Andre Klein is General Manager at Warwick Racecourse. In his latest column with the Observer he looks back at highlights during 2016, and ahead to one of Warwick’s most popular days of the year.
As the end of the year approaches we begin to see lists in the newspapers inviting opinion on the highlights of the last 12-months – the best songs, the best goals, the best quotes, the top ten of everything in 2016.
No doubt the racing papers will forge a table of special moments on the turf. Occasions that stirred the emotions, made history or drew large gasps or even made us romantic racing types wipe tears from our eyes.
For me, the top ‘typical’ moment was Sprinter Sacre winning the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. A horse that was held in such high regard, written off by many as a spent force, returning to form in such emphatic fashion was a sight to behold.
His win at Sandown six weeks later in the Bet 365 Celebration Chase was equally stirring, but because I was in the company of my youngest son, Jasper who had begged to attend.
It brought massive pleasure for me to see his eyes lit up by the excitement of the moment as Sprinter pulled away from his rivals in such a powerful fashion to stamp his undeniable claim to being the best in class.
Lists, of course are personal things. Sure we can all appreciate great moments, but the chances are if you backed Un De Sceaux at Cheltenham (or Sandown for that matter) Sprinter Sacre’s magnificent wins would not necessarily feature at the top of your charts.
Racecourse Association’s Showcase Awards
My magical memories from racing in 2016 do not always involve horses winning either races, or even horses making my wallet fatter – not that there have been many of them.
Attending the Racecourse Association’s Showcase Awards with the Warwick Racecourse team hoping to win the Best Campaign prize for the May Racing Carnival was right up there, even though we finished an agonisingly close second behind Newbury.
A balmy evening I had at Windsor races with my aging school mates, at a casually organised reunion sits up high in the top ten.
Back in New Zealand watching one of my horses – Revenge – run in the Grand National Hurdles at Riccarton Park in Christchurch thus fulfilling a long-held ambition to have a runner in this great race rated highly.
Another highlight was lying in the darkness of my bedroom with Trackside Radio NZ on at 3am when another one of my steeds, Odi Et Amo – a horse I’d nurtured since he was a nipper – won his maiden race coming from last to first on the home straight. I woke the neighbours with my cheers of joy.
New Year’s Eve
Funnily enough, I still think have one of the highlights still to come. I truly loved the New Year’s Eve meeting at Warwick last year. We attracted the highest attendance of the year, and queues lined up deep at the turnstiles. It was a wonderful atmosphere and the stands were packed to the rafters.
With New Year’s Eve 2016 coming on a Saturday this time around, we can anticipate an even larger crowd and to be honest there is nothing I will enjoy more than seeing throngs of people having a wonderful day at the race track I am charged with managing. See if it rates as one of your highlights as well and come along.