Cartmel has won a prestigious award for its groundskeeping at The National Racecourse Association’s Showcase Awards.
The Cumbrian course had already scooped the individual award for jump racecourses, but pipped York and Ascot to the post for the overall Racecourse Groundstaff Award at the ceremony in Pontefract last week.
The award recognises the work of head groundsman Gary Sharp, a 20-year veteran of the Cartmel staff, and his team who look after the course year-round.
Geraldine McKay, Cartmel’s Racecourse Director, said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to have won this award against stiff competition.
“It is a testament to the hard work and dedication of Gary and his team who go above and beyond to make sure the course is in tip top condition.
“Having good conditions means the horses and riders are safe and everyone can enjoy a fabulous day out.”
In the run up to racedays, Gary and the team, assistant Jamie King, plus Brad Thompson, Mike Helly and David Hudson have a busy schedule to keep the course well maintained.
Gary said: “Every time a horse moves that’s four more holes in the race track, and it’s a mile round and every horse goes around at least twice on the shortest race.
“We always have a keen eye on the weather too in case we have to start irrigating to stop it drying out so much that the track will be unsafe.
“If we’ve got to start irrigating we’ve only got a small team of five or six and that’s two people irrigating all day without being able to do anything else.
“Irrigating is watering the race course, putting some ease in the ground. You’re softening the ground so there’s a better cushion for a horse.”
As well as irrigation, the team also moves railings to find the best ground for racing and makes repairs to the course’s six fences and four flights of hurdles.
Each has to meet specific guidelines – 4ft 6in for fences, 3ft for hurdles – which are checked by a British Horseracing Authority inspector at the start of a season.
Gary added: “When we get to a meeting and we know that we’ve done the best we can and people are coming up saying the venue looks nice and the racing professionals are happy with the surface that we’re providing then we know we are doing something right.”
This isn’t the first time Cartmel have been recognised for their exemplary groundskeeping having won the award in 2016 as well.