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The Weekly Blog

Life is a Rollercoaster

Life is a rollercoaster, you’ve just gotta ride it – that’s not only the message from Boyzone, who’ll be playing live in the Course Enclosure after racing at Cartmel this evening, it’s also the key finding from a piece of research published this week from the University College of London.

Middle aged people who go racing, ride the funfair at Cartmel and dance when post-racing bands are on the stage, are half as likely to become frail by the time they reach their 70s. Or something like that…

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The Weekly Blog

Bookie Club

As we come to the end of Independent Bookies Week, it’s time to get behind a new campaign to encourage councils to exempt local bookmakers from paying business rates. The rationale for the campaign is that bookies are similar to pubs in that many act as a social hub; they’re a valuable part of many a community’s infrastructure.

No wait, hold on a second. That’s Independent Bookshop Week, not bookmakers. But, come to think of it, the same reasoning applies…

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The Weekly Blog

Galloping Ahead

I had a pony once, who would career forwards instead of standing still. He was a thrill to ride – great fun, although he didn’t win many rosettes in the Family Pony classes at the local shows. Only a pony called ‘Crackles’ would consistently finish in a worse position and that was because Crackles spent a lot of time standing on his hind-legs while his rider rolled around on the floor.

So when the racecourse-backed pool betting enterprise, known as britbet, agreed to a ‘stand-still arrangement’ with the existing Tote, I was reminded of my old pony and we decided to gallop ahead regardless!

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The Weekly Blog

The Weekend’s Biggest Race-Meeting

One of my favourite race-meetings of the year takes place this week on Friday and Saturday, but you won’t find details of the runners and riders in any national newspaper.

Between five and ten thousand people descend on Hawick Moor on each day of the meeting, making it the busiest track to stage racing in Britain this weekend. Hundreds of those in attendance will arrive on horseback – most will be paying teenagers to hold on to their horses throughout the afternoon, while the riders go and socialise in the bars, place bets and enjoy the races.

If you ever wanted to know what Newmarket was like in the 17th Century, when racegoers attended on horseback and cantered alongside the runners, this is about as close as you’ll ever get.

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The Weekly Blog

Dog Days

Every dog has its day. For Laika the mixed breed (mostly Siberian-husky) dog, rescued from the streets of Moscow, that meant ascending in a rocket to become the first animal to orbit the Earth on 3rd November, 1957.

Apparently the Soviet scientists responsible for the Sputnik 2 mission thought that Laika’s hard upbringing would help to prepare her for the cold temperatures and hunger that she would suffer whilst in space. I wonder what background the Police sniffer dogs, which attended Kelso Races on Sunday, endured before taking up a career searching for drugs. Had they progressed from pies and pasties? In which case any one of my own dogs has a chance of graduating in future years.

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The Weekly Blog

Window Shopping

Horseracing had a red-carpet moment, earlier this month, when the ITV Racing Team picked up a BAFTA for their coverage of the Grand National at Aintree.

While I bow to no one in my admiration for the achievements of the ITV production crew, I question whether they are really the best ‘shop window’ for the sport, as claimed by many commentators. That accolade surely belongs to Swan Shoes, on Bridge Street, winners of the annual Ladies Day Shop Window Competition at Kelso.

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The Weekly Blog

The Royal Wedding – Want a Bet?

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.

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Here is the Forecast…

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.

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The Honest Racecourse

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.

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Champions

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.

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