When the team from Bright Stars called the racecourse office, I thought perhaps they were going to ask me to sing alongside Sir Tom Jones, on the Cartmel stage, at the end of June. But no, it turned out that Bright Stars is a competition for primary school children, working with a mentor from a local company, to create a money-making enterprise.
Now I love children, almost as much as I love money, so I said yes straight away and thought it’d be really easy. Apparently, though, we’re not allowed to send the smallest ones up chimneys anymore and the bigger ones are prone to getting stuck - which is no use at all.
Fortunately the children at Cartmel Primary were given £50 in a golden envelope, which seemed like a good head-start, so I suggested that they put the whole lot on Highland Lodge in the Grand National – giving them the potential to generate a cosy £2,500. Then they told me that the competition closed on the Monday before Cheltenham, severely restricting our options.
On visiting the school, I discovered that the children of Class 2 were studying the story of David and Goliath, which gave me a brilliant idea. "I bet there were loads of people," I said, "who would have paid good money to watch that fight. Perhaps you could stage a fight of your own in the playground."
I’m pleased to say that the children took my advice. Well sort of. They didn’t actually put on a fight, but they did decide to create an event and charge people to come and watch. And instead of the playground, they chose the racecourse grandstand as the venue for their Evening of Stories and Poetry Reading. The children read in front of a captivated audience, all of whom agreed that they had been substantially undercharged for the experience at the bargain admission fee of just £5. So when we were asked to pay a further £2 for the accompanying programme, including further writings and pictures created by the children, who could refuse?
It'd be difficult to choose a favourite from the array of obvious talent on display, but one that sticks in my mind was the story of a horse called ‘Star’ who attended the races at Cartmel, only to discover that it wasn’t quite what she had expected. Startled by the loudspeaker, Star galloped through the square… "Past the medieval Priory and the famous Cartmel Cheese Shop all the way to the Primary School. She missed her race and ate all of the flowers in the school garden."
I won’t be in a hurry to back Star when she next makes an appearance at Cartmel. But if the children fancy playing up their takings from Wednesday evening, the selection for this weekend is Darebin in the Imperial Cup at Sandown.