Thursday, October 08, 2015

All About The Horse (or All About The Jargon)

Aaagh - tomorrow will be the third consecutive Friday night we've been to Wolverhampton.  Gee, I do find these winter evening meetings (not that we're in winter yet, but it seems that way when you're racing in the dark) a struggle.  It doesn't make sense because you can knock off sometime around midnight when it's only getting dark around the time you get home, and it doesn't seem too bad; but when it's been dark for five or six hours already, it takes it out of you.  Still, at least it's not cold yet, and at least it won't be raining: after a band of heavy rain earlier in the week, we're back to high pressure, and today was glorious.

Anyway, we'll be running Fen Lady in the 7.40 at Wolverhampton tomorrow, and if she can run as pleasingly as she did last time, I'll be happy.  It's still fairly early days for her, notwithstanding that next week it will be two years since her purchase, but she seems to be heading in the right direction.  I won't, though, illustrate this chapter with any pictures of her.  I did take one of her and Hannah returning from their canter this morning, but I was looking into the sun, which was so bright that one can hardly see them in the photograph.  Instead I'll put up some of the other photographs which I took on this really splendid morning.

Another highlight of today, aside from the lovely weather, has been the article in the Racing Post listing the finalists in the various categories of the RCA Awards.  You'd feel from reading this article that today might be 1st April, but that's not the case: today is 8th October.  It's not just that the finalists in some cases have one scratching one's head, but also that the titles of some of the categories have to be read to be believed.  I think that my favourite category is "Digital / Social Media Experience", and my favourite finalist in that category is "Pontefract - Improving the Ponte Digital Experience with Social Media VIPs".  Pontefract has done well to win my vote here because it's a competitive category, not least for also containing "Goodwood - Data Insight to Drive Digital Success".  The unorthodox over-use of capital letters does, of course, add a further layer of delight to the list.

I'm pleased to see that "Newbury - Uniquely Newbury" has made it onto the short list for "Operational Excellence", despite the fact that it's probably fair to say that Newbury still has a long, long way to go before it is even within sight of regaining its former glory.  And I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt by suggesting that there is any realistic chance of it ever doing so.  But - credit where it is due - the staff there are almost all very friendly and helpful, and they are trying.  Goodwood doesn't make it into the finalists of the "Operational Excellence" category, but they're in some others, over and above their Social Meejaar Experience.

"Goodwood - 'Glorious' the Qatar Goodwood Festival" is a finalist in "Best Campaign", while "Goodwood - The Qatar Goodwood Festival" makes it onto the list for "Events" (as does "Haydock Park - Kylie: Live at Haydock", and it's good to know that that was so much better than all the very many other concerts, including the other Kylie concerts).  I probably ought to give credit for "Windsor - Berkshire College of Agriculture Raceday" being a finalist in "Racing Together Community & Corporate Social Responsiblity", but really the main lesson from this is that Sepp Blatter's suspension by FIFA doesn't seem to have diminished Qatar's ability to win votes.

I do, of course, say that very much tongue-in-cheek.  What is a serious point, though, is what a wonderful ambassador for his country Sheikh Fahad al Thani is.  The worst thing that has ever happened to Qatar has been its being given permission to host the World Cup, because the consequence of that debacle is that if you played a word-association game with the man on the Clapham omnibus (or The Man on The Clapham Omnibus) and hit him with "Qatar", you'd have a strong chance of getting "bribery" or "corruption" thrown back at you.  Compare and contrast, as our examiners used to say, Sheikh Fahad: if you asked me to name a high-profile figure in racing whose decency, integrity and sportsmanship shine out like a beacon, I'd probably cite him.  The World Cup debacle has single-handedly holed Qatar's reputation below the water-line, but Sheikh Fahad's conduct in the racing world continually does a wonderful job in redeeming it.

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