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The Weekly Blog

Welcome Yin and A’

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.

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The Weekly Blog

The Aintree Dream

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.

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The Weekly Blog

Midsomer Racing

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.

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The Weekly Blog

Keep the Faith

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.

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The Weekly Blog

Not So Smart

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.

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The Weekly Blog

Back to the Future

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.”

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The Weekly Blog

Waiting Patiently

Good things come to those who wait. Which is why you’ll find the customary selection, a 33/1 dead-cert, at the very end of this week’s blog.

Patience should also be rewarded for all the people who were frustrated following the postponement of last weekend’s major events. And that’s not just Kelso’s Totepool Premier Hurdle Day, which has been rescheduled from last Saturday to Sunday 11th March… There was much rejoicing when it was announced that BOG Potato Day had also been saved, although that too has been scheduled for Sunday afternoon, on the other side of the town.

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The Lion, the Witch and Musselburgh Racecourse

I’m not sure that it is a coincidence. Much of Britain has been plunged into a Narnia-like perpetual Winter following a closed meeting, on Tuesday, at which East Lothian Council unilaterally decided to replace the Musselburgh Joint Racing Committee with a new structure, which effectively puts the racecourse under direct council control.

The racecourse staff were notified that they would become council employees and, almost immediately, Scotland was brought to a standstill by cold winds, ice and snow.

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The Weekly Blog

The Word on the Street

Now don’t get concerned, I’m not so down on my luck that I’ve descended to the street, but during a trip to London this week, I was flattered to be offered a swig of whisky by a member of the homeless community.

Waiting patiently on the pavement outside a bank, near the Jockey Club’s offices at High Holborn, I was standing under a bus shelter at a discreet distance from the ATM which was being used by another customer. Huddled in the corner of the bus shelter, the homeless man gave me a glassy stare and said “If you don’t mind me saying, you don’t look as though you’re from around here.”

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The Tale of Peter Rabbit and the Irish Racing TV Rights

There was much muttering amongst the radishes at Hill Top Farm this week, when the new Peter Rabbit film sparked criticism for a scene which allegedly depicted food allergy bullying.

Hill Top, at Near Sawrey in the Lake District, is the National Trust owned former home of Beatrix Potter, whose books about Peter and the Flopsy Bunnies have inspired a movie which is due for UK release on 16th March – creating a conundrum of fiendish complication. Should I go to watch Peter Rabbit or the Gold Cup at Cheltenham? Hmm, difficult decision.

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