Although I’ve been to the races, I can honestly say I’ve never considered taking the children until I was offered the opportunity to review the family race day at Beverley Racecourse.
As part of Great British Racing’s ‘Under 18s Race Free’ initiative, there are 60 racecourses throughout Great Britain where under 18s are admitted free of charge to the vast majority of fixtures throughout the year, when accompanied by a paying adult. So, always open to new experiences, we packed up and headed north, joining an astounding number of families for the Paw Patrol event held at Beverley Racecourse.
We arrived early and located the Cleverleys bistro and bar, getting the day off to a strong start with fish finger butties for my little ones and warm beef and horseradish for me. The staff couldn’t have been friendlier and although the beef was more well done than I’d choose, the food was good; Emilie’s butty was almost as big as her head. They chose from the main menu at a cost of £8.95 each, but other than an ice lolly later on they were more than satisfied for the whole time we were there.
There were also sharing options on the menu which the staff did indicate were good value too and a wide range of options from ‘Sumptuous fine dining’ to fish and chips, which meant that if you hadn’t brought your picnic you were more than catered for.
The loud speaker outside alerted us to the ‘Bark de Triomphe’ so a quick trip to the (mercifully clean and plentiful) toilets and we were out and on the hunt for trainers and jockeys dogs, who were to run in the charity race. Charlie immediately requested a pug and wasn’t disappointed, although my firm favourite was, I think, Bailey? Who leaped, full bodied, into the water used to help cool and rehydrate animals – (well he was certainly cool!)
The charity race itself was as much fun as it sounds, with pets pitched against each other and in the vast majority far more intent on playing, running the wrong way and another favourite of mine, being carried to the finish line.
Next we made our way over to the family event; Showing passes to cross the track meant that at safe times during the day we seemed to constantly travel back and forth without issue. I realised we’d just missed the Paw Patrol meet and greet so instead went to get all important glitter tattoos. Local companies provided a mixture of activities and events including a bouncy slide and castle, face painting, fair type swings and a small fairground ride. All very family friendly and as one lady commented to me ‘so much to do.’
The organisation was actually such, that many of the children we saw, largely seemed to stay in this central area, picnicking, playing and generally enjoying themselves; surrounded by the racing and simultaneously enjoying story time with Sky and Chase, telling their own adventurous tales, as well as meeting and taking photos with the duo.
We stuck around for some of the story time then hot footed it back over the track to watch the first race. There was genuinely no pressure to place a bet other than the usual visual opportunities and we chose 1 horse for each race to place a small wager on. Obviously, you have to be 18 to place a bet so that was my job!
As it turned out this, for us, was an excellent education in how to lose on each one but we loved spending the time together, looking over the Raceday programme and carefully selecting based on hat, jacket colour, number and name! We did quickly realise that being trackside meant that the children actually could see very little and we moved to where I have traditionally sat with a glass of something sparkling, much higher in the stands. Here they became more excited as they saw the action, felt the shared excitement of the crowd and enjoyed walking up to see their horse before each race before cheering him for, as Emilie pointed out, ‘taking part’ (roughly translated to ‘not winning!’)
Over the summer holidays there are more than 200 fixtures up and down the country, including 50 special family days with additional activities put on for families and young people and I’ll say I was pleasantly surprised by it as an event, we literally didn’t stop all day and by the end of the day I had two, exhausted but happy children.
To find out more about ‘Under 18s Race Free’ and find a family race day near you, go to www.under18sracefree.com
We were gifted tickets to the raceday at Beverley but all opinions are our own.
Further Family Raceday events taking place in Yorkshire this summer:
Monday 5th August – Ripon ‘Family Brick Adventure’
Family Brick Adventure! Lots of FREE fun for Lego fans with fantastic displays and interactive sessions with experts for kids!
Tuesday 6th August – Catterick ‘Forces Family Day’
Enjoy an action packed afternoon of thrilling racing action and fun-filled family entertainment! There will be free entertainment in the course enclosure including Boot Camp Challenge, a giant inflatable obstacle course.
Friday 9th August – Thirsk ‘All Creatures Great & Small Family Day’
Join us for an action packed day at Thirsk Races with fun for all of the family on our James Herriot ‘All Creatures Great & Small’ Family Day.
We have plenty of children’s entertainment planned throughout the day to keep the kids entertained. As well as bouncy castles and play areas; there will also be a petting farm, pony rides to enjoy and much more.
Saturday 10th August – Redcar ‘Caribbean Carnival Day’
When it comes to family fun, this is one of the highlights of the year, with a chance to don your best pirate outfit or favourite Caribbean shirt.
Boogie along to the North Tyneside Steel Band, learn some pirate chants, and grab some treasure in our fancy dress competitions for both adults and children. No wonder every pirate’s favourite racecourse is Redcaaaaaar!
Sunday 18th August – Pontefract ‘In the Zone Family Day’
Our renowned Sunday fixtures not only feature the best racing of the year at Pontefract but they are also the 3 fixtures each season dedicated to families.
As well as special events on each Sunday raceday, there will also be a funfair, face painting, circus, free sweets, activity packs and racecards for kids, pony rides, trips to the starts of races and a ‘Hunt The Golden Horseshoe’ competition on every Family Day!
Monday 19th August – Catterick ‘Carnival Family Day’
Free entertainment will be available throughout the afternoon in the Course Enclosure including a Coconut Shy, Chair Planes ride and more!
Sunday 25th August – Beverley ‘Circus Family Raceday’
This bank holiday day full of fun features funfair rides and a variety of stalls from The Beverley Lions. There will also be a Big Top and circus training brought to you by Greentop Circus. For the adults, there will be a beer festival to enjoy, as well as lots of exciting races.
Facilitated by Racing to School, an education charity which delivers free outdoor learning activities for young people at racecourses, studs and trainers’ yards across the country, a Kids’ Takeover Day is being rolled out at Beverley and a number of racecourses across the summer by Great British Racing, offering children unprecedented access to the races and the chance to turn their hand to some of horseracing’s greatest job roles.
Monday 26th August – Ripon ‘Bank Holiday Family Day’
Join us for our classic August Bank Holiday family fun day. Not only do we have lots of FREE family fun for the junior racegoers but we have FREE entry for accompanied u18’s and fantastic racing action on the track.
Friday 30th August – Thirsk ‘Pirates Family Day’
Pirates Family Day sees the return of the brilliant Captain Jack Sparrow look-a-like with his swashbuckling shenanigans. Follow his antics as he tries to recruit more seafaring crew and tries his hand on the coconut shy.
There will be a treasure hunt in the family enclosure, which if successful a chest full of treasure can be found. There will be face painting and a huge inflatable Pirate Ship Assault Course for those more adventurous among you