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The Weekly Blog

Who Do You Think I Am?

At the end of a long raceday, having hosted a racemeeting during the afternoon, it’s satisfying to look back and think about the highlights.

Today at Kelso, there were many. It was one of the happiest crowds that I can remember in a long time – and why wouldn’t it be? The sun was shining (but not so much that any obstacles had to be avoided), the horses were of a lovely quality, and all seven races were won by the favourite (including one joint-favourite). Not only that, several young racegoers went home with a great collection of autographs.

It’s not the first time that I’ve been asked to sign a racecard – but it is the first time that I’ve actually signed my own name. On the first occasion I was mistaken for Andrew Balding and no amount of protesting would dissuade my pursuer that I wasn’t the Classic-winning racehorse trainer. I therefore did the only sensible thing and signed my name “Andrew”.

Learning from that experience, the next time I was approached, I asked what they would like me to write. “Wishing you the best of luck, from Richard Hoiles.” came the reply. So I signed the commentator’s name as I thought Richard might – with very precise, clearly enunciated letters. Measured, but also somehow bold and confident at the same time.

Andrew Balding?

On the third occasion, I knew immediately that the giggling pair of young female racegoers believed me to be someone else. “Who would you like me to be?” I asked. “Mike Cattermole.” Came the reply. Now, I know that I look nothing like the commentator and TV presenter Mike Cattermole, but I hate to disappoint – so, for one afternoon only, “Mike” is what I signed.

Today’s crowd of autograph hunters presented a different proposition altogether. Not only were they completely unaware of who I might be, quite frankly, they didn’t really care. Intoxicated by the high-octane fun of half-term horseracing, this bubbly batch of kids were just excited about collecting as many autographs as they possibly could. Scrawled across their racecards were the names of several high profile jockeys and trainers: Grand National winners Ryan Mania (who won the feature steeplechase aboard Empire Steel), Derek Fox and Lucinda Russell.

So I signed my name “Jonathan” in a suitably vague, haphazard, sort of way – such that one day in the future, one might be able to mistake it for someone more famous: like “S Quinlan” the jockey who rode Nab Wood to victory in the first race, and who’ll be riding Famous Bridge tomorrow (our selection in the Grand National Trial Handicap Chase at Haydock, 3.35pm, Saturday).

And below my unruly hand-writing, there was another name, written in the clear hand of today’s commentator, Mike Cattermole – the real one. What a great day!

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