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Posts by Jonathan

The Weekly Blog

Jumping Like Bunnies

Despite owning a pair of silk pyjamas, I have never allowed anyone to photograph me wearing them – which is probably one of the main differences between Hugh Hefner and me. Hefner, the 91 year old founder of Playboy Magazine, died last week, prompting speculation that he’s unlikely to have found himself in a better place than the one he left behind on earth.

There are plenty of people who believe that Hefner will have been cast directly into the violent winds of the second circle of hell where, according to Dante, the lustful are blown back and forth for eternity – unable to enjoy peace or rest. For company he is likely to find Cleopatra and Helen of Troy, who had better watch out in case they end up wearing a pair of bunny ears and a white fluffy tail.

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The Weekly Blog

Throwing the Rule Book

If your name is Willie Mullins, or you backed On His Own in the 2014 Cheltenham Gold Cup, I suspect I know how you might respond to the British Horseracing Authority’s recent consultation document.

Having acknowledged that Lord Windermere had unintentionally interfered with On His Own before winning by a short-head, the Cheltenham stewards decided that the result should remain unaltered – prompting Mullins to remark, “I don’t see any need for stewards at this rate of going. There is absolutely no need for them.”

If you’re one of those people that believe that all umpires are unwise, all referees are rubbish and all stewards are sh…ambolic, then now is the time to wreak your revenge. But should you?

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The Weekly Blog

A Royal Parade

Not many people can claim to have ridden one of the Queen’s horses into the Winners Enclosure at Kelso, but I can…

Bred by Her Majesty the Queen with a view to winning the Derby, Special Agent grew far too tall to become an early maturing Classic winner. Instead he enjoyed a career over jumps with Nicky Henderson. If you examine the horse’s form, you won’t actually find my name among those listed as having partnered him in a race, nor will you be able to trace his race record at Kelso – but why ruin a good story by introducing the facts.

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The Weekly Blog

Flocking to the Races

Records tumbled at Kelso Ram Sales last week: the largest number of Toyota Hilux ever collected in one place, the most Ifor Williams trailers, not to mention the biggest variation of Land Rovers. Utility vehicles stretched across the land as far as the eye could see; apparently they sold quite a few sheep too.

Despite the cancellation of a prestigious sheep-racing event this Summer in the town of Moffat, the sport is clearly thriving – with popular venues as far afield as South Yorkshire and Devon (without leaving the first google-search page on the subject) staging regular meetings. Why else would there be so much interest in the sale of 4,500 rams? The sheep carry knitted jockeys in bright colours and are rewarded with a bucket of the finest sheep-nuts at the finish, while punters presumably urge on their selections by yelling something appropriate like ‘chop-chop’.

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The Weekly Blog

The Longest Job Application Process Ever

I first wrote to Richard Landale in 1991. A recent graduate with a degree in agriculture, I was seeking an opportunity to work within the racing industry. I wrote to the managers of all fifty-nine racecourses and received letters back from approximately half, most of them very polite expressions of disinterest.

Richard was an exception. Together with Norman Gundill, who interviewed me whilst pacing at break-neck speed around the track at Pontefract, Richard offered a glimmer of hope. Having doused any expectation in relation to pay, by explaining that Kelso Racecourse was run on a shoe-string, he proceeded to offer the opportunity of some race-day work experience. I might even have taken him up if I hadn’t been based in Kent at the time.

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The Weekly Blog

Crossing Borders

When a batsman hits the ball clean over the boundary, he scores six runs. No one’s required to run for the ball, but it usually comes back eventually. And it’s not just cricket pitches that have boundaries, most modern parenting groups advise that toddlers should have them too. When a toddler crosses a boundary, he or she is likely to end up on the naughty step.

 Borders are usually considered to be the same as boundaries, defining regions into countries, counties or parishes. But borders differ in one important respect: they are designed to be crossed. Notwithstanding the current negotiations over Brexit, it is generally expected that governments and businesses will join together in order to promote trade across borders. And of course we welcome visitors too – tourists, investors and migrants offering valued skills and knowledge.

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