The wind of change blew through Kelso Racecourse on Wednesday. It was just a shame that it had to blow at speeds of up to 77mph.
On the day that One For Arthur, the 2017 Grand National winner, became the first horse to parade in the new Parade Ring and Winners Enclosure, a number of other ‘firsts’ were being recorded around the racecourse.
Each racecourse has its own unique character. One of the great pleasures of racing in Britain is exploring them all.
The late Alan Lee, racing correspondent of The Times, visited the Scottish Borders as part of his nationwide tour and described Kelso as “Britain’s friendliest racecourse”, an epithet that has stuck. Not, I suspect, because the staff at Britain’s other racecourses aren’t very friendly (almost without exception they are an exceedingly amiable bunch), but because the customers that frequent Kelso tend to be incredibly welcoming too.
According to thebananapolice.com website, 100 billion bananas are eaten every year. Most of them are of the Cavendish variety, which apparently has nothing to do with Lord Cavendish, Chairman of the Cartmel Steeplechase company, although I like to think there’s a connection there somewhere.
When viewed against the limitless dimensions of outer-space, it may seem as though the two Voyager space-craft drift serenely in space, barely moving at all – when in reality they are the fastest man-made objects in existence, travelling at nearly 39,000 mph as they speed away from Earth.
Just like the Voyager craft, it may seem as though nothing ever changes in the traditional sport of horseracing. Yet, in truth, the landscape shifts continually and racecourses have to change with it. Most of these changes are seamless, but every now and then something happens that is seismic…
Having discovered that the world record for eating M&Ms with chopsticks, while blindfolded, stands at just twenty of the multi-coloured sweets in one minute, I have commenced a period of intensive training.
The record sounds quite achievable and, fortunately, there is a training course next month which should help me to set a new record very soon. Entitled ‘Eat Like a Champion’, the evening with Dr George Wilson has been arranged by Racing Welfare and will take place at Hawick Rugby Club on Tuesday 18th September.
“Daddy, what do you think will be the next step in evolution?” This question asked as we pelt at 60 mph, on the school run, up the A68 about three months ago.
Fortunately the answer was directly in front of me, written across the windscreen in ten-thousand tiny, yellowy-red smudges. “The next step in the evolutionary path of insects,” I said confidently, “is that they will develop a sense of perspective which helps them to calculate the speed of oncoming vehicles, thereby enabling mutant insects to swerve and avoid the car. Most of the standard insects will be wiped out on the A68, the A7 and the A1, leaving those with the mutant gene to take over the World.”
On the hill behind our house, the ewes have been separated from their lambs and the noise is deafening. On one side of the road, the lambs are bleating BAA BAAAA! In a separate field, on the other side of the road, the ewes are echoing in a slightly deeper tone: BAERRE BAERRE!
In the process of stripping away tarmac surfaces, in order to make space for the new parade ring at Kelso Racecourse, we’ve discovered an old water well. At least five metres deep and half full of water, the well is constructed from small boulders and situated behind the listed Grandstand, built in 1822.