Chris Cook: Congratulations to Hamilton for being named champion racecourse at the annual Showcase awards on Thursday night, a result that shows this particular gong does not simply go to the entrant with the biggest reputation.
Hamilton was nominated in four categories last night: food & beverage, operational excellence, top spot and the Racing Post readers award. No other track had more than three nominations and that evidence of quality and initiative counted for quite a bit in the final reckoning.
As a result, Hamilton is now in the company of Goodwood, Chester, Ascot, York and Aintree, the most recent Showcase champions, which suggests to me the Scottish track is punching well above its weight.
Ive now finished a three-year stint on the awards panel. It was a really instructive experience that Id recommend to whoever is asked to do it next year. What I love about the Showcase initiative, now almost a decade old, is the way it encourages racecourses to learn from each other and to pinch good ideas from elsewhere.
Not all tracks commit to the Showcase system but most do and some show real determination to make their mark through these awards. Im certain its helping racecourses to become more rewarding places to visit.
Show Hide For Fridays rewards, Im relying on Dexcite (2.30) at Warwick, where he has his second outing since joining Alan King. Now seven, he won a couple of races for Tom George a couple of years ago and showed some encouragement on his comeback run last December, but, for whatever reason, the rest of the season didnt work out well for him.
He was on a good mark then but is on an even better one now, 17lb below the peak rating he had when tried in the Greatwood three years ago. He was far too fresh on his reappearance at Huntingdon, pulling away his chance at the back, but was still able to run on past beaten horses into fifth. With some air out of his tyres, we might see a better effort from him here and Im encouraged to see some support for him back into 4-1 after he initially drifted out to 6-1.
Kalashnikov, runner-up in the Supreme Novice Hurdle, makes his chasing debut half an hour earlier and ought to win handily but is hardly backable at 2-7. But I do like 4-1 about West Wizard (3.35) in the later handicap chase.
Im afraid I missed the wedding with this one, so quite possibly Im turning up just in time for the funeral. I thought he was worth a few quid at 100-1 in the Kim Muir back in March but he was held onto for far too long and then rocketed up the straight into a noble eighth place. Then I let him go unbacked for his Market Rasen reappearance, when he won at 6s. Heigh ho, but he still looks well treated after a 6lb rise and appeals to me most in this field.
At Fontwell, theres 9-2 about Shambra (2.20), who is weighted to turn around Stratford form with Solstalla and has more to offer in any case.
Warwick 12.50 Percy Prosecco 1.25 Worthy Farm 2.00 Kalashnikov 2.30 Dexcite (nap) 3.05 Irish Octave 3.35 West Wizard 4.05 Jemima P
Hexham 1.05 Windsor Avenue 1.40 Mistiroc 2.10 Geronimo 2.45 Back To Balloo 3.15 Arizona Bound 3.45 Chanceiton
Fontwell 1.15 Gold Bonne Raine 1.50 Jet Set 2.20 Shambra (nb) 2.55 Commanche Red 3.25 Sounds Of Italy 3.55 Sign Of War
Newcastle 5.15 Alfred Richardson 5.45 Island Glen 6.15 Thirlmere 6.45 Twilight 7.15 Mossys Lodge 7.45 Silk Mill Blue 8.15 Grinty 8.45 Indian Warrior
Hamilton was on Thursday crowned champion racecourse at the ninth RCA Showcase Awards at which tracks are recognised for showing “excellence and innovation” in customer experience.
It was the first time Hamilton had received the top honour and came after it received four nominations across the various categories, more than any other course.
Hamilton also claimed the #TopSpot Award for their innovative elevators which are designed to replicate starting stalls.
Racecourse Association chairman Maggie Carver said: “Im absolutely thrilled for the team at Hamilton Park on being crowned Showcase champion. This accolade is reserved for a very select number of racecourses who have demonstrated brilliance in providing a fantastic experience for racegoers across the season.”
In all 25 tracks received nominations for the awards, which took place at Aintree racecourse, with 15 awards handed out by special guests Sam Quek and Katie Walsh. The Racing Post, along with Moët Hennessy, Racing Breaks and Great British Racing (GBR), were partners for the awards.
Cartmel collected the Racing Post Readers’ Award, the only award to be nominated by racegoers, with the racecourse receiving more than 300 submissions.
It was a good night for the Arena Racing Company group with Bath’s Kids Takeover Racing raceday winning the Events category, the Operational Excellence prize was awarded to Windsor for its Monday night series, while Uttoxeter’s submission around prostate cancer awareness and prevention claimed the Community & Corporate Social Responsibility Award.