I used to hate horse racing! As a child, nothing bored me more than Channel 4 racing on a Saturday afternoon and the odd visit to the racecourse with my parents did nothing to change my view. I just couldn’t see the point and would rather be making a den or playing Subbuteo. How things have changed!!!

I have recently celebrated my 33rd birthday with an afternoon at Nottingham Racecourse, where I now attend most meetings. Racing has become a massive part of my life. Trawling various racing websites, studying form, reading Dick Francis novels and even developing my own spreadsheet to analyse form and predict winners are now everyday activities. Before the Racing Post IPad App was launched, my local shop even reserved me a copy of the Racing Post everyday and joked about being worried about me if I hadn’t been in to collect it early on in the morning.

However, being a very busy primary school Deputy Headteacher makes keeping up to date with runners, riders, news and market movers a challenge. The short journey to work, the few minutes whilst I eat my lunch and then any time left after I have finished marking, planning and assessing children’s work is dedicated to my passion for racing (as of course are weekends and holidays).

So what changed?

My dad has always loved a bet and in my teens, I started having very small stake football accumulators on Saturday football matches. I started betting more at university and it was through betting that I initially became more interested in horse racing. I knew absolutely nothing about it though but before long I found myself researching all the things I didn’t understand. I remember one of the first things I couldn’t get my head around was why North Light wasn’t defending his title of Derby winner a year after his Epsom triumph. I quickly learned about the ‘classic’ generation and have since found myself explaining to friends that the Derby is a race restricted to top class, middle distance 3 year olds only. This was an example of my determination to teach myself everything I could about all aspects of racing from simple things like understanding the card to more complicated things like training methods and breeding lines. Very soon, my interest in racing was nothing to do with the betting side of it and over the past nine or so years I have become more and more interested in everything racing has to offer.

Apparently, studying the Timeform ‘bibles’ was a favourite hobby of my granddad, who sadly died when I was young. Even now, my mum will jokingly moan about the hours she spent being dragged to various racecourses as a child and compares my passion for racing to my granddad's. He would have absolutely loved Elite Racing Club! I joined over seven years ago and have loved every minute of my membership. My highlight so far is having an owners badge for Dandino’s 2nd place in a Nottingham maiden when he was just a two year old. It was great to feel so involved and to meet James Given and Paul Mulrennan. Back then, James Given said he was a very nice colt but I don’t think many people could have predicted that Dandino would go on to such great things as he has - including a very respectable run in the Melbourne Cup for his new owners!

That was not the only time I have been at a racecourse to see Dandino. Back in September 2010, my wife and I were lucky enough to win a Racing Post VIP competition for St Leger day. It was absolutely fantastic to be there cheering him on in such a prestigious race (even though the result was not what we had hoped for). The VIP experience was something we will always remember. Before we met, my wife had no interest whatsoever in horse racing. Slowly, my passion for it has started to rub off on her and she now knows her claimers from her sellers, blinkers from visors and can explain the relationship between a horse’s official rating and its weight carried in a handicap race. Then again, I suppose she doesn’t really have much of a choice with me talking about it all of the time!!!

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