Archive for the ‘Doncaster’ Category

Two weeks ago I’d got to the beginning of WW2 with Salisbury, and since then I’ve only moved on to 1942.  Quite a bit was happening then, but that’s also true of things at home.  I have collected an archive of non-racing paraphernalia, contained in about 12 boxes and baskets, and I’ve had to catalogue it to see what should be kept, destroyed, or given to someone else.  The decisions are not solely mine, so that slows things up.  That’s a contrast with racing archives research, where I am the only arbiter of what I look at or ignore.

The diary is fairly clear in the next ten days and I should be able to progress into Salisbury’s peacetime.  Holiday weekends are good for book work.  Traffic and bad weather are good reasons not to go far at Easter.  Come to think of it, traffic and good weather would be even better reasons to stay in and get on with it.

Last time I advised watching out for David Pipe’s runners in the Midlands Grand National, but he had none.  Perhaps he knew how awful the weather would be there.  From the comfort of my armchair I’d describe it as “intermittent sleet blizzards”.  The management did jolly well to get the meeting on and keep it going.  I expect the crowd was a bit down, but as they had virtually sold out in advance I don’t suppose too much damage was done financially.

The 2018 turf flat season began yesterday with the Lincoln Handicap as usual.  Nobody makes any play of the fact that the Brocklesby Stakes, traditionally the first two-year-old race, goes back just as far as the Lincoln.  Both races began in 1849, although the Brocklesby was then a handicap over a mile and a half.  Mind you, the Lincoln started off over two miles.  It came down to its present distance of one mile in 1855.  It wasn’t until the closure of Lincoln racecourse that these races moved to Doncaster to kick off the 1965 season.

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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…

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