Everyone knows that chocolate is a good thing. Included within a long list of health benefits are claims that chocolate may help to lower cholesterol, prevent memory decline, reduce heart disease and reduce the risk of strokes – if taken in the appropriate amounts. Happy obesity (and possible disqualification from races if you happen to be a horse) is the penalty for inappropriately large doses.
Chocolate contains Theobromine, a natural stimulant which can induce happiness. If there’s no racing at Cartmel, you could always try the next best thing – a bar of chocolate or perhaps racing at Cheltenham (or even Aintree – where this weekend’s selection is Lucinda Russell’s Lie Forrit).
During the Napoleonic wars, when the British blockaded the Mediterranean, there was a great shortage of cocoa beans in Turin. A chocolatier by the name of Michele Prochet came up with a fabulous idea: he blended the beans with hazelnuts from the Langhe Hills. The result was Gianduja, a delicious blend of nuttiness and happiness – not unlike a day at Cartmel races.
Following the Second World War, rationing restricted the availability of chocolate once again and Pietro Ferrero (an ancestor of the ambassador’s favourite chocolatier, made famous by TV advertising in the 1990’s) returned to the mixing bowl to make the happiness stretch that little bit further. He refined and adapted the recipe until, in 1951, he produced a confection which was not only chocolaty and nutty, but also sweet and smooth – not unlike many of the staff and racegoers at Cartmel races.
In 1964 the product was adapted again, packaged smartly and given a new name. Nutella hit the shop shelves of Europe to great acclaim and sales grew to the point where the manufacture of Nutella accounted for nearly 25% of the global hazelnut harvest. The public just can’t get enough Nutella – not unlike the demand for tickets at Cartmel races.
Advertising for Nutella was challenged in the Californian Courts when the manufacturers claimed that Nutella could form part of a nutritious breakfast – possibly including wholemeal bread and orange juice. In 2012 they finally settled out of court for the reported sum of 3 million dollars. Nutella may not be a life-sustaining essential of modern Californian diets, but it is definitely life-enhancing – not unlike Cartmel races.
So – apart from the qualities of this life enhancing, sweetly-smooth, popular, happiness-inducing and slightly nutty product, what else has Nutella got to do with Cartmel races? Well here’s the thing…
In recent years, Cartmel’s customers have been suffering similar withdrawal symptoms to those experienced by the inhabitants of Turin in the late 18th Century. Just like Michele Prochet and Pietro Ferrero before us, we had a dream to spread the happiness a little bit further. And this week the BHA finally announced that, in 2015, we’ll be allowed to stage an extra day’s racing.
Our new eight-day season will be equally split into four 2-day meetings, taking place in May, June, July and August. By adding a little bit of nuttiness along the way, we intend to put on a great spread for all our racegoers - to be consumed as part of a balanced diet of horseracing, of course.