Father Christmas knows who’s naughty and who’s nice. Fortunately, when he attends the Festive Family Raceday at Kelso Racecourse on Sunday he won’t need to waste any time referring to his list – because we only let nice people in.
In a bid to promote inclusivity and diversity, we do actually let a few naughty people in too – but only if they are both naughty and nice, a category which applies to some of the racecourse’s directors, many of the annual members and probably all of the jockeys.
We are being encouraged by the BHA, the sport’s governing body, to promote a welcoming atmosphere that is devoid of any prejudice based on sexuality or ethnicity. But, rest assured, we won’t actually be asking anyone about their private lives when they arrive at the racecourse, nor would we make any judgements based on skin colour (assuming of course that we can see any exposed flesh beneath all the hats, scarves, gloves and long coats).
I should point out, however, that we do deliberately try to screen out boring people – you know, the ones who take up space in front of the fireplace while saying that they really prefer Flat racing to Jump racing because it’s more predictable. Or the ones who say that Father Christmas doesn’t really exist and that the person occupying Santa’s grotto in the Festive Family marquee is merely an actor with a false beard. Because horseracing is primarily a sport for people with zest and imagination. If you don’t dream, you risk missing out.
I think Kris Kringle captured it best in his conversation with the little girl, called Susan, in Miracle on 34th Street:
-“Do you know what the imagination is, Susan?”
-The girl nods sagely. “That’s when you see things that aren’t really there.”
-“Well, not exactly,” says Kris with a smile. “No. To me the imagination is a place all by itself. A very wonderful country. You’ve heard of the British Nation and the French Nation?”
-“Well, this is the Imagination. And once you get there, you can do almost anything you want.”
Kelso Racecourse is very similar. Once you get here on Sunday, as long as you are well intentioned, you can do almost anything you want: have a glass of mulled wine, visit Santa’s grotto, have your face painted or even mix it with the royal family by putting your hard-earned cash on a horse owned by Her Majesty the Queen (No Trumps, 3.15pm). There’s entertainment for all ages and everyone is welcome.
Sometimes the magic won’t happen unless you truly believe. Which is why, this weekend, I’m putting my faith in Ruth Jefferson who not only trains this week’s selection – Waiting Patiently in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown – but also a brace of exciting prospects at Kelso in the shape of Temple Man (1.45pm) and Blossoming Forth (2.45pm).
Put a pound accumulator on all three and fill your stockings!