Saturday, April 19, 2014

Good Friday

Great excitement: yesterday saw the Good Friday jamboree, primarily at Lingfield but also at Musselburgh.  It's a great thing to have a very valuable end-of-winter AW finale; even if, of course, it makes no sense to have it after the Craven Meeting. It should be on Winter Derby day (ie the last Saturday of the winter season, ie the final Saturday before the first Saturday, Lincoln Day, of the new turf season) and, in fact, there is such a day on Winter Derby Day, as the day's title implies.  Only now we've got two; and the second one is both more valuable and restricted to horses which have been running over the winter, both of which are good things.

And, if the day is in the wrong place, well, that's a small price to pay for its existence, because it seems as if it wouldn't have been put on but for it being given the Good Friday slot. So that's all fine - as, of course, is Good Friday racing iself.  Theologically, if we are happy to race on Easter Sunday (which we appear to be, as we've been doing so for at least a decade, and nobody's ever seemed to get worked up about that - or, rather, I should say that my misgivings about racing on Easter Sunday appear to be shared by no one else) then there's no reason to have misgivings about racing on Good Friday.  As regards racing staff, racing on any midweek Bank Holiday - whether that be Good Friday, Easter Monday, Whit Monday, August  Bank Holiday, Boxing Day or whatever - is less of a problem than racing on any Sunday.

In general, in (as far as I know) all racing stables in Britain, any midweek Bank Holiday is treated either as a normal weekday or as a Saturday (ie a day with a normal morning but with an opportunity to give staff time off in the afternoon) whereas any Sunday is treated as a day off, on which one only gets as few employees in as is feasible, and keeps them in for as short a period as possible.  So, again, racing on Good Friday is far less of a problem than racing on Easter Sunday (or on ANY Sunday) (or, indeed, on Boxing Day, which is generally, like Christmas Day, treated as a Sunday) - and we're (apparently) happy to have racing every Sunday plus Boxing Day.  So why Good Friday had become such a sacred cow, God only knows.  And, as betting shops are going to be open anyway, I can't see that there should be any grounds for objecting on behalf of bookies' employees either.

Anyway, we now have Good Friday as a raceday (which is clearly a good thing for 'racing', as it's clearly not in our interests not to be staging sport on any day on which betting shops are open, as that would only be encouraging punters to bet on other sports or quasi-sports - and that's the last thing we should ever be doing) and the day can/should be viewed (as it always should have been) as just another Bank Holiday.  Which made the cheer-leading yesterday all the more puzzling.  Lingfield's funfair-like crowd of 8,700 was hailed as a stirring success - and yet that's just par for the course for a Bank Holiday raceday.

I'd imagine that there'll be similar figures (and a similar "demographic", as the BHA's marketing department doubtless says) at, say, Fakenham , Huntingdon or Plumpton on Easter Monday (and considerably more at Cartmel) - and nobody will see anything remarkable at all in what goes on at those courses.  But we'll just content ourselves with saying that it was (big surprise/relief, and thereby confounding the nay-sayers, so we're told) a rip-roaring success (and we'll overlook the fact that it was actually just a standard Bank Holiday raceday, and was never likely to be anything else).

As you can see from this chapter's illustrations (the first of which, of  Ethics Girl and Wasabi, was taken on Thursday, and the remainder of which were taken the following day, ie yesterday, ie Good Friday) the weather remains very good (and considerably better than the woefully laboured sentence construction in today's bulletin).

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