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The Weekly Blog

Remind Me Again…

There’s a reason why 43 bottles of Scotch Whisky are exported, to countries all around the World, every second. Quite apart from the fact that it’s a captivating and delicious reflection of the beautiful Scottish landscape: it purifies the mind so that we forget stuff. And life is so much richer when we forget.

Take Thursday, for example, when Sherri (the racecourse’s marketing guru) was attending the racecourse office all day. I forgot and went out for a long lunch… that was marvelous!

Then there’s the weather. We keep an emergency bottle of whisky in the office, right next to the teabags and the coffee, for consumption in foul weather. Add a decent splash to any hot beverage and it’s easy to forget just how wet it was last week or, for that matter, throughout the whole of the last month. By the time we race at Kelso next Monday, last weekend’s abandonment will be a distant memory: all we’ll remember in a year’s time will be the races that we’ve managed to reschedule – because the names of the winners will be writ large in the form book.

If I had a nip of whisky for every time someone told me that they “…can’t remember a Winter like this one”, I probably wouldn’t be able to stand up. But their memories are faulty, because my mobile phone keeps flashing-up pictures from previous years – seasons during which the track was waterlogged in precisely the same week, or drought affected, or snowbound, or in one case both of the latter.

It’s not only painful things, like foul weather, that are pleasurable to forget. This week, many people have been saying to me: “I can’t remember ever seeing such an exciting line-up for the Grand National.”

And isn’t that lovely! They’ve clearly forgotten virtually every other Grand National that has been run. From Red Rum and L’Esgargot, through Mr Frisk (a track record holder) to Party Politics, Earth Summit and One For Arthur – every renewal of the Grand National features an exciting line-up and a great story about the eventual winner. And then every year we have a drink or two afterwards, forget just how exciting it was, and thereby rejuvenate our palate – all the better for appreciating the race twelve months on…

Having said that (and now I’m just as guilty as everyone else), I can’t remember a Grand National that featured such a high-quality field. Included among the thirty-four going to post on Saturday are two previous Grand National winners (Corach Rambler and Noble Yeats), a Gold Cup winner (Minella Indo), six previous Gold Cup runners, the winners of the Welsh, Scottish and Irish Nationals, plus numerous other Grade 1 performers.

Mahler Mission should run well, and Galvin (a previous Cheltenham Festival winner who was unlucky, perhaps, to have been unseated at the first fence in last year’s Grand National).

However, I’m looking forward to watching the race on the television at home, a wee dram in hand, and being reminded just how pleasurable it is to watch Lucinda Russell, Derek Fox and Corach Rambler (those other great Scottish exports) win the World’s greatest steeplechase.