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Alan Crowhurst has the pleasure of capturing horseracing at Ascot, one of the world’s biggest platforms for the sport.

He is the winner of the Alternative View category at the 2013 Getty Images Editorial Photography Awards as well as the HWPA Photographer of the Year Award 2013 for his work at Ascot.

The start of 2014 and the ongoing deal with Ascot racecourse continues. 

Looking back on the previous year there always seems to be good images to be had at this track especially during the royal meeting. Ascot like to use a mixture of photographic styles from straight forward editorial to images processed using digital filters (Snapseed).  I enjoy shooting images that I know will be used with digital filters as they enhance the picture with strong colours and contrast and with a broken key line around the image to finish it off, it just gives the whole thing a new and modern magazine style look.

I always arrive at the course at least two or three hours before the first race is due to allow myself time to set up and take a wander around the enclosures, weighing room, changing room etc. to see if there is something that I could photograph that I would normally not see or be allowed to get access to later on in the day. 

I take an array of cameras and lenses to the meetings that include five Nikon bodies (1x D3x, 1x D3s, 3x D3 a couple of Fuji cameras 1x X Pro1 and 1x X100) and several lenses that include - 14, 20, 24, 28, 35, 50 ,85, 80-200, 300, 600 and a TC1.4x. There will also be 4x Pocketwizard remotes to allow me to shoot images through the wings of a fence on the take off side and sometimes under the fence on the landing side during the national hunt season. I would also use these during the flat race season allowing me to set a remote on both sides of the track at the same time. During the prestigious royal meeting in June I would get to the track even earlier than normal as the gates are open to the public around 11:00. Keeping an eye on the race goers entering you might spot something that looks a little off beat and worthy of a snap. I would venture out of the press room a few times during the morning and early afternoon before the first race and take a stroll around the enclosures to grab shots of people drinking champagne and enjoying themselves whilst they are dressed in top hat and tails for the gentlemen and dresses for the ladies.

Many union jacks are placed inside and out around the concourse and track and images with these flags alongside top hats means it can only be one place and that is Royal Ascot. Once the royal procession has made its way down the track at 14:00 all eyes are the on the horses as the racing starts at 14:30 and with 35 minutes between races there isn't a lot of time for anything other than be focused on the equine form rather than the human.

  • ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 18: (EDITORS NOTE: This image was processed using digital filters) Racegoers arrive at the grandstand during day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 18, 2013 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images for Ascot Racecourse)
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  • ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 18: (EDITORS NOTE: This image was processed using digital filters) Racegoers gather in the parade ring during day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 18, 2013 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images for Ascot Racecourse)
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  • ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 19: (EDITORS NOTE: This image was processed using digital filters) A racegoer wearing top hat and tails arrives day two of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 19, 2013 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images for Ascot Racecourse)
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  • ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 19: (EDITORS NOTE: This image was processed using digital filters) Runners in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes come over the brow of the hill during day two of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 19, 2013 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images for Ascot Racecourse)
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  • ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 19: (EDITORS NOTE: This image was processed using digital filters) Racegoers during day two of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 19, 2013 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images for Ascot Racecourse)
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  • ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 20: (EDITORS NOTE: This image was processed using digital filters) The Royal Carriage procession makes it way up the straight mile past the grandstand on Ladies' Day during day three of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 20, 2013 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images for Ascot Racecourse)
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  • ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 22: (EDITORS NOTE: This image was processed using digital filters) A general view of the grandstands during day five of Royal Ascot at Ascot racecourse on June 22, 2013 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images for Ascot Racecourse)
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About Alan Crowhurst

I got into photography when a friend bought a Canon AE1 in about 1981. I loved a flutter on the horses and dog racing as my Granddad was a bookie, and once I tired of losing I decided to go still, but take a camera instead and was hooked from that point onwards.

My first sport related published picture was in the Racing Post in 1990 of greyhound racing from Hove. I went on to provide images for The Greyhound Monthly magazine for a couple of years. I then started shooting football and rugby at the weekends for Sportsbeat Images around 2004 and from that point onwards all I wanted to do was make it a full time job.

Horse racing was always my first passion and after leaving a sales position within Sportsbeat, I went freelance. Having spoken to many picture desks on the sales side I knew a lot of the picture editors and I would give them a ring on a Wednesday or Thursday to see if any shifts were going, along with the agencies. Persistence paid off as I began to cover events for PA, Sunday Times, Guardian, AP, Sunday Mirror, NOTW and features for Rugby World and L'Equipe.

In 2009 I won the HWPA racing photographer of the year award and my break came in 2010 when I was offered work with Getty Images covering mainly horse racing. I couldn't have wished for a better opportunity and jumped at the chance. I repeated my HWPA win in 2013 along with winning the Getty Images 'Alternative View' picture of the year award. The last two awards meant a lot to me as they were both linked with Getty Images. I photograph the odd rugby and football match but my heart lies in the sport of kings.

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