
In a scramble between the forerunners, The Harrogate Girl’s horse came in and a flurry of excitement ensued as we celebrated. It must have been a good omen as the sun came out just at that moment.
As we made our way back to our seats, our scrummy looking and very large afternoon tea arrived.
The carnivores (them) enjoyed smoked salmon sandwiches and posh sausage rolls to start and the herbivore (me) had egg mayonnaise sandwiches and mushroom mini quiches. We refreshed the sandwiches a couple of times before we were ready to move onto the sweet course.
Layer upon layer of sweet treats awaited us, from scones with jam and clotted cream, to large chunks of delicious cake. There were chocolate cream eclairs, chocolate brownies, Victoria sponge, lemon drizzle and many more besides. The sweets were generously overflowing the cake stand (there must have been several whole cakes!) and before long we were defeated. Sad to leave them but unable to manage any more, we turned our attention back to the bubbles and the horseracing.  
As we started to make our way out of the restaurant to join the action below, we enjoyed the views of the stunning open plains of the Beverley Westwood, bathed in sunlight and dotted with cows grazing peacefully amongst the trees.  
In what felt like the blink of an eye, it was time for the final race and we made our way over to the paddock to take a closer gander at the horses. By this point I had moved on from looking for grey horses and being a horse lover, I just knew seeing them in the flesh would help me pick a good one.
One by one the long legged thoroughbreds pranced around the paddock, putting on a show for the punters and keeping their trainer’s hands full.
I found two I fancied as winners – one was a very young bay horse with a braided mane and another more experienced chestnut beauty.
We placed our bets and I went on the nose to win on the young bay and each way on my second choice. The odds were long but I just had a feeling and that’s what this game is largely about.
We made our way back to our prime spot, as the sun continued to shine and warm us through. The claxon sounded and the nags took charge, all thundering hooves and flying manes.
I shouted for Arcane Dancer, waving my betting slip wildly and laughing at how crazy we must all look to these majestic animals. I’m a huge animal lover and would never participate in a sport that advocated cruelty in any way but I still get a knot of anxiety when I see them being spurred on.
The horses clustered together in tight formation until the final furlong when Arcane Dancer came up on the inside and stormed into the lead to win the race. I won a cool £65 from a £2 bet, which resulted in lots of shrieking and hugging.
All of us had good wins that day, putting the cherry on the cake, but more importantly, we had such a lovely time at the Racecourse together.

As people made their way towards the bar or towards the exit to continue their revelry in Beverley Town, our group paused for a final moment to reflect on the day and say our goodbyes.
The thrill of having a flutter is unbeatable but we especially enjoyed being able to make an occasion of the day with a champagne afternoon tea. I imagined this would be lovely to do with a group of girl friends for a special celebration.
Moreover, I loved hanging out with 'The Harrogate Girl' and her date, and still maintain that one of the best things about blogging is the people you meet from it.
As the sun set over the medieval town of Beverley, my man and I walked hand in hand, shattered from our adrenaline high but already planning our next visit to the Racecourse. The Party on the Pasture and Rio Carnival look set to be so much fun! 
Have you been to the races before? Are you a glam up and drink champers type or do you prefer a picnic blanket with the kids? I'd like to try Ascot one day so if you've been I'd love to hear your experiences.

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