I had a great time at Cheltenham and you had a great time with the excellent guest blogs here.
Thank you to Matt Williams, Andrew Lucas, Sue Walker and Leo Fisher for four stimulating blogs. And thank you all for your comments on the blogs. I will come back to some of these subjects myself over the weeks ahead.
One of the subjects for conversation amongst my friends at Cheltenham was the watering of the course – 4 million gallons in the run up to the four-day racing festival and some more on Wednesday (and Thursday?) nights too. Four million gallons sounds like a lot, and it is the equivalent of 100,000 day’s of the average household’s water use. That’s c300 years of water use for a household or the water use of a small town of 300 houses for a year. But, as I understand it, the water comes from the course’s own reservoir and therefore is not really depriving others of water. I have a feeling that like much of our countryside, many of our racecourses are now too well drained thanks to investment in drainage in the 1980s and they might be better off with less efficient drainage systems. Makes you think though doesn’t it?
And this was an ‘almost-winning’ (ie losing) Cheltenham for me – although it was a close-run thing. If only Albertas Run had managed to win his race (sponsored by a hard-nosed Irish airline) for the third year in a row, instead of coming second, I would have had a winning Cheltenham.
But it was great fun nonetheless. And the wildlife wasn’t bad. Thanks to the sharp eyes of Sally Webber I saw a swallow flying over the Cheltenham racecourse car park on Thursday – that’s quite an early record. Other wildlife on my journeys through Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire to and from the races included a dead badger, a Defra Minister, a couple of red kites, a short-eared owl, a former England cricketer, a Buddhist monk, a raven mobbed by two crows, a man taking an iron for a walk, some roe deer and the occasional primrose.