Preparation and hard work are key to a successful race day

Louise Grey, kelso races marketing manager.
Louise Grey, kelso races marketing manager.
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A day at the races for most of us means a day of relaxation and enjoyment, a small bet perhaps and maybe a drink or two to help the day along.

But for the busy team behind the running of Kelso Racecourse a day at the races is anything but relaxing. For managing director Richard Landale and his team, the to-do list for a race meeting is extensive and exhaustive.

Once you start to learn about the quantity and diversity of issues that need to be attended to, you begin to wonder how they ever manage to pull it off at all.

Louise Grey, now in her third season of looking after marketing and PR at Kelso, explains that a successful race day is all about preparation.

“There are lots of things that need to be taken care of well in advance. Advertising, PR, sponsors and hospitality requirements all need to be organised well before the actual day,” she explains.

Louise’s duties also include using new technology to reach customers.

“Social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter are becoming increasingly important,” she says. “We work hard at keeping Kelso up to date in that respect.”

Race day itself involves an early start.

“We usually meet up at the racecourse office around 7am and are on the racecourse itself by 8am,” Louise explains. “Myself, Richard and other team members inspect all the facilities, making sure that everything we can think of is exactly as it should be. The small details are important and can make the difference between someone having a fantastic day as opposed to just a good one.”

During the course of the day, Louise will spend time with all the sponsors and hospitality clients, ensuring that everything is running smoothly. “We have a great team at Kelso and we all help out if something needs attending to on the day.”

For clerk of the course Hazel Peplinski, enjoying her first season at Kelso, there is an even earlier start. “By 6.40am we will already have completed an inspection and be in a position to relay information on the condition of the course to the national media,” she told us.

It’s not only the media who need information, as Hazel goes on to explain. “By 6.50am we will have sent information on current ground conditions to every trainer who has declared runners.” Communication is clearly a massive part of the role as Hazel further emphasises: “Some owners and trainers make long journeys to get to Kelso and we try our best to ensure they don’t make a wasted trip.”

Like Louise, Hazel stresses that preparation is all-important. “We have a great team of ground staff at Kelso, led by Brian Meikle. Brian and I will carefully plan the course set-up together, ensuring that safety concerns are addressed and that we maintain the course in tip-top condition by having fresh ground, as far as is possible, for every meeting.”

Hazel doubles up her duties at Kelso with her clerk’s role at Hamilton racecourse and, with Hamilton racing predominantly in the summer and Kelso in the winter, it’s an ideal situation.

“Both tracks are very different with different challenges but, as a long time Kelso race-goer prior to taking up my new role, I already knew most of the team here and they have been very supportive as I’ve found my feet.”

Managing director Richard Landale’s day is totally focused on ensuring everyone who visits the course has a great day out. “I’ll join Louise at the office first thing before inspecting every single area we will be using on the day. I’ll then be back in the office taking queries before meeting and greeting guests and sponsors from about 11 am.

“I then spend the rest of the day helping ensure things run smoothly. One of the important things is ensuring we have no delays to the racing itself – such are the demands of television nowadays.”

If all that wasn’t exhausting enough all three of them will join the rest of the Kelso team in beginning preparations for the next meeting almost immediately. For example, Hazel and her team of ground staff will debrief at the end of racing on the day itself, assessing the work required to make any repairs to the track and organising a team to start work on that straight away.

Each race day is a challenge, but the team at Kelso seem to thrive on that.

Louise is in no doubt: “I love my job but the best bit of it is the race days. Meeting people and enjoying the unique atmosphere and buzz on the track, you can’t beat it.”