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 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.
Having more or less succeeded in giving up alcohol in previous years, and completely failing to give up coffee, avoiding the Spice Girls seemed to be a pretty safe bet. I never rated their music much during the 1990s and little has happened since to alter my view. But now, having listened to news-items about the big re-group, I’ve found the radio sound bites annoyingly catchy and I’m in the midst of a 90s revival…
So I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want (and according to Belinda Carlisle, we want the same thing, we dream the same dream): I wanna turn the clock back to the days when dairy farmers could train winners at the Cheltenham Festival – just like Syrrel Gryffiths, successful with 100/1 shot Norton’s Coin in the 1990 Gold Cup. And the days when good old-fashioned trainers, with good old-fashioned chasers, won the championship races for the North – like Jodami in 1993 (the last Gold Cup winner to have been ridden in his formative years by my favourite Clerk of the Course).
It wasn’t just the racing which was great in the 1990s. Girls had crimped hair – a bit like crinkle cut crisps, a look which is sadly out of favour nowadays. And then there was the invention of heat-responsive T-shirts; I haven’t seen many of those recently either.
The 90s were a particularly rich decade for Winter Olympics too, not least because a decision was made to alter the four-yearly cycle so that they didn’t coincide with the Summer Olympics – which meant that we had Winter Games in both 1992 (when Midori Ito became the first woman to land a triple axel in an Olympic ice skating competition) and 1994 (when Canada were defeated by Sweden following a dramatic penalty shoot-out for the ice hockey final). Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten those seminal moments in Olympic history?
You see, while I’d never considered myself a fan, the Winter Olympics are just too irresistibly compelling to ignore. Together with that Spice Girls’ tune, which is firmly lodged in my head, I just can’t give it all up. I could try to stop backing losers I suppose, but that’s much more difficult than you might think. This week I’m taking a chance with Moon Racer, at 25/1, in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury.
Meanwhile, the members at Kelso’s Border Ice Rink are excitedly anticipating the Curling action from PyeongChang. Did you see the controversy, on the first day, when two of the players touched one of the stones in the curling match between China and Switzerland?
I’m going to sit down with my pancakes, sugar and lemon and I’m gonna watch it all… Really wanna zigazag ah!