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Blanks at Huntingdon & Leicester - Auntie Betty Saves The Day!

Hey everyone! I’m back with an update from my latest legs of the "Around the Courses in 80 Days" challenge for Dementia UK. Although the past couple of days have been a bit disappointing, there were still some bright spots worth sharing. Let’s dive into the details of my visits to Huntingdon and Leicester, and how Auntie Betty came to the rescue.

Leg 38: Huntingdon

I have already had a moan on social media about the attitude of the Jockey Club and some of their courses so I will not go into that again but if you have not seen it and want to have a read please click the link

This was my first visit to the Cambridgeshire track, and from a racing perspective, I had a great time. I managed to chat with trainer Fergal O'Brien, who was kind enough to wish me well with my challenge and even gave it a retweet on his Twitter account (or X, as it’s bizarrely called these days).

One of the highlights was the Shetland pony race beforehand. These pint-sized ponies are adorable, and the young jockeys take their races so seriously. It's fun to think that the next AP McCoy or Rachael Blackmore might be among them.

I also caught up with my racing friend Judith Lilley, who graciously offered me a room for the night at her bungalow, which is essentially a shrine to horse racing. Judith treated me to dinner at her local pub, which was incredibly kind of her. Her elderly aunt, known to me now as Auntie Betty, saved the day by giving Judith £20 to pass on to me for the cause. Auntie Betty is a racing fanatic and even has a share in our syndicate horse, Odd Socks Havana. So, thanks to Auntie Betty, it wasn’t a completely blank fundraising day!

Leg 39: Leicester

Next, I headed to Leicester, another course I was visiting for the first time. I knew beforehand that they collect for a local hospice at every meeting, so I wasn’t able to promote or collect for my challenge. The weather was miserable, which was a shame as it was their Student Day. Despite the cold and wet conditions, the students, especially the girls in their stylish but not weather-appropriate outfits, kept their spirits up.

I bumped into a group of Rogue Gallery syndicate members, who had two runners on the day. They kindly donated some money for the cause, which was much appreciated.

Overall, traveling over 200 miles to both courses, spending time, fuel, and even paying for some accommodation, only to find out I couldn’t collect or promote the challenge, made for a tough couple of days. But every bit helps, and meeting generous people along the way always lifts my spirits.

On to Cartmel

After a wet and soggy Leicester I headed north to our house near Clitheroe for a quick stopover before I make my way to Cartmel this evening. I’ve been pre-advised that they also have a charity collecting there, so we’ll see what happens on arrival. I think a visit to the village square may be fruitful before racing.

I’m looking forward to walking this unique and beautiful racecourse, no matter what the fundraising situation turns out to be.

The Importance of Online Donations

With the challenges faced at some courses, online donations are becoming more crucial than ever. Thanks to your generosity, I’ve just passed the £8,000 mark! Now, my eyes are set on reaching £9k as soon as possible. If you haven’t donated yet, please consider doing so. Every donation, big or small, boosts my morale and momentum as I strive to raise as much as possible for Dementia UK. This wonderful charity does incredible work supporting families affected by this awful condition.

Donate here: Just Giving Page


Thanks for sticking with me on this journey.

That’s all for now, folks! Speak soon.


Graham Arnold

29th May 2024

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