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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 accidentally left leaning on the second fence during the first circuit of the steeplechase won by As De Mee in October. It was a horribly 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. 

And I have to tell you, it wasn’t much fun. The BHA offices were besieged by the media – journalists were ushered into a room somewhere down the corridor and cameramen waited outside the main entrance on the pavement. In a not-so-important, ego-deflating, blow it turned out that they were not there to hear about Kelso; they were assembled to discover what punishment would be handed to Hayley Turner, another on Santa’s naughty list, who had retired from race riding and opened a betting account – forgetting that riding in invitational races could place her in contravention of the rules of racing.

If there was a positive side to the story, it was that Hayley had made a very small profit from her selections – something that she has in common with these blogs over the years. Yes, I know. I did say very small…

Making it onto Santa’s ‘nice’ list this week was the team at Musselburgh Racecourse, although you might not have believed it from the twitter-storm of impatience ahead of racing on Monday. Having volunteered to stage a new fixture at short notice, making up for recent abandonments in the North, temperatures at Musselburgh plunged at day-break on Monday morning forcing four track-inspections before racing was finally allowed to take place. The staging of replacement fixtures takes a tremendous amount of effort at the best of times and the financial rewards are negligible, making Musselburgh’s commitment all the more commendable.  

I’m hoping that the Musselburgh Joint Racing Committee will open their stockings on Christmas morning and discover an acceptable structure for governance. The BHA has recently issued the track with another licence to operate racing for a limited period of just three months. It is about time that everyone in authority at East Lothian Council appreciated what a fantastic asset they have – not just in terms of the facilities at Musselburgh Racecourse, but more especially the staff that work there. 

As for my own Christmas stocking, if Santa’s elves haven’t read about the BHA’s proceedings, I’m hoping that I’ll receive the usual: an apple, an orange, a walnut, a five-pence piece, a bottle of malt whisky, a betting slip bearing the name Might Bite (the selection for Kempton’s King George VI Chase on Boxing Day), a decent weather forecast for Kelso’s Festive Fling Race-day on 29th December and some new garden forks with bright orange handles.

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