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Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Carols and comedy to ring in Lambourn Valley's festive season

Brightening your day with turf tales from beyond the tracks

John Francome: provided the laughs at Lambourn's carol service
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Some of racing’s biggest names were in attendance at the St Michael & All Angels Church in Lambourn on Wednesday night when the Injured Jockeys Fund hosted a Christmas carol concert.

Nicky Henderson, Ian Balding, Roger Charlton and Colin Brown were among those present for the service, which included readings from the IJF’s president Sir Anthony McCoy and chairman Brough Scott. Clare Balding and Guy Disney, who this year won the Royal Artillery Gold Cup at Sandown after losing his leg below the right knee in Afghanistan in 2009, also gave readings, while Oxfordshire trainer Heather Main, who sings opera to her horses, treated a packed church to her talents.

Other, erm, highlights included a not-quite-so pitch-perfect rendition of We Three Kings of Orient Are from Henderson's assistant Toby Lawes and Lambourn trainers Charlie Mann and Dominic ffrench-Davis, although it was unsurprising seven-time champion jump jockey John Francome got the laugh of the night when recalling the story of Jonah, who was swallowed by a whale.

Francome told how a schoolgirl had insisted the whale had gobbled Jonah, only for her irritated teacher to explain that even though whales were huge animals, they had tiny throats and much too small to swallow a human.

“The little girl said, ‘When I get to heaven, I will ask Jonah’,” Francome added. “The teacher asked, ‘What if Jonah went to hell?’

“The little girl replied, ‘Then you ask him’.”

Haute course cuisine

There is good news indeed for Hamilton racegoers following the announcement that Masterchef winner Gary Maclean (below) will create the hospitality menu for the track’s opening meeting on Sunday, May 6.

Gary Maclean: will provide the menu for Hamilton's opening meeting

Glasgow-born Maclean, 45, will include dishes influenced by his time on Masterchef: the Professionals on the menu, while also holding cookery demonstrations on the day.

Hamilton chief executive Vivien Currie says: “The 2018 season is sure to get off to a sizzling start with our fantastic Totepool Family Raceday and we’re thrilled to be working with Scotland’s first ever National Chef on our menu for the day.”


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Oxfordshire trainer Heather Main, who sings opera to her horses, treated a packed church to her talents
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