Archive for April, 2014

I’m glad to say I’ve completed the re-read of the first draft of Uttoxeter, and I’m about a third of the way through the next re-read. The last one was concerned with style, structure and readability; this one is devoted to checking facts, or what I think are facts! Sometimes I find myself wondering “how do I know that’s true?” There is at least one question I already have in mind to ask another racing historian for whom the subject is one of his specialisms.

Lingfield on Good Friday attracted so many people that they had to put up the “house full” signs. I was lucky to see the first race in time, by virtue of a decision to open up the members’ car park to the general public just before I reached the entrance in question. In reality there was room for more people, but the facilities were overstretched as it was. Long queues for the loos! Not helped by some temporary portable ones breaking down quite early in the afternoon. It was an interestingly mixed crowd – blokes there for the beer, families, couples, and some proper racing people. There was a good atmosphere and people were enjoying themselves.

Brighton on Thursday evening was excellent. They too had a good crowd, lured by the prospect of free entry, and we were rewarded by an unexpectedly glorious warm, sunny late afternoon. There was a nice outcome to the second race when Megalala, a thirteen-year-old, won by leading from the start and going well clear. The other jockeys gave him too much rope and they could never catch him. Starting at 10/1, not many people will have bet on him, but everyone was pleased at the result. Can he do it again though?

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Good Friday

I’ve made good progress on Uttoxeter in the last fortnight, with about two thirds of the long first draft re-read and spruced up. Four days off work for the Easter break, especially if it’s cold or wet, will give me a chance to maintain the momentum. Racing history is being made on Good Friday with the first ever race meeting on that hitherto-holy day at Musselburgh and Lingfield. The latter is staging a £1m racecard, easily a record for a British all-weather track. Courses with artifical surfaces have been going for 25 years now and are commonly associated with low class racing, and while that is valid the Good Friday card is a bold attempt to start changing that perception. That sort of thing can’t be achieved overnight, though. Will all-weather ever supersede turf racing? Possibly if the surfaces used ever become faster, safer or otherwise superior to grass. Will all-weather jumping return? It was stopped quickly when the statistics showed how much extra risk there was of serious injury to horses.

The embedded view we have of racing and indeed all equine activities is that it takes place on its traditional greensward. But with the accelerated rate of change in so many aspects of life, who’s to say that will last forever? I believe the racing historian writing in the late 21st century of the first hundred years of all-weather racing will have plenty to talk about.

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