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Archive for April, 2016

Six weeks to go before the launch. I am still waiting for the copyright to a couple of pictures to be paid for by the racecourse, so that the electronic images can be sent to me; I also need them to provide some colour pictures of their own, and to say if they are happy with some revised wording I’ve composed for the last chapter.

While anxiously awaiting a response on these matters I sent the provisional text and all the pictures I have to the printers. With them they can make a start on formatting the book.  Any changes to the text should only be near the end and will therefore cause relatively little disturbance.  All the colour pictures will be going into a single block of pages, so that is a self-contained issue that shouldn’t disrupt the preparation of the rest of the book.

Normally I manage one trip each year to a foreign racecourse, and last week I went to Enghien, in the northern suburbs of Paris. Betting is all done via the pari-mutuel (PMU), the French equivalent of the Tote, and I was surprised to see very few windows for taking bets.  That was because machines had replaced them and punters were placing their bets using them.  I didn’t see them paying out anyone! I had a winner and the machine churned out a glorifed credit note, which I cashed in at one of the few PMU windows with a human in attendance.  I foresee the appearance of Tote betting machines in this country in the next few years.

Next week I will be going to Newmarket, not only for some racing but also to see a couple I met via my Bath research. I hope that they will be able to give me some information that will help me with one of the topics I have in mind for research in the post-Windsor era.

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The main development since last time was getting Windsor’s agreement to one of the options I put forward regarding the purchase of images. That meant a day of emails and phone calls trying to knock down some of their prices in order to stay within the budget set for me.  Mission accomplished, and the next task is to make sure the racecourse pays for those images so that they can be released to me; then I can put them in the package to be sent to the printer with instructions of where they go in the book.  Those instructions are nearly finished.  The index is done, and will only now need updating when pdfs are swapped by me and the printer.

The text has been proof-read by my wife and I’ve made some changes as a result of that. I haven’t read it through myself for a few weeks and I hope to do that before sending everything to the printer.

Windsor’s first meeting of the season is tomorrow afternoon and they are holding a special dinner after racing to kick-start their 150th anniversary celebrations.  Their next meeting, on the evening of Monday 18th, is free to enter.  Given good weather they could expect the best part of 10,000 people to attend judging by what happened when free entry was offered before.

My thoughts are beginning to turn more and more towards life after Windsor and the research I might do then. There will also be time then to do justice to three major new racing books that I possess, but am saving up to read when I’m not distracted by Windsor business.  The Heath and the Horse is a comprehensive history of racing at Newmarket with many fine examples of sporting art; Beckhampton, the story of famous racing stables, and Aintree: The History of the Racecourse.  These are works by proper racing historians whose standards I can admire but can hardly hope to match.

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