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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 Weekly Blog

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 Weekly Blog

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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The Weekly Blog

Don’t Wanna Give It Up…

If you haven’t yet been out to buy your lemons, here’s a timely reminder that Shrove Tuesday falls next week. Pancake Day is the day before Ash Wednesday – the first day of Lent, when many Christians undertake a period of fasting and abstinence in preparation for Easter.

It would clearly be a poor time to give up going horseracing, given that Kelso’s Morebattle Hurdle takes place on the following day, Thursday 15th February, and the Cheltenham Festival falls midway through the Lenten period on 13th – 16th March. I’d therefore just about made up my mind to abstain from watching winter sports and listening to the Spice Girls – but all that seems to have gone out of the window.

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The Weekly Blog

The Tallest Mountain

When I read that Michael O’Leary had called for a Ryanair-style hurdle race at the Cheltenham Festival, I thought perhaps he was proposing a race where half the horses couldn’t run because there weren’t enough pilots.

But it turned out that I’d got the wrong end of the stick. It was much, much, worse.

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The Weekly Blog

Have Ye a Sonsie Face?

A cross-border disparity could arise between students in England and Scotland following the announcement that English pupils will not participate in a new international test designed to assess respect for other cultures, challenge extremism and help to identify fake news.

The tests have been devised as part of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) to measure tolerance, cultural awareness and how well teenagers can distinguish between reliable sources of information and fake news. Rumour has it that, in order to minimise the impact on horseracing, the British Horseracing Education and Standards Trust (BHEST) is developing a test of its own, to ensure that racegoers are equipped to handle differences in culture as they explore the varied delights presented by racecourses throughout the British Isles.

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The Weekly Blog

One of Your Five-a-Day

In horseracing, ups can occasionally be followed by additional ups, but are more commonly followed by downs. It was therefore almost inevitable that Sunday’s scintillating sport at Kelso, packed full of air-punchingly close finishes, would be followed by a gloomy and depressing Monday.

In fact this Monday was so gloomy that it even had a depressing name: Blue Monday. It’s something to do with the quotient of gloominess, calculated by adding together all the good things in life and then dividing them by the multiple of all the rubbish things about January – like being in debt, having used all your holiday and polished off all the remaining chocolate and alcohol that was so plentiful at Christmas.

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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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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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