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The Weekly Blog

Posh Bets and Optimism for 2018

Anthea Morshead, Clerk of the Course at Kelso and Cartmel, has just returned from Australia where she reported that three race-days had been abandoned during her stay, as a result of too much sunshine and hard ground. Which strikes me as a considerably higher-class problem than losing race-meetings as a result of too much frost and hard ground.

But I’m not envious. The days are already becoming appreciably longer and our optimism has soared in tandem with the Vitamin D that is now coursing through our veins.

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The Weekly Blog

Objection! Objection!

Competition being fierce at Christmas, I was forced during a family game of trivia, to lodge an objection to the winner. Since when has vanilla been Britain’s favourite flavour of ice-cream?

The biggest selling flavour maybe… by dint of the fact that vanilla is the blandest and least likely to cause offence. But favourite? No way! A true poll would surely have demonstrated that chocolate is the most popular flavour with the wider public, while the more discerning among us would probably opt for mint-choc-chip. But that wasn’t the answer on the card, so my objection was thrown out by the Stewards who have been tremendously busy over the Christmas holidays.

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The Weekly Blog

What the Romans Didn’t Do For Us

The abandonment of racing at Kelso this week means that we’ll never know the result of the fourth race on the programme, The ‘Blessed Are The Cheesemakers’ Handicap Steeplechase. The title, taken from Monty Python’s Life of Brian, prompts the inevitable question: What did the Romans ever do for us?

Whatever you think the answer might be, they didn’t install an underground-heating system at Kelso Racecourse – as evidenced by the loss of Friday’s festive fixture due to frost. But they could have done…

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The Weekly Blog

Face as Red as Santa’s Trousers

I’d like to thank the correspondent that e-mailed, following my appearance at a BHA disciplinary hearing last week, offering the Kelso fence attendants some brand new high-vis fork covers for Christmas.

The team here were left with faces as red as Santa’s trousers when a fork, used for repairing the track between races, was accidently left leaning in front of the second fence during the first circuit of the steeplechase won by As De Mee in October. It was an awkward moment and we were all relieved that there were no serious consequences – that is, if you don’t count appearing before the BHA’s disciplinary committee as being serious.

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The Weekly Blog

The Best Racecourse in the South

North, South, East or West. We, like to think that the points of the compass are definitive, placing us in a distinct location. But it’s all relative – Kelso is south of Musselburgh, Cartmel is north of York and Ayr is west of Newton Abbot.

Comparisons between racecourses are relative too – so any racecourse which offers National Hunt racing is generally better than one that offers only Flat racing (obviously). A racecourse which offers Champagne at a reasonable price, is better than one that operates at a multiple of three-times the ordinary retail value. And a track which has a sweetie stand selling red liquorice is much better than one that has no sweetie stand at all.

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The Weekly Blog

Winter Sports

I may occasionally have worried about the rain, but I never suffered from Chionophobia whilst managing race-meetings at Cartmel .

A rare condition, more prevalent among Clerks and Managers of winter jumps tracks, Chionophobia is the fear of snow – usually the prospect of getting buried beneath it, although the term can also be stretched to include the fear of racecourses getting blanketed in the white stuff.

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The Weekly Blog

The Jumper for Jumpers

A spokesman for the British horseracing industry has condemned President Trump for re-tweeting messages bearing hateful narratives along the lines of: “I hate Christmas jumpers, they’re always so colourful, a hate anything which isn’t white.” Or something like that – I may have just made it all up.

Even so, I’m guessing that the totally Fake News, that Donald Trump is opposed to the display of loud wool-wear, is already prompting you to consider going out to buy a Christmas Jumper of your own – or maybe dozens of Christmas Jumpers to give to all your friends and family. I hope so, because The Racing Post has just launched its fourth range of charity jumpers, sales of which will benefit Racing Welfare.

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The Weekly Blog

The Purple & Green Friday Sale

R-r-r-r-roll up, Roll up! Get ready for the great Black Friday sale…

The very best offers available to racegoers are on sale now! Annual membership at Kelso and Cartmel costs just £140 at each racecourse. At Kelso that equates to just £9.33 for Club Enclosure admission at each of the 15 race-days. At Cartmel it works out at £15.55 per day in the Paddock Enclosure on each of the nine days – although members can also save £6 per day on car parking in the picnic areas, subject to space being available at whichever time you choose to arrive.

Both racecourses offer dozens of reciprocal days too: race-days at racecourses throughout Britain that have been designated as free days out for members of either Kelso or Cartmel. If you attend all 47 of Cartmel’s reciprocal days, each day of racing could cost as little as £2.50 – and it would be even less for Kelso members where the list of reciprocal events runs to 67.

You’ll have guessed, perhaps, that these offers aren’t only available on Black Friday; they’ll also be available on Blue Monday, Red Tuesday, Purple Wednesday and Orange Thursday.

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The Weekly Blog

Fake or Fortune

It’s been a big week for images of Christ. First came a series of objections to the most recent advertising campaign for Greggs, which featured a traditional nativity scene in which the infant Jesus was replaced by a sausage roll.

Then came the sale of a painting depicting The Saviour of the World, which had apparently been split in half, eaten by worms and scrubbed with a scouring pad, but which might just have been painted by Leonardo da Vinci. In case you haven’t heard, it made the equivalent of £341 million in a New York auction.

But in a world full of fake news, how certain can we be that the da Vinci painting is genuine, that this blog isn’t merely Russian-sponsored-Brexit-inspiring-disinformation, or even whether the sausage roll that I devoured this morning was made of pork?

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The Weekly Blog

News from Paradise

Be honest. On a scale of one-to-ten, how surprised were you when Panorama revealed that Prince Charles, a passionate environmental campaigner, allowed the Duchy of Cornwall to invest in a company called Sustainable Forestry Management Ltd?

Wouldn’t it have made a far more interesting story if the Paradise Papers had revealed that the Duchy was putting its wealth behind fracking and the increased exploitation of fossil fuels? While it might have been wise to declare his interest before dipping his oar into the pool of carbon trading initiatives, I’m struggling to spot any inconsistency in the Prince’s behaviour – he’s running strictly according to form.

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