Bring It On

I sometimes wonder what my postman must think as he delivers my mail. Hardly a day goes by when there is not at least one, often more, letters bearing the logos of various racecourses. Most of the time they are mailings from the marketing department with the latest promotions which may be new for the course, but for an old cynic on the mailing list of sixty racecourses is rarely anything new.

Then again I suppose there are only so many themed meetings to go around. Ladies Days used to be quite rare, no every course seems to have one and one, I note, actually has five of the blessed things in 2009.

Of course some Ladies Days are legendary, none more so than day two of the Aintree Festival, when the good (and bad) lasses of Liverpool and the surrounding area come out in their finest. Trust me their finest also leaves little to the imagination – whatever the reading on the mercury – and for a normal red blooded chap it makes concentrating on the racing very difficult indeed.

Anyway I digress. Luckily not all the mail from the racecourses is advertising blurb and I had more than a spring in my step the other week when there was a louder than usual clatter of mail and I was confronted with a padded envelope bearing a Cheltenham postmark.

It was my badge for the Festival. The one sign that the countdown to the four glorious days in March had finally begun.

The four days which all National Hunt fans wait for with bated breath.

Or so I thought!!!

Some conversations I have had recently, even with racing professionals, have suggested ……

(If you are of a nervous disposition dear reader my I suggest you sit down with a stiff drink before reading this next bit. Although make sure none of the stiff drink is in your mouth otherwise you may splutter it over your PC or laptop.)

… some have actually suggested it may not be all it cracked up to be and – wait for this – they don’t enjoy it.

OK yes the place gets crowded and you cannot get a drink without missing a race. You also need a supersize bladder to cope with the lavatorial queues. It can also  take a couple of hours to get out of the car parks after racing.

But so what?

What is it they say, no pain – no gain!!

But the racing is great – well I think it is but even then some digress. One respected sage said to me “each day is two decent races surrounded by dross.”

Dross – when your working life includes trips to the back and beyond, trips to all weather meetings on a wet Monday afternoon, how on earth can you call anything at Cheltenham dross.

Not only is it not dross, it is one the “fairest” meetings of the year. One of those meetings where you know there will be no schooling in public, one of those meetings where you know every single runner is there to try and win.

There are those who decry the fact the Festival is now spread over four instead of three days. I presume these are the same people who still wish The Derby was run on a Wednesday and that children were still sent out to work at five.

There are those who are criticising the new Martin Pipe Hurdle. If it is such a terribly bad idea why has it attracted over 200 entries? For connections whose runners do not make the Coral Cup it gives them a chance to still get a run at the festival and why not let the Conditional’s have their moment of glory as well?

For me the Festival is the best, most intense four days racing of the year.

As I write this there are 376 hours to the opening race – not that I am counting of course.

Bring it on!!


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