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Jumping into Legs 26,27 & 28

Leg 26 - Sedgefield

One of my favourite courses, and they were very welcoming and even gave me a complimentary portion of fish and chips which were amazing. I enjoyed walking the course with Stuart Lewis and experiencing the undulations of the circuit. It was a great day as I met up with many friends from the Purple Reins Racing syndicate who were there for two reasons, as they were attending an Open Day at our trainer, Rebecca Menzies, yard the next morning to see our beloved Odd Socks Havana.

It was a beautifully warm day and the racing was followed by an Abba Tribute act that had everyone in high spirits, especially when I stood in front of the stage shaking my bucket when they sang Money, Money, Money.

It was long day that ended in a couple of beers back at The Hardwick Arms Hotel, where I had stayed previously and the manager Paul managed to get some donations to the bucket from the locals. All in all a good day and £326 was raised for Dementia UK

Leg 27 - Hexham

The following day could not have started better, after staying the night at The County in Newton Aycliffe Village, I was treated to the most gorgeous Eggs Benedict breakfast and on checking out was so pleasantly surprised when Michael, who again I have known for a while due to previous stays at his beautiful place, didn't charge for the room as his contribution to the challenge. What a generous gesture and I cannot recommend The County enough if ever you are staying over for a night or two if coming racing at Sedgefield or visiting Rebecca Menzies stable.

I then drove a couple of miles to Howe Hills Stables to see Rebecca, Odd Socks and his friends and we all had an enjoyable morning there as always. Thank you to Stuart Lewis for organising this.

That's where the good points of the day end. From there I drove to Hexham racecourse in Northumberland where I received a less than supportive attitude from them.

OK, they gave me admission to the course but refused point blankly to do anything else, not even walk the course. Their manager, Robert Whitlock, told me he only lets jockeys and trainers walk HIS course. I challenged this by saying surely one more person, doing a walk for charity would not hurt but, alas he did not budge and would not even allow me to walk the service road inside the track where the emergency vehicles go. Plus I was not very impressed when he raised issues from the past with the Breath of Fresh Air syndicate that were a completely separate issue and not related to this in any way. I told him part of the challenge was to walk each course and Hexham were letting me down, being the only one not to allow it, but that never changed a a thing. Think a certain person who has been trying to sabotage all of this from day one had got to him. Poor show Hexham and it was just not me that were saddened by this but the eight friends that were in attendance with me too. Not sure any of us will be back so well done Robert! Which is a shame as it is such a stunning location

After racing I headed across to Penrith to stay at my sister's before embarking on the journey down to Ludlow in Shropshire yesterday.

Leg 28 - Ludlow What a difference a day makes. I arrived in the gorgeous town early as Stuart Morris, the manager of the Betfred shop had arranged for me to have a £25 free charity bet at the meeting. So I went and met Stuart, who has been so supportive of the challenge and placed the bet, on the 16/1 shot Fenney Brook each way. She ran well for a while then faded out of contention to finish 6th. This was a great gesture from Stuart and Betfred and would be nice if some other bookmakers got involved in a similar way.

It was my first visit to Ludlow and I loved the course, walking around it I realised what great condition it was in. I was very impressed.

Being Ladies Day and sunny a large crowd was expected. I was thrilled to meet the Clerk of the Course, Simon Sherwood, who of course is a legendary figure in racing following his dramatic win of the magnificent Desert Orchid in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1989. But it was not this story I discussed with him but the one where he was riding Fudge Delight in the last leg of a placepot bet I had that needed to be placed. He rode him out so hard up the hill to get a place by a short head, which resulted in five of us landing the placepot five of us had done between us, which paid an amazing £8,000 plus, a lot of money these days, let alone back then. So I told him how grateful we all were which made him laugh.

Anyway, Simon and his team made me very welcome allowing a really prominent table display and an interview with the on-course announcer, which always helps. The racing was fun and competitive and I was looking forward to my allowed bucket collection at the exit gate. 5 minutes before I walked across to do this an electric storm hit, which made it a little uncomfortable and soggy but the good folk of Ludlow dug deep into their raincoats etc and I managed to collect an amazing £444.20 - thank you Ludlow!

So with some online donations too yesterday the total amount raised as I type this stands at £6,402 which is 32% of the target. Being 47% through the challenge of 59 courses I am very happy with hitting 32% of the £20,000 figure. If you consider the bumps in the road there have been and it proves that people are so behind the campaign, despite one man's attempts to undermine and sabotage it - only making himself look bitter and foolish.

Thank you to everybody that is supporting this campaign for Dementia UK, let's keep sharing posts, spreading the word and building momentum as I am confident with your help we can hit the £20,000 target by the end of the 80 days. Of course if you haven't donated yet there is no time like the present: Together We Can Make A Difference Graham Arnold

13th May 2024

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