Sport. The very fine margins. The difference between winning and losing. The moments that define a career. The moments that define a life.
There has been an awful lot of talk recently about FOBT’s. About levels of prize money. About fighting in the bars, and fighting on the lawns. About a crisis within BHA Towers. About housing reviews in Newmarket and Kempton. At times, it would be easy to forget that horse racing is not about petty politics and in-fighting, but is actually about sport. A brilliant, wonderful, enriching sport that pulls at the heart strings, and drags the emotions hither and thither.
Sometimes, we need to cut through the morass of dull and negative and depressing column fodder. To reach the essence of what this is really all about. Sport at it’s fantastic best. Stand by the rails at any racecourse, or by a fence at your local Point-to-Point, and it is hard not to be moved by the magnificence of the thoroughbred. The spectacle of the multi coloured silks. The thud and thump of hooves at speed, the crack of whips, the shouts and whistles (K.Fallon had the best of those) from the jockeys, the cries of the crowd, the crackle of commentary reaching a crescendo as the furlong pole is breached. Many a time have I read of a lifetime’s love affair with racing having begun down by the rails where the action spills past you fast, rugged and raw. For me, it was Fontwell on a spring afternoon. Standing by the downhill fence. Mesmerised. Transfixed. Hooked for life. Look what a mess that afternoon has got me into.