Thursday, 22 January 2015
Things Ain't What They Used To Be
Mercy, mercy me; things ain’t what they used to be. First Cadbury changes the recipe for Creme Eggs, then The Sun dumps page 3 girls, the Royal Mint tell us that 3% of £1 coins are fake and now race distances are about to get shorter.
The Sun newspaper first started publishing photographs of girls, minus their vests, on its third page in November 1970 – about the same time that Cadbury started producing their version of the Creme Egg. Both were considered to be sweet by many and sickly by others. The Creme Eggs were enrobed in Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolate, while the page 3 girls weren’t enrobed in anything very much at all.
Cadbury were taken over by Kraft Foods and now the Creme Egg consists of the same revolting gooey fondant, albeit encased in an inferior waxy chocolate shell. In the meantime, The Sun sneaked a page 3 girl back into Thursday’s edition of the paper – introducing a new element of will-they-won’t-they surprise about the whole feature.
My own experience of page 3 girls is that they are far from two-dimensional, if you’ll excuse me stating the obvious. I should explain that a few years ago (about 20 actually) I helped to launch The Sun’s immensely popular Punters Club. The club leased horses trained by Martin Pipe, Howard Johnson and Mick Channon which regularly won races and were led into Winners Enclosures, up and down the land, by proud page 3 girls. Unlike some of the other racegoers, the girls never lost their shirts, were always polite and 100% charming.
…Which is a lot better than the pound coins in our pocket, of which only 97% are believed to be genuine. According to an article by the Daily Mail (so it must be true), Dutch Police recently closed down a counterfeiting plant capable of producing 4 million coins per year, while the Royal Mint believe there could be up to 50 million fake coins in circulation.
So what else isn’t what it used to be? Well, following the revelation that Wetherby’s Charlie Hall Chase was run over a distance 78 yards shorter than advertised, all jumps racecourses have been asked to employ a surveyor to re-measure their tracks.
Quite apart from the fact that distances were previously measured to the nearest half furlong, the criteria for measurement is also changing subtly – from taking the central line on each individual course, to measuring the circumference six feet off the inside running rail. Rails are frequently moved outwards between race-days, to allow the ground on the inside to recover. Crucially, the new measurements will be taken when the rails are on the inner-most line.
The result? I’m pretty certain that most race distances will either get very slightly shorter, or that the starts will be moved a few yards backward. It won’t make any difference to horses like Many Clouds (this week’s selection for the Gold Cup trial at Cheltenham on Saturday), but the improved accuracy may just assist the form analysts who use a stopwatch to compare the relative speeds clocked by horses on our tracks.
Some changes are for the better.