A Year On

Well it is almost a year since I last went horse racing* and, at the time, I said I would review if I had any future with racing after a year has passed.

However, like a beloved pet who is in the final stages of their life it is better to humanely let it go rather than drag things on unnecessarily.

So I have reviewed, cogitated and digested and the very simple answer is I will not be returning to racing anytime in the near future.

The reality is I have not missed the sport at all - I have missed some of the great people I met whilst going racing. Some I am still in contact with and hope to remain so. One or two I have, sadly, lost contact with but I hope I will be able to catch up with them again in the future.

When I attended my final rules meeting at Fontwell many said I wouldn't last more than a couple of weeks without going racing - indeed the very same thought had crossed my mind. One of my racing buddies sent me a text almost every week saying "going to 'so and so' tomorrow?"

Would I get cold turkey?

Absolutely not - no withdrawal symptoms at all, indeed with the terrible wet weather last winter there was many a day when I though "I'm glad I'm not racing in this weather."

I did wonder how I would be come Cheltenham but that passed without any twangs of guilt, indeed I didn't even watch it on television.

I did almost end up working at Royal Ascot (non racing related) but that fell through.

I've barely watched any racing on television - I think I've watched a few "part" races and the only race I watched all the way through was, surprisingly, the Grand National.

I had planned to watch the Arc, my favourite flat race, last Sunday but actually forgot to turn it on and that probably sums it all up.

I've been keeping half an eye on the racing scene, mainly via the excellent Racing Forum web site, but frankly nothing has changed. The sport is still disorganised. The move to even more artificial surface racing moves relentlessly on and on with the re-opening of Great Leighs as Chelmsford City - you can change the name but will it be any better than its former incarnation. Then there is the planned desecration of Newcastle Racecourse and its conversion to artificial surface racing as well.

It hasn't all been bad news, Paul Bittar who promised so much but delivered so little, turning out to be the great appeaser, is on his way out.

This year has been a revelation in terms of how keen some people are about racing. I had kept the racecards from every meeting I have ever attended, bar three. With the exception of a couple of "sentimental" racecards I decided to sell them all this year and I could not believe how much money I made for them - it did help a lively bidding war developed for them on a certain well known online auction site. Similarly my collection of admission badges also raised a not insignificant sum.

I also kept half an eye on the racing through my dear father-in-law who loved to have a bet and I would put his bets on for him - sadly he passed away in July and that finally broke any final contact I had with the sport.

In a final move I staked the entire contents of all my bookmaker accounts on one final bet and, somewhat fittingly, it lost - had it won I would have bought a new car and had a holiday in memory of father-in-law as it lost it finally broke the link.  

When I gave up the racing I planned to spend more time relaxing, planning to play golf - I haven't touched my clubs once.

I planned to start up a new, non-racing, web-site but I'm still getting round to it (I'm still hoping it will be complete by the end of this year - but I'm not holding my breath).

Talking of web-sites I finally put www.ors-racing.co.uk out of its misery on 1st October, the site name and its content is now up for sale.

Will I ever go racing again - well as the saying goes - "never say never" - I undoubtedly will one day but it will be as a casual observer rather than an enthusiast and it's more likely to be something like the Arc meeting or Cartmel, two of the most beautiful settings for racecourses anywhere in the world.

So to all of you who have followed my rants, moans, hopefully some winners from paddockside a sincere thank-you.

For those I'm still in touch with please stay in touch. For those I've lost touch with (you know who you are) please get in touch.

To all of you may your bets be winners and may you continue to enjoy the sport you follow.

* I said I hadn't been racing for a year, well that wasn't quite true as I did attend a point-to-point meeting back in April, my first in 25 years and only my second ever.  

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