|Our trips are designed for people who like horse racing and who appreciate a level of comfort. Hopefully they can be enjoyed by the relatively uninitiated, but we've also put enough quality and "back-of-the-shop" elements in them to make them appealing to those already more immersed in racing, either as professionals or as owners.
In setting them up we have had to make some basic decisions regarding group size, trip length and pacing, racecourse hospitality, and hotel selection. We'd like to share our thinking with you here, to help you decide whether our trips are for you.
Our groups will be sized from eight to eighteen people. This is large enough to achieve some economies of scale and to make possible certain kinds of racecourse experiences that would not be so with a lesser number. But the groups will be small enough to allow us access to farms and stables in ways that would not be feasible with a more unwieldy crowd. We also think the size strikes the right balance between the potential for social claustrophobia in a too-small group, and the danger of getting lost in the impersonal herd of a too-large one.
Trip Length and Pacing:
We do trips of many different lengths, ranging from eight days for our shortest European trips up to as many as fifteen days for an opposite-hemisphere trip. These trip lengths as we describe them always include the departure and return days from and back to the U.S.
Our trips are set up to give you racing experiences in at least two, and hopefully more, distinct environments. We try to keep the packing-and-unpacking to a minimum and change hotels as little as possible. But depending on the timing and destination, we sometimes might stay at two or three different locations to take advantage of as many different racing opportunities as we can within a limited amount of time.
During our trips there are organized activities on the bulk of the days, but we usually include open days or partial days for you to use for relaxation and your own special interests. If it's a destination where we can assume most of the group won't have previously been — such as our Australia trips in 2008 and 2014 or our one to Argentina in 2010 — we make a point of including some "generic" sightseeing along with the racing-related outings. By design, there are not a lot of group activities planned for the evenings. You will always be free to make your own dining choices, but we usually organize some group dinners for those who want to join in.
It's impossible to have length and pacing that satisfies everyone, however — some people will always want more and others will want less. That is why we design each trip to begin or end in such a way that a longer stay can easily be added on at the beginning or the end of our itinerary.
You are not limited to our specific arrival and departure cities. You are perfectly welcome to join us on the "Arrival" days of our trips — "Day 2" in the trip descriptions — from wherever you've been and for however long you've been there. And you may make any independent arrangements you wish to begin at the conclusion of the trips. We cannot, however, accommodate people who might want to join us for only a portion of our itineraries; you must be with us from the night of Day 2 through to the morning of the final day.
"No-Host" Lunches and Dinners.
In the trip descriptions, you will see references to "no-host" lunches or dinners. These are meals where we make a group booking and invite the trip members to come along if they wish. Everybody will be responsible for their own bill at these times. The alternative would have been to price out a meal and add it to the cost of the trip - even if it necessitated pre-selecting the menu items and even if it occurred at a time in the trip when some might have preferred to be doing other things. This way, you will have the choice.
Days at the Races.
These decisions can be the hardest to make, because racecourses in Europe and elsewhere are often set up so differently from those in the U.S. The norm for a day's racing in Europe is to be mobile - and to grab spots to sit from time to time and place to place as they appear. At most European tracks there is no equivalent to the railed-off section of seats we call a "box" in the U.S., and what we would term "reserved grandstand seating" is limited if it exists at all. Even in the premier enclosure of the top tracks — what we would call the "clubhouse" — most of the "stands" are for actual standing: tiered levels for viewing with no seats at all.
Because Americans are used to having a place to sit, we have secured reserved seating with good viewing in one form or another on most major race days. In some cases, we will have a block of seats. At courses where we can't, but where we feel that the race-viewing from the course restaurant is acceptable, we will use this option. On relatively quiet and uncrowded race days at secondary courses, we will "go native" and find our own places to sit — because they will be abundantly available and because we think you should have this experience, also.
We choose our hotels on the basis of comfort, atmosphere, and location. Because ultra-modern design schemes are near-ubiquitous in hotels worldwide today, when we have the choice we opt for properties that are unique and have their own distinct and traditional character. And we usually select a primary room category that offers you a bit of extra breathing space.
In our detailed itinerary descriptions we always provide a link to each hotel's website so that you may investigate the property to the degree you desire.
Because everybody has their own airline loyalties and favorite frequent-flyer accounts to build up, and especially because our group members will be coming to our destinations from disparate parts of the U.S. and may be staying for different periods of time, we leave your international travel arrangements to your discretion. If you do not have an established relationship with one or more airlines, there are many ways to ferret out the best air program for your needs, including the internet or a travel agent.
Our arrangements begin with your flight arrival. We will meet your incoming flight and transfer you to our starting hotel. The same thing happens at the end of the trip — we provide transport from our ending hotel to the airport for your departing flight.
Arrangements for any city-to-city transfers inside the structure of the itineraries are provided by us and included in the price of the trip.
Some of our trips begin in one city and end in another, so this should always be kept in mind when making air reservations.
Foreign Currency Exchange Rates.
Our prices, obviously, are heavily influenced by the exchange rates between the U.S. dollar and the currencies of the countries we visit. The bulk of our arrangements must be purchased in the local currency.
We do our best to manage currency fluctuations, but our dollar prices must be estimated and set many months in advance. In each itinerary description we state the exchange rates we have used to calculate our pricing, and we do need to reserve the right to adjust the dollar prices of the trips, up to as late as thirty days prior to the start of a trip.
We hope we have explained here why our trips are the way they are. They are not for everybody and are not intended to be. If you like the sport of Thoroughbred racing and a certain degree of comfort and ambience, and if you have the appetite to travel and interact with a small group of like-minded people, we believe you will be happy with us.
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