Thinking about next week’s Game Fair at Blenheim, I remember a few years ago sitting next to the Telegraph columnist Charlie Brooks at lunch on the Friday. Mr Brooks had just recently written a piece slagging off the RSPB so we had a few things to chat about and the conversation roamed over the usual ground favoured by the ‘real country person’ – badgers, crows and buzzards.
It was all good knock-about fun and Mr Brooks’s strongly-held opinions were not unfamiliar to me. But we did have safer ground to retreat to as Charlie Brooks was once a very good national hunt jockey and then a pretty good racehorse trainer. In between asking how you could possibly have too many buzzards I asked Charlie about horses like the great grey Suny Bay which he trained to a second place in the Grand National in the 1997 in the bomb-threat delayed race. I pointed out that I would have won more money that day if Mr Brooks had a done a slightly better job!
I watched that race at the end of the working day with the then Chief Exec Barbara Young in the RSPB Press Office. Barbara had backed the winner, Lord Gyllene, whereas my money had been on Charlie’s Suny Bay. The next year, 1998, Suny Bay was back again at Aintree but the heavens opened and this time my money was on the winner, Earth Summit who had previously won the Welsh National and already had the Scottish National in his collection too.
I see that Charlie has written about badgers and so, no doubt, he is wondering whether there will be a badger-related announcement on Monday or Tuesday next week. The government is running out of time before Parliament chucks it in for the summer on Wednesday. Perhaps the furore over the News of the World has provided an excuse for delaying the announcement until the autumn – would you want to be the government who announced a badger cull? David Cameron may not fancy being the Prime Minister who is known as being ‘Too kind to Rupert, too nasty to Brock’.