Race Day at Epsom

Epsom racecourse! Images of highly sprung thoroughbreds, elegantly dressed ladies and the excited hum of an expectant crowd spring to mind. Not on the 25th January 2009 when it hosted the 10th running of the 2000 Perch – just me, women wearing many layers of running gear to protect against the driving rain and the only ‘hum’ was that of embrocation and Deep Heat! After 12 hours of heavy rain, the going was officially soft.

 The bell sounded and we reluctantly left the comfort of the Jockeys changing room for the start. Under starters’ orders and at 10:30 –they’re off – and 600 hardy runners started the first (of many) climbs up towards the Derby starting stalls. A quick left and we are soon galloping down towards Tattenham Corner. Sharp, slippy left and back to climbing towards the top of the course and out onto the footpaths and tracks beyond the all weather gallops. To call them tracks was a misnomer – mud, deep mud and lots of muddy water would be a better description. A mile of wallowing through this and onto a short stretch of tarmac going past houses that would buy half of Blyth before the mud starts again, only deeper and wetter than before.

Yet another long, nasty climb takes us back to the racecourse (Epsom Downs – I only saw Epsom Ups!) and the last stretch beckons. Past a sign informing ‘Downhill from here’ to another climb with a sign saying ‘Apart from this bit’. One last (muddy) climb to the finish and into the Unsaddling Enclosure to collect the prizes (tee-shirt) before trotting off for a quick rub down.

Why 2000 perch – a Perch is an old measure equating to 5.5 yards and 2000 of them is a touch over 10K.


Dave Bradley