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.
Racing fans will be expected to be able to discern between the lies, damn lies and weather forecasts issued by racecourse marketeers when they use phrases like: ‘occasional sunshine’, ‘light precipitation’ and ‘heavy downward dew’. They’ll also be tested on regional descriptions of the weather such as ‘dreich’ in Scotland, ‘letty’ in the South-West and ‘plothering down’ in the Midlands.
Punters will be asked to divine the truth from a series quotes offered by leading trainers about their horses. Should we trust, for example, Charlie Mann when he tells us that his runner is “Absolutely useless – has no chance at all.” I know we shouldn’t laugh – but it’s rare that a trainer offers such a refreshingly frank comment before being proved so comprehensively wrong. Oregon Trail won at 12/1.
The draft test features a bundle of Racing Post articles, some lamenting the ability of northern trainers to compete with their southern counterparts, others hailing the recent victories of Scottish trained horses in Europe’s most valuable handicap races including the Grand National over fences and the Ebor on the flat. Which storyline represents fake news? Which is designed to inflate the ante-post prices of northern trained horses ahead of the Cheltenham Festival in March?
The multi-choice section of the paper poses the following questions about Kelso’s Burns Pudding Race Meeting today, in celebration of Burns Night: Who is the Great Chieftain o’ the Puddin Race? Is it:
a) Donald McCain. b) Lucinda Russell. c) Jimmy Moffatt.
Bonus points will be awarded to anyone who can say whether it’s normal for the jockeys to chase a haggis around the track at Kelso, whether or not the haggis is usually caught at the end of the race and whether the haggis really has a sonsie face.
Finally, sitters of the exam will be asked to make a coherent case for Singlefarmpayment, at 33/1, for Cheltenham’s Cotswold Chase on Saturday. Following last week’s winning selection, can you afford to dismiss the tip (or even the whole column) as fake news, should you challenge it as extremist propaganda – or respect the cultural differences that have led us to making Singlefarmpayment our selection for this weekend?