Showing posts from December, 2012

Rein in the year

A winning team As a serious horse racing fan I’m always intrigued to see how the game is perceived by the wider sport consuming public. If this year’s Sports Personality Of The Year extravaganza was the barometer, I could be forgiven for thinking I love a minority sport. Cheltenham, Royal Ascot and The Grand National are the perennial mentions, though I did appreciate the longer linger on Frankel and his great trainer, Sir Henry Cecil. It’s a shame neither could have been there. I’m sure the latter would if able, however the former is a little pre-occupied at anything up to £100k a pop just now. Nevertheless, I indulgently wallowed in this enormous Olympic SPOTY fest, beaming at (the now beknighted) Wiggins’ left-field contributions and cringing at Linekar’s shallow Spanish stunts. Of course, the programme can never be a true reflection of the breadth and depth of the nation’s sporting achievements, although it increasingly sits awkwardly with the institution’s shrin

Photos of 2012: 52 weeks

The Guardian's Flickr group ‘52 weeks’ draws to a close this week. I've just uploaded my final photo. What a great project. A  feature  on the group recently appeared on the Guardian’s website and the group’s closing request is for members to offer some reflections on the year. So here goes. I looked back at my  half term report  and am pleased to see that early enthusiasm for the project grew at about the same rate as the challenge of finding new, inspirational material. I have tried to use the group’s aims of sharing images that mark big events, personal stories or world news in 2012 as a guide. But there is also hefty doff of the cap to pragmatism when those landmark moments fail to materialise and the week was suddenly running out, leaving me to conjure a worthy snap from the garden, the sky or the street. Surprisingly as tough was the challenge to limit the choice to only one each week when the subject matter was stronger. During the Olympics, for instanc

A waiting game

I’m hammering away at the keyboard here almost as hard as the rain is hammering down on the sodden ground outside. The chances of the cards at Haydock and Ascot even getting underway are slimmer than a stickman on a diet, never mind completing. It’s 9.30am and its still dark. We had some friends round for a pre-Christmas drink last night. It was a reasonably civilized affair, although the lopsided pyramid of dripping Doom Bar bottles outside the back door is evidence of a solidly sociable occasion. And the CDs piled up next to the stereo are cast-iron retro fodder: Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Bob Dylan, ELO, John Lennon, The Black Crowes, Ian McNabb. Nothing there that troubled the charts this century. Yes, we still play CDs. How passé! The Christmas party season starts earlier and finishes later, I swear. The good thing about being self-employed is the regular flow of Christmas events I get invited to. For the last three Mondays I've bumped into Patrick who lives u

Tingle of anticipation

I popped into the bookies for 20 minutes in my lunch break yesterday. It was time well spent. First I watched a three-year-old chase from Pau, in the shadow of the Pyrenees,  run over the craziest switchback, carting circuit of a cross-country course I’ve ever seen. It made the Cheltenham track, scene of many wrong-course disqualifications, look like an M1 slip road. One obstacle was less water jump, more shallow lake. Fish were jumping and the leaders did well to avoid the jet skis. Most of the open track resembled sheep grazing pasture with tussock and fescue aplenty to cause hazard to man and beast. The winner, as in England, asserted off a slow pace once the race returned to the regulation chase track. Malberaux will surely be one to watch come the Festival. You heard it here first. Next up, the event in which I had a punting interest (after-timing alert), featured a stunning sit from jockey Aiden Coleman. His mount and race favourite Renard D’Irlande clattered the 12