Friday, 7 May 2010

That was the week that was

I've been a bit quiet this week on the blogging front, partly because I've been out of the office a bit. My first week into my new decade has been interesting, starting at the one racecourse in the world which fights Goodwood for a place in my heart as my favourite horseracing venue: Chester.

I went up on Tuesday night to catch up with the racecourse's MD, Richard Thomas, who treated me to dinner at a fantastic new on-course restaurant (well, new since I last went) called 1539. We chatted all things racing, over a good meal and a decent bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.

If you're of the view that racing is short of progressive thinkers, I recommend you make a visit and fish Richard out. Over the years, I've grown used to discussing ideas which in my view would do no more for racing than start the game of catch-up on time that has long-since passed; but on Tuesday evening, I enjoyed listening to some genuinely strategic thoughts designed to get ahead of the curve. It made for stimulating conversation.

I stayed overnight at the new Abode Hotel overlooking the racecourse (genuinely new this time: it had been open a week; and very nice it was too), and on Wednesday did something that you can't claim to do every day: I sat next to Sir Alex Ferguson for lunch.

I kept my BBC history quiet in case it meant he didn't speak to me, and I found him very friendly and down-to-earth, if for some reason remarkably more difficult to understand in real life than he is on the telly. I don't think that was because we chatted mainly about racehorse ownership, although with my limited knowledge, that's always possible. Still, it didn't seem appropriate to grill him for footballing wisdom, tempting though it was. It was, after all, a day off. For him, I mean. :)

A large part of Manchester United's squad came with him as guests in our box, while in the box immediately next door, Michael Owen was hosting family and friends, including our very own Bert, who has, of course, gone into partnership with him at Manor House Stables. They sponsored the opening race of the day, and won it, to great celebration across the two balconies. No-one was booked for taking off a shirt, though.

It was a shame to head back down south, particularly as doing so also meant a trip back down to earth. From relative glitterati, I was soon back in the world of French forums, which are inevitably buzzing with chat from consumers planning to get around French legislation. That and the Higgins snooker story have dominated the questions I've been asked by people this week. I suspect my personal view of neither will come as a surprise to anyone who has spoken to me or has been a regular reader of this blog, because I've written in the past about the issues which form the basis of both stories. If you've missed them and are wondering, you can see them here and here. I'll save the rest of you on-going repetition!

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