Archive for September, 2012

St Leger Day

Domestic non-racing affairs mean not much work has been done on Uttoxeter, and I have no news yet on the other chap’s projected book on the subject or the Virgin Mary slide.

I received an unexpectedly large order from a wholesaler, at just the time when I was running short of Bath books.  Indeed I’ve only been able to partly fulfil the order, and ask Bath to send the rest direct.  I’m not going to be able to collect fresh supplies from them until next month.

One of my contacts asked me to do some statistical analysis of certain Saturdays’ racing programmes, and this emphasised to me how much the move to shift more big races there has been.  Midweek festivals are extended or shifted to include Saturdays.  Often this means big, decent-quality fields contesting valuable but impossible handicaps.  I’m not sure five fifteen-runner handicaps out of seven races are an attractive programme for a proper racing enthusiast.  Bookies won’t mind mug punters betting on that type of race all day long.  I suspect smaller courses with Saturday fixtures within range of a big course with a meeting also suffer. 

 The biggest meeting yesterday was at Doncaster, where I and 32,000 hoped to see the Camelot win the St Leger and achieve the Triple Crown of three flat race classic successes for the first time in 42 years.  He never looked like winning.  The aftermath was a great deal of earnest debate about whether he lacked stamina, suffered from a slow pace (so that his stamina wasn’t tested), or did the jockey get it wrong, was the horse simply not good enough, or was he below par?  Horses can’t tell us if they’re feeling a bit under the weather.

Leger Day weather was splendid and so were the efforts of the female racegoers, who without exception dressed up to the nines and put on a fine show.  I must commend all racegoers and racecourse staff for their friendliness.  Stranger spoke to stranger in a way that most Londoners find uncomfortable on their home territory.  Despite quantities of alcohol being dispatched, I saw nobody make a fool of themselves.  At least, not before we left the course at six o’clock on a jolly bus going back to the station, where we were soon whisked back to our sombre southern homes.  Meanwhile the bar staff of south Yorkshire were gearing up for a busy night…

Read Full Post »

I’ve finished writing up my notes of meetings with Uttoxeter people and I’m halfway through reviewing the big cardboard box of press cuttings.  It turns out that a small number of years have a great deal of coverage, for some periods very comprehensive indeed.  I know which periods are covered in some of the individual scrapbooks – and these are scrapbooks in the old-fashioned sense of the word – thanks to the dates being written on the front.  Other assorted plasic wallets, cardboard folders and lever arches deal almost wholly with 1993-95 so far, and repetitively.  However, I cannot be sure there won’t be a gem on the next page I turn over. 

Typing the most relevant titbits of information onto the computer, I am apt to be distracted by connected or tangential thoughts.  These compel me to google something, or to read the news item from twenty years ago in full.  That’s why going through a folder with loose papers about an inch thick has taken me an hour and a half and I’m less than halfway through it.

One cutting I was surprised to find came from a local paper in 1996.  It was an appeal for information from someone writing a book about the racecourse.  Nothing appears to have come of it.  I have to write to this man to find out how far he got, and why he stopped.  I hope he doesn’t say there was nothing interesting to say!  That was my fear before doing Fontwell and Bath, but I seemed to make something of their histories.

An oddity from the big box is a set of slides from 1996 for a business-meeting type of presentation, but one of the slides has a brightly-coloured image of a female saint or the Virgin Mary, with two swans next to her and a village with a church steeple in the background.  Tiny wording underneath is too small to read.  I am looking for someone with a slide projector in order to inspect a larger image.  This maybe nothing to do with Uttoxeter racecourse; I simply want to know more.

Which brings me on to one of this blog’s followers, who made himself known to me the other day.  Seeing as he works for the same organisation as me I’ll have to be extra polite about anything about work that creeps in to this.  It occurs to me that one branch of his department might have the sort of projector I’m looking for.

Read Full Post »