horses at Wincanton Races

02nd December 2013

Racing Hearts: It’s all about the day after Christmas

Boxing Day might seem a long time away, but as the Jumps season picks up pace, Max Milward argues now is the time to think where you will be on the 26th December.  

On 26 December 2006, Kauto Star sauntered to victory in the King George VI Chase and I tuned in to watch him. A year later, and with me once again staring transfixed at the TV, he scored again in the  Christmas showpiece. For the following two Boxing Days, Kauto made the King George his own and the day after Christmas would always find me watching, captivated, on the sofa.

Before the harsh winter of 2010 got itself well and truly entrenched, an historic fifth King George looked to be on the cards for Kauto and Team Ditcheat. Indeed, even once the frost had caused the race’s postponement and it was rescheduled to mid-January, the price of this horse still implied that he was something of a 'good thing.

For this reason I decided that it was time, at last, to go to Kempton, to be there when history was made and to watch the great animal do his thing in person. But for whatever reason, he did not do “his thing” that day, and was beaten by a young upstart called Long Run.

It is typical, therefore, that one year later, when Kauto reversed the placings with Long Run, I was not there to revel in the raw emotion and the glory of one of racing's great moments. I was back at home watching on Channel 4.

I will always regret that I never saw Kauto Star victorious in the flesh. And I think the only lesson to be learned from this unfortunate turn of events is that one should never miss out on an opportunity to go racing on Boxing Day.

Change is afoot this year. And on 26 December I will not be watching Kempton from the course or even on the telly for that matter. I will be at Wincanton where I have been working for the last few months as a sales and marketing coordinator after completing the BHA Graduate Scheme.

Preparations here at Wincanton for our Boxing Day fixture are already gearing up. I fully expect to have my work cut out in the run up to what is our busiest raceday of the year by far, and I have already been warned by colleagues that there might just be quite a bit for me to coordinate. But personally, and in spite of their warnings, I cannot wait.

I can hardly think of a better way to work off the turkey and potatoes (or Quorn Christmas roast, for the vegetarians amongst you)  than spending Boxing Day out in the fresh air of Wincanton, the place they call 'the gateway to Somerset'.  Few racecourses can boast such an idyllically bucolic backdrop, and the landscape in its winter glory will be a sight to remember this December.

But wherever you are for the festive period this year (providing you are in the country that is) you will never be too far from a piece of the racing action. And for all you know, you might catch a glimpse of the next Kauto Star.

Do not make the same mistake I did. Come racing!