Trainer upset over 'appalling' scenes at Lingfield's Craig David concert fixture
Trainer Ed Walker has berated Lingfield following a controversial Craig David concert fixture that left the Arena Racing Company responding to a torrent of criticism and prompted one local councillor to claim the racecourse brought shame on the sport.
Walker, who attended the 12,000 sellout afternoon meeting, described "appalling" scenes and claimed racing had been a secondary attraction to the music.
Allegations of overcrowding, overpricing of food, hour-long queues to use toilets and the confiscation of racegoers' property have been levelled against the venue.
In responding to the criticism, both Lingfield and Arc admitted errors had been made, with the track stating it was "genuinely sorry" if expectations had not been met.
"It was appalling," said Walker. "There were too many people. It was a seriously unpleasant experience.
"Saturday was a classic example of the greedy, commercial side of racecourses. They crammed in as many as they possibly could with no regard for the racegoer and, more importantly, the owners, who couldn't get in their car park or the owners' bar.
"I think it's a sad state of affairs when you are going racing and the actual racing is the undercard to something else. That's something we need to be careful of as an industry.
"Days like that are enough for me to not go back to Lingfield in a hurry and my owners agree with that."
Parish councillor Andrea Watson lives opposite the track and is a regular visitor to what she on Monday described as "a lovely course". What happened on Saturday was, in her opinion, far from lovely.
"The village just cannot cope with 12,000 concert goers," said Watson.
"Crowds of young people leaving the racecourse at around 8pm were staggering along unlit roads throwing litter everywhere.
"At 10pm we saw a group of drunk men running down the centre of Station Road and three women lying in a ditch on Town Hill. There is almost no street lighting here, so it was a miracle no one was seriously injured."
She added: "The extraordinary tide of filth and litter has been cleared to a large extent but this was not done until morning. Everywhere you still find glasses, bottles, plastic bags and other debris on the verges, in the hedgerows and along the footpaths.
"We have lovely summer race evenings with music and no-one minds, but this event brings shame on the racing world and, indeed, has nothing to do with horseracing, in my view."
Georgina Adam, who has a weekend home in Lingfield, added: "After darkness there was complete chaos on the roads around the racecourse.
"The roads were saturated with traffic and in between the cars were many pedestrians, some of them definitely drunk, weaving around and very difficult to see. It was a miracle no-one was hurt - and if someone had been hurt I don't see how emergency vehicles could have reached them.
"I think permission for such an event should be refused in future."
Although stressing most racegoers "had a great time", and noting poor weather had made matters worse, Arc did not seek to deny mistakes had been made.
"This was the biggest racing and music event Lingfield has staged and it has produced some valuable lessons for the future," said the organisation.
"The team worked through the night on Saturday and Sunday to ensure the site was tidied. The majority of the litter created was caused by plastic waterproof ponchos that had been given out for the event. The inclement weather also ensured guests leaving the racecourse took longer than expected.
"If any of Lingfield Park’s neighbours were inconvenienced by the event we apologise and will continue to liaise with the local community ahead of future events."
Arc also responded to disappointed syndicate owners, some of which were denied the chance to see their horses running after Lingfield staff initially told those not able to get complimentary badges that they could not even pay to enter the track due to the fixture having sold out.
Arc added: "Ensuring all owners have a positive and fun experience on our racecourses is a high priority for Arc.
"It was incorrect for the racecourse to initially state that syndicate members could not purchase extra badges for £10. This was then rectified on the day, but if any owners were affected we apologise and can assure it will not happen again."
Angry racegoer wants her perfume back
Lingfield has explained the decision to confiscate perfume bottles and umbrellas from racegoers entering the track for Saturday's Craig David afternoon meeting, citing recent terror threats.
One racegoer, Jayne Daniel, contacted Lingfield on Monday, complaining she was prevented from bringing a nearly full bottle of Chanel perfume on to racecourse premises and had been told when leaving the scent could not be returned.
Daniel wrote: "I am absolutely disgusted with your decision to take perfume and umbrellas off the public on arrival.
"Putting a notice outside is not good enough - did you think people could go home, drop off the perfume and then come back?
"My perfume was £62 and my umbrella £22, so I was £84 down before I even got through the gates.
"I look forward to hearing from you and I require my perfume back."
In a website statement, Lingfield said: "The team worked with safety experts and specialist security ahead of the event.
"As we are sure everyone can appreciate, given the current national situation, there was a need for additional security in place to ensure racegoers' safety. This included asking customers to hand in umbrellas and glass bottles, including perfume bottles."
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