Friday, 22 November 2013

The Team That Brings Tears To My Eyes

If I’m looking a bit teary-eyed at the moment it’s not because Knockara Beau finished second at Cheltenham last Saturday; although he did run one of those heart-squelchingly, gutsy, races, where you really wish the stewards would just place him first. No, I’ve been peeling onions. 

Yes onions, because on Friday evening we’ll be welcoming around 110 members of our casual-staff for a party in the grandstand. They’ll be a bit of music, a drink or two, a lot of chat and some lasagne. That’s where the onions come in – there’s also garlic, salt, pepper, tomatoes, beef (supplied by Clare at Furness Fish, Poultry & Game Ltd – I know… they do beef too!), milk, flour and cheese.

If I’ve forgotten anything, perhaps you could let me know, as soon as possible, as the hunger of 110 people depends on this turning out alright. The alternative is crusty bread and butter. 

The annual get-together has added significance this year, because it is the final time that Dorothy Lodge will be attending in her role as Staff Manager – I hope she will continue to attend for many years as our “former Staff Manager”, racecard seller, litter picker, envelope stuffer or whatever else she feels like turning her hand to.

As long as her hand recovers that is; because this week she has been wearing it in a sling following an operation. Together with her husband, Bruce, they make quite a pair. He has only one hand, following a misunderstanding with a piece of agricultural equipment some years ago. They’re not a very good pair; between them they have  two left hands and no right ones at the moment – but they couldn’t be happier together, more congenial company or more dedicated to their work.

While Dorothy coordinates the race-day staff, Bruce supervises the public crossing point at the end of the finishing straight. During races he holds a broad white tape across the track in order to allow the horses with jockeys to pass one way and the ones without to pass the other. It’s a very important role, as you can be fairly sure that without him, most of the jockeys wouldn’t know which way to go. 

On one memorable occasion Bruce made a valiant attempt at catching a loose horse as it veered towards him and ended up lying on the grass. While Bruce got to his feet and the Clerk of the Course and I discussed the safety issues surrounding the incident, Dorothy summed up their joint commitment to Cartmel races – “At least he would have died doing something he loved” she said. 

If you think that I’ve just picked on a couple of "interesting" members of our race-day team for effect, you should meet the rest of them. I’ve always believed that if you want to run a racecourse with a bit of character, you have to employ a few. It’ll be a great party!

This weekend’s selections are Gevrey Chambertin (in the Fixed Brush Handicap Hurdle, 2.25 Haydock - he's a full-brother to a previous winner of the race) and Silviniaco Conti (in the 3.00 at Haydock - a race he won last year).

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