Do you know what makes me Really bloody angry?
Abandonments, that's what. Or more accurately, last minute abandonments of meetings when most of the crowd have already arrived or are on their way to the course. This has happened numerous times, the most recent one being the First National Gold cup Saturday at Ascot in November 2002. This particular meeting is a two day one starting on the Friday, and it was bottomless ground on the first day. Concerns were expressed for the second day of the meeting going ahead as more rain was forecast, but no inspection was scheduled. Then on the Saturday morning they decided to call a 7.30 inspection, and incredibly the course was passed fit, but they said they would take "another look". Then, predictably, the meeting was abandoned at 10.20 due to waterlogging. What an absolute bloody farce, do they seriously expect us to believe that the course was fit for racing at 7.30 after about three solid days of rain, and 2 hrs 50 minutes later it was waterlogged and unraceable - bollocks. I was intending to go to the meeting, but once the "we'll take another look" line was trotted out, I knew it would be bloody abandoned so I didn't set out.
Bearing in mind that Ascot is a very popular track, and the first race was before 1.00, and that some people (including yours truly) have to travel a fair distance to get there, it would be reasonable to assume that a good proportion of the crowd had already taken to the road when they finally decided to abandon. The reason that I knew that the meeting would be abandoned was not because I know any more about weather and ground conditions than anybody else, but because this was not the first time it has bloody well happened.
Another good example would be the Ascot festival Saturday in 2000, again the ground was heavy before the meeting after a lot of rain, and they called an early morning inspection and passed the course fit for racing. I'd booked in advance for this meeting, so after it had seemingly been given the green light, I set off towards Ascot. However, just as I was preparing to leave the M25 to join the M4 (which if you've never visited Ascot is less than ten miles from the course), it was announced on the radio that the meeting had just been abandoned. Good bloody job I had the radio on wasn't it, because the M4 was very congested due to roadworks (why do they insist on f*****g doing them whenever there's a major meeting on). If I'd fought my way through them - as plenty of people did no doubt - and finally arrived at the course only to find the meeting abandoned, I'd have been extremely pissed off.
An equally bloody annoying
example would be the Saturday before christmas in 2001 at Ascot (again).
You'd think in this day and age, with all of the technology available that they could bloody well decide whether or not a course is going to be fit for racing without waiting until a few minutes before the first race. They have people with years of experience of these situations and access to more detailed weather information than ever before, yet they still don't have a bloody clue.
I would like to state that I have nothing personal against Ascot and the fact that all of the aforementioned examples took place there is just coincidence. Late abandonments happen at plenty of courses, such as at Haydock a few years ago when the meeting was abandoned after the first race as the jockeys thought the ground was unsafe after it had passed an earlier inspection. However, Ascot is probably the course that I visit most often and it's easier to write about my own experiences than those that I've just heard or read about.