Blowing The Cobwebs Away

Well the first week of 2012 nears its conclusion and, compared with the last two years we have not done too badly at the hands of the weather Gods, with just two meetings ( Ayr – high winds and Chepstow – waterlogging) being lost.

The winds have been very strong this week and we are lucky more meetings have not been lost.

I was moaning about the cold wind at Huntingdon on Wednesday, it was a “lazy wind” in that it tended to go through rather than round you and no number of layers of clothing seemed to mitigate the wind chill.

If I was freezing cold with four layers, three of which were thermals, how cold must the jocks have been in just their silks? And I carry much more “natural insulation” than they do!!! It’s days like that you really appreciate how hard the jocks job is.

Anyway if I thought Wednesday was bad, it was like a balmy, breezy day compared with Lingfield on Thursday. Although no official inspection was called it must have been touch and go with the racing, as there were gale force winds blowing all afternoon, so strong that even I, at 14 stone, was almost blown over by one gust.

For those who do not know Lingfield it is on the approach path for Gatwick airport, being just 6 miles from the end of the runway. For saddos like me who happen to be aviation mad racing fans, it is a win-win location.  Although the undisputed king of courses for combining racing and plane spotting is Woodbine in Toronto, the pair being less than two miles away from one another but I am digressing.

The point of mentioning the proximity of the airport is to actually underline how strong the wind was, as even Boeing 747’s were swaying in the wind as they came into land.

How the jocks coped with that I do not know and as if the winds were not enough as the first two races started the heavens opened with heavy showers. Brave lads these jocks.

The bravery has been underlined by AP McCoy who after a crunching fall and a couple of days in hospital was talking about “being back in a few days” despite braking a couple of ribs. If that was you or I then it would be a case of milking it for as much sympathy as possible and a long spell on the easy list.

The New Year began with a great days racing at Cheltenham and a day for some old favourites to shine.

2009 Grand National winner Mon Mome looked to be back to his best when runner-up in the 3¼ mile chase, only to be trumped some 35 minutes later when the old rascal Calgary Bay also rolled back the years to take the Victor Chandler. Although the latter race was spoiled by the loss of the very promising Hidden Keel, a particularly devastating loss for trainer Charlie Longsdon as the horse was undoubtedly the stable star and looked to have a bright future.

Also a special mention in that race to commentator Richard Hoiles for very quickly picking up the fall of the favourite Havingotascoobydo, who managed to come down at the only fence on the entire course where fallers are often unsighted for the commentator.     

Finally on a non-racing matter, I was saddened to hear today of the passing of Bob Holness at the age of 83. Most renowned for the television series Blockbusters, of which he presented over 1,200 episodes. He was also an actor and a radio broadcaster.

Years ago when I worked at the BBC I was involved with Children In Need on Radio Two and I had the pleasure of meeting and working with Bob Holness and he was a lovely, delightful man with no ego, unlike many top broadcasters.

 It’s a cliché but he was a true gentlemen.  



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