The crackle of the loudspeaker, the smell of chips doused in vinegar and the thunder of metal shoes hitting gravel and grass – there's nothing quite like a day at the races. Since 2005, photographer Martin Amis has visited the racecourses of Southern England to capture the anticipation and drama of race day gamblers.
The resulting images are published for the first time in a new book entitled The Gamblers - an affectionate portrait of the racing crowd: a well-informed tribe of enthusiasts from a diverse mix of class and social backgrounds, united in their quest to identify the next winner.
"One of my fondest childhood memories is my regular trips to the races with my father," says Amis. "I loved to watch the horses race, but I loved even more to watch the motley cast of characters betting on them. The stench of beer and tobacco would fill the air, bookmakers’ chants of the latest odds cut through the gamblers lively conversations as I helped my father place his bets. As a photographer, it was a very obvious subject to focus my camera lens upon."
From Lingfield Park to Windsor, Cheltenham to Plumpton and others along the way, for over a decade, Amis has immersed himself in the racing crowds, camera at the ready and often placing a bet himself to help blend in. He was drawn to photograph the people rather than the horses and the honoured rituals common across all courses – researching and making the selection, placing a bet, visiting the parade ring, finding the horse, cheering and the visit the bar to celebrate or commiserate.
The Gamblers by Martin Amis is published by RRB PhotoBooks on 30 April 2018. Buy the book here.