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The Weekly Blog

Everyone’s Turf

Horseracing embraces allcomers and, to ensure that this message is communicated effectively, the industry’s PR wonks came up with a slogan: A day at the races is “Everyone’s Turf”.

The essence of the message is unarguably true – access to the races is not subject to interview. There is no admission examination, nor do we have stewards positioned at the entrance to deny access to anyone displaying a particular characteristic or who reveals a specific belief. It doesn’t matter whether you have an IQ of 1,001, or are as thick as the wooden frames at the base of our steeplechase fences. You’ll be welcome at the races.

While we don’t allow children aged 17 or under to attend the races unaccompanied, we do let them in for FREE – just as long as they are with a responsible adult. We don’t banish those that are pregnant, nor do we evict anyone that wears a cross around their neck, a pin in the shape of a rainbow or a T-shirt that bears a political slogan. As long as they’re not obviously drunk and disorderly, we welcome racegoers of every political persuasion, of any sexual preference, creed or ethnic origin.

There are solid legal reasons for not discriminating against people who display certain protected characteristics, and compelling commercial ones for generally extending a warm welcome to all people – even those with characteristics that are not protected but which we just don’t like very much: such as people who talk with their mouth full, fart in confined spaces, or cough into their hand before offering it to shake.

And there it is, right there, the issue that makes this blog so difficult to write every week: how to make it interesting without expressing an opinion that might offend some readers, including a proportion of the vast unknown internet-full of potential customers. If the blog is too bland, no one will ever read it; make it too opinionated and I risk alienating my friends.

Of course, anyone who knows me well also knows that I don’t actually have any friends. I’m a lot more disagreeable and full of bile than ever comes across in this weekly epistle. In order to maintain a congenial appearance, the only opinion ever asserted with complete confidence in the blog is the weekly selection – and even that is regularly ignored by the majority of readers. Saturday’s selection is Breizh River in the second division of the Novice Hurdle at Hexham.

Star Racecourse:
Punchestown.

So, I’ve come to a decision: over the course of the next few weeks, I’m going to risk sharing a lot more opinions. But rather than negative ones, like my views on people who eat coconut, I’ll be offering positive opinions on things that I’ve seen and places that I’ve been.

The first one is this: if you’ve never visited Punchestown Racecourse, which was the position I found myself in before Thursday, then book and go. It is truly the most friendly and welcoming racecourse you could ever wish to find outside of the Scottish Borders. Everyone there receives a great reception – almost as if it’s everyone’s turf.