Tinkering, Redevelopments and Diesel

Well I go away for a week and come home to find the powers that be have once again tinkered with the Grand National – this year’s grand plan involves shortening the race by around 90 yards to take the start away from the crowds and to shorten the run-in to the first fence.

Is this a radical move or another shuffling of the deckchairs as the ship sinks?

I suppose all will be revealed next April.

There is no change to the field size which, in my view, is a major issue. It would still be as spectacular a contest were the safety limit to be reduced to thirty.

I also note no changes have been made to make the runners respect the fences more, although I do welcome the decision to review the structure of the underlying structure of the fences. I think if people saw a “naked” National fence, before the spruce is added, they would be shocked.

Work is also going to be undertaken to ease the landing side of the fences – will this make the fences more inviting to jump and in the process increase the risk of falls.

Again it’s just my view, I think the fences should be higher so they are approached with more care and respect.

As I have previously written I have, in recent years, fallen out of love with the Grand National. Sod tradition but I think it is becoming a liability to the sport as a whole and I would happily see it sacrificed if it was for the betterment of the sport as a whole.

Others disagree with me and they are entitled to their view as I am to mine ….. time will tell as to which view turns out to be the right one.


It seems Newbury were unlucky with the cancellation of the Lionel Richie concert planned after racing yesterday, or should I call them “The Racecourse Newbury” as in a fantastic piece od spin they have announced a partnership with a building company to re-develop the site basically adding a couple of housing estates and a Hotel. Of course the announcement has been crafted by the spin doctors but it cannot disguise what is a crass decision.

One of the great “innovations” is moving some of the car parking to the centre of the course – how will that be accessed – by a tunnel then it may be OK, although there will be a pinch point. If not a tunnel then it will involve crossing the track which will a) potentially damage the track and b) restrict times when racegoers can arrive and leave the course.  When will courses learn that centre course parking does not work.

Also can you imagine the disruption there will be whilst all the construction work takes place?


Time for a non-racing rant now. I’ve just spent a week driving on the continent and one thing that struck me was the disparity in fuel prices between the UK and Europe. Before setting off I filled up the car with diesel and I paid 1.429 a litre at my local supermarket.

Whilst on the subject of fuel prices what is the point of the 0.7p or 0.9p that is added onto a price of a litre. If I bought one single litre of fuel would I be given 0.1p change?

Anyway in France, Belgium and The Netherlands the price of a litre of diesel was between the equivalent of between 1.09 and 1.17 a litre …. why the disparity in this country?

The other thing was just how good the motorway service areas were on the continent. The services visited in both Belgium and The Netherlands put ours to shame. They were spotlessly clean, including the toilets and the food prices were no different than in the local towns and the food was edible and they were relatively close together.

Whereas our service areas are "fast food” outlets and/or food I wouldn't feed to an animal, never mind eat myself, sold at an extortionate mark-up. Unfortunately motorway service areas are an occupational hazard for me, although I tend to use them only for "relief" stops as it were.

When I lived in The Netherlands the food in the service areas was so good people actually went out for dinner in the service area restaurants.

The only decent service area in the UK, in my experience, is Tebay on the M6 in Cumbria - it's still quite expensive but it does serve decent food.

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