We’re big on traditions at Cartmel: the Bank Holiday fixtures in May and August, Taylor's Funfair in the centre of the Course Enclosure and Sticky Toffee Puddings for all the winning connections.
Many of our racegoers have their own traditions too: family picnics from the boot of the car, a walk around the village before the first race or a meal in one of the pubs in the square after the last one. Regular visitors have their favourite places to watch from – and some turn up as early as 7.00am in the morning to secure a parking space near the running rail, lighting up the barbecue for breakfast, lunch and tea.
The blessing of the horse, part of Sunday’s Steeplechase Service, may only have started fourteen years ago – but it already has the feel of an age-old tradition with many of the congregation attending year after year. It’s even becoming a bit of a tradition for Jimmy Moffatt to win the Cartmel Cup, after three consecutive seasons, and for racehorse-owners Keith and Helen Bowron to bring the large double-handled cup to the Priory to count their blessings the following day. It’s a tradition they’re keen to maintain as it helps to cut down on house-work; apparently when the trophy gets returned to the racecourse, for a few days in August, it leaves an unsightly, un-dusted, ring on the side-board.
I’ve noticed that some other sports have cost-cutting traditions - that I’d be quite interested in adopting. For example, during the gaps between polo chukkas (the chukka is the period of play) spectators are invited to walk on to the pitch and tread in the divots, Some polo clubs even advertise ‘divot stomping’ as one of the main attractions of the game: ‘a wonderful way to socialise while helping the groundsmen to flatten the turf’.
Most racecourses don’t allow members of the public on to the track, although at Cartmel it has long been the norm for children to play football and cricket between the steeplechase fences. How much more useful would it be if they could be persuaded to tread in divots instead?
The bookmakers have a tradition – of ripping up the successful betting slips and throwing them on the floor – which has led, over the years, to many racegoers doing the same thing with their losing ones. The litter from this Bank Holiday weekend has already been painstakingly picked by our litter-pickers and taken away by Wicks Waste Management (who recycle 100%), but I can’t help feeling that the littering of the racecourse is one of the few traditions I’d like to stop.
... Unlike my traditional weekly tip – which will doubtless prove unstoppable: Kentford Heiress at Fontwell Park on Sunday. Win or lose, may your betting slip find its way to a suitable bin.