One of the pleasures of running a racecourse is the endless variety that every day brings: one minute we could be planning improvements to the track, the next we might be working on ticket sales, race sponsorship, an advertising campaign, catering arrangements, the race-programme, waste collection, traffic management or chasing cattle.
Chasing cattle? Well that’s what I found myself doing on the day before our most recent race-meeting in July. Cartmel is a popular area for walking and it seems that a long sequence of gates had been left open between Cark and Cartmel, enabling a group of excited heifers to gallop from one end of the parish to the other. We were lucky it didn’t result in a scene of udder-destruction (sorry).
Fortunately they took a right-turn at our racegoer camp-site, avoided the racetrack and headed through the woods to the road, before being ushered back into a field adjacent to our Course Enclosure entrance. It wasn’t long before one of our neighbouring farmers arrived to reclaim the cattle and restore them to a securely fenced pasture.
Fortunately the animals weren’t too intracta-bull and they followed the farmer when he rattled a sack full of feed. Despite the fun of chasing the cows across the field, and the undoubted benefits brought by the aerobic exercise, I do have a plea for dog walkers and racegoers visiting the Cartmel area – please remember the Countryside Code.
First devised in the 1950s, the Countryside Code was once on the curriculum of all primary schools. While it has seen various revisions over the last sixty years, there are a few staples which have remained unchanged – such as: Leave gates and property as you find them - a farmer will normally close gates to keep farm animals in, but may sometimes leave them open so the animals can reach food and water. When in a group, make sure the last person knows how to leave the gates.
Other good advice includes: Use gates, stiles or gaps in field boundaries if you can – climbing over walls, hedges and fences can damage them and increase the risk of farm animals escaping.
Now, if all the horses that I backed could run as fast as the cattle I chased, I would be a very rich man. This week I’m pinning my hopes on Intrinsic, who will be ridden by Richard Hughes in the Stewards Cup at Goodwood. If you think that you may have heard this bull before – it’s probably a case of déjà moo.