Weblog: Betting Shop Manager of the Year
Selkirk to Ascot plan in eight hours via minibus
As I write this I am having to battle maybe the hardest problem I have had to face as a Betting Shop Manager. Yes, I challenge any one of you out there to try and keep a lid on the excitement of the Selkirk shop team as our trip to Ascot on Friday 16th December approaches!
I can't begin to tell you all how hyper all the guys are, if you could imagine a pressure cooker ready to blow, then times that by 100, you may be getting close. Again a huge thanks to SIS for the invitation and the use of their luxurious box, this really is a once in a lifetime trip for our party, and it is one we are all looking forwardto. I have been fortunate enough to attend quite a few sporting occasions of late, and it has wetted my appetite for getting out there and seeing fixtures live in the flesh again.
Having a young family it had become all to easy to putoff going out and getting to the racing, the football, rugby etc. But it really hit home just what I had been missing when I attended a match at Hibernian's Easter Rd of all places. (Those who know me will realise just how strange that sounds!).
That makes our Ascot trip all the more exciting for me and, if I'm being honest, our other Kelso trip on Sunday 15th January has also captured the imagination of the entire town. Here is why . . . Richard Landale is now officially the single most popular man in Selkirk. Santa Claus probably a close second.
Who is Richard Landale I hear some ask?
Well, Richard is Managing Director at Britain's friendliest racecourse, Kelso. Being our local course it is one that most of the punters here have frequented, and no-one has ever had a bad word to say about their experiences there, hard luck stories excluded. So when Richard contactedme to say congratulations on winning this title, and request a meeting I was intrigued. After meeting him last Wednesday it is easy to see why Kelso is indeed Britain's friendliest racecourse. He is such a positive man, and his attitude is infectious. Heis so passionate about his job, about racing and about the area.
Like myself, he came to the area as an ‘outsider’ and has settled and come to call the Borders home. He also has a lot to thank theBorders General Hospital (BGH) for, having had two hip replacements there. The Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) saved my wee boy’s life, and I have been keen to do something in terms of fundraising in return. Richard already has friends there, and contributes donations regularly, with the annual fancy dress charity race a big hit. So, when he offered to treat 60, yes, SIXTY, of our regular punters to a free day at the races in Kelso's Duke and Duchess box he became a local hero!
He has also kindly agreed to let me use his racecourse on a future date as a landing site for a planned charity skydive. Being scared of heights, it is not something that I am looking forward to as much as our race days out, but it is a wonderful chance to raise money for a worthy cause, the SCBU at the BGH, and I'm pretty sure there will be lots of people ready tohand over a few quid to see me pushed from a plane at 30,000ft!
Scotbet will be providing free transport to and from Kelso for the punters, and a huge thankyou from myself to all involved, and Richard especially, for making this all possible.
Back on track again and I'm really looking forward to Christmas, on both a personal and professional level this year. Kris, my son, is almost six so this year will be a real highlight, and Santa once again will be spoiling him. As will his three grannies. Again.
But at this time of year the sporting calendar never fails to excite, and this year is no different. Along with the usual football derbies both north and south of the border we have the Jumps early season form settling down and the action really getting into full swing. Boxing Day for me is a fantastic day to work, punters having great tales from the previous day, and I love to be in work to hear them, if only to miss Boxing Day dinner at the in-laws!
Seriously though, the King George is a fantastic occasion on the calendar, and what a story it wouldbe if Kauto Star could win it for a fifth time. He really is a superstar horse, and his battles with the unfortunately now retired Denman will live long in the memory.
We have been blessed with great horses of late, it is a bit ofa golden generation with Frankel, Big Bucks, See The Stars and Kauto Star to name but a few. It's not possible to see these horses every day, that's what makes them special, but it is possible to catch a meeting fairly regularly. If you have found yourself in my position where you have maybe drifted away from attending sporting events try and take the time this holiday season to catch an event live, and experience again the atmosphere and magic you only trulyget when you are there. It’s not easy, but it could be the best thing you've done for some time.
Thanks for taking the time to read this and I’ll update you all on our trip to Ascot.An eight hour mini bus journey with 13 people, night out and eight hours back is sure to throw up some interesting stories. And to those other 12 attending with me, everything you do is fair game to be included in here . . . you have been warned!