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Archive for October, 2014

I’ve enjoyed five contrasting visits to race meetings this month.  Firstly, a glorious summerlike day at Frankfurt races, with everyone in a very good crowd signing a petition to keep the course from being closed down; the authorities want to turn it into a football academy.  A quiet afternoon at Windsor, where in recent years I’ve only ever been on busy evening meetings.  This was a day dominated by rain; rain overnight and in the first half of the morning; the continual threat for the journey there and the first three races, followed by the threat turning into reality in the second half.   A dry, relatively mild afternoon for the last meeting of the season at Brighton, which in the past has suffered from fog, wind and rain.  A warm sunny day at Newmarket with a large crowd, lots of sideshows and a variety of musical attractions in bizarre competition; a classical trio on the strings, a Spanish senorita singing solo, and a thumping disco from inside a marquee, all within about thirty yards of each other.  Prior to that I had completed the clearout of dozens of surplus racing books by giving them to the local library either to sell or to add to their collection.

Yesterday it was Chepstow, for a good quality card full of promising horses that will be seen more and more as the National Hunt season gets going. There was a 33/1 shocker in the first race, but nevertheless there were people in two groups near where I was standing who clearly had bet on it.  One pair of ladies, who did not look like archetypal form students, were literally jumping for joy at being able to collect £200.  Later on in the day a chap in the Tote queue ahead of me, who had clearly avoided suffering from thirst, collected even more than that.  He may well have patronised the beer tent, which had an Oktoberfest theme, and though my bratwurst was rather more brat than wurst, the slightly over-the-top versions of German national costumes worn by the barmaids (and a very game barman) will live long in the memory.  The long drive back was made to feel very short thanks to the company of two chaps to whom I was introduced by a mutual friend.  So displeased were they by the onerous journey they had made to Chepstow via public transport, they were glad to forego a possible repetition for the homeward trip by getting a lift back to London.

With Uttoxeter on hold, the subject of the next book is already very much in mind, and I hope a decision will be made before too long.

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Postponed

Publication of the Uttoxeter book has been deferred until at least springtime.

The racecourse is short of staff who can do the necessary admin and marketing in order to achieve the planned launch date of 27 November. Also, there will be decisions to make affecting the cost of printing and as they are paying for it there needs to be someone at the course with the authority to incur expenditure.  There are still issues about some of the pictures I’d like to include, so we’ve taken the view that we’ll have to miss the Christmas book-buying market.  They have a lot of meetings in May, June and July and it would be nice to have it ready for sale by then.

Personally I rule out Midlands National day in mid-March because the race itself is much the dominating focus of that meeting, and the press would be full of Cheltenham stories. I favour a midweek day when there’s nothing much else going on.  The flip side to that is that there’d be fewer people at the races, but they’d be more likely to be proper racegoers.

There is also the distinct possibility that non-racing people living in and around Uttoxeter will be interested in a local history publication, so for them it wouldn’t matter which race meeting was the scene of its launch.

With the Christmas audience in mind, November 2015 is another option!

Approaching the climax of producing the book, instead of pressing on the accelerator I am waiting in a big queue with the handbrake on. There’s nothing I need to do for a while, apart from think about a visit to Uttoxeter to show my face and see friends there.  When the racecourse is ready to resume, I will be too.

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