Now that the Government has announced that it will be cutting the stake limit on Fixed Odds Betting terminals from £100 to £2, I’m not sure what I find more depressing: that large numbers of punters would rather place bets on the random generation of numbers by machines, as opposed to exciting sports like horseracing; or that the Government has so precisely jerked its knees in time with the coordinated string-pulling by lobbyists, seemingly without any original thought.Continue reading
Here is the forecast for Scotland and the North of England:
It’s going to be shirt-sleeve order and summer-dresses in Scotland, where there’ll be a variety of outstanding outfits on show at the forthcoming Ladies Days at Perth (Thursday 17th May), Kelso (Sunday 27th May) and Musselburgh (Saturday 2nd June).
On each of those days there’ll be a 99% chance of chilled sparkling wine, with the smattering of Rosé.Continue reading →
When the Earl of Murray, the Regent of Scotland, died in Musselburgh in 1332, the next Regent offered to reward the local residents for the care that they’d given to his predecessor. The townsfolk declined the reward, claiming that they were only doing their duty, eliciting the comment that they were ‘a set of honest men’ – resulting in Musselburgh’s epithet ‘The Honest Toun’.
It’s an old toun too; the Romans built fortifications close to the River Esk, on an area that was probably populated more than two thousand years ago, presumably to keep the East Lothian councillors at bay.Continue reading →
Roy Castle, the presenter of the children’s TV show Record Breakers, used to sing: “If you want to be the best, if you want to beat the best, dedication is what it takes.”
However, according to Jordyn Smith, all you need to become a Junior World Champion in Taekwondo is red hair. The Falkirk based 17-year-old, who has just won a gold medal in Tunisia, was initially taken to Taekwondo training sessions at the age of four because her father was concerned that she might get picked on because of her hair colour.Continue reading →
Kelso Racecourse is one of the most diverse venues in Britain – welcoming, as it does, visitors from Galashiels, Selkirk… and Hawick.
Normally, of course, people from the Border towns (or ‘toons’ as the local dialect terms them) wouldn’t spend much time associating with one another. Rivalry is intense and residents of Hawick have often been heard to argue that there’s only ever been one good thing to come out of Galashiels; it’s called the A7.Continue reading →
Once experienced, no one ever forgets the Aintree Dream. I know because I had an Aintree Dream a couple of years ago – I was riding a big black horse for the Cartmel-based trainer Jimmy Moffatt, on which I soared over all the fences and finished second in the World’s greatest steeplechase.
The feeling of total exhilaration was like nothing else, until I realised that I was still wearing my pyjamas.Continue reading →
I’ve been excitedly telling everyone, or at least anyone that will listen, that the ITV racing team will be in the Scottish Borders on Saturday in order to present coverage of the races from Kelso. Which is absolutely true, but also slightly confusing.
Because if you tune your telly to ITV on Saturday afternoon, expecting to see the horseracing, you’ll probably witness a murder. It’s the one where DCI Barnaby investigates the outspoken proprietor of Midsomer Life Magazine, after a dead body is found in Midsomer Sonning. I think I’ve seen it before and I don’t think there were any horses in it. Maybe one – but it wasn’t a Thoroughbred.Continue reading →
As April Fool stunts go, dying and then being discovered alive again is quite a biggie.
It certainly got people talking when John Darwin did it in 2002. He was the man who paddled out to sea from a beach near Hartlepool, sparking a large-scale search which eventually ended when they found his empty canoe. He reappeared five years later and received a six-year prison sentence for his trouble. Interestingly, his wife, who colluded but didn’t actually disappear, received a jail term which was three months longer than her husband’s.Continue reading →
Readers of last week’s blog will have discovered, by now, that my Cheltenham Festival intelligence, gathered from a friendly time-traveller, was not quite so valuable as first imagined.
I’m fast beginning to wonder whether the late Professor Stephen Hawking wasn’t right after all – and that the physical transference of the human body through time isn’t possible, or at least not without losing all knowledge of the form-book.
Which means that, not only did I waste the price of a pint of beer on my time-travelling friend, but that we may also have to re-examine other theories put forward by the eminent physicist – not least his warning that Artificial Intelligence could pose one of the greatest threats to the future of mankind.Continue reading →
While Stephen Hawking was obviously quite a clever chap, I’m sorry to reveal that some of his theories were deeply flawed.
Take, for example, the party that he threw for time travellers in 2009. Apparently the world renowned physicist hosted a lavish event, complete with Champagne and canapés, before sending out an invitation which read: “You are cordially invited to a reception for time travellers hosted by Professor Stephen Hawking, to be held in the past, at the University of Cambridge Gonville & Caius College, Trinity Street, Cambridge.”Continue reading →