by John Ghent
The UK taste buds have long been influenced by foreign food, from Chinese to Indian, Mexican to Thai; the good old British Sunday roast now competes against a mass of other options to satisfy our indulgent selves. So why then has International racing never quite hit the spot in the UK, and more specifically north of Milton Keynes?
The distance certainly is not a problem, you only had to look at some of the distances flown from the Tarbes Grand National to see that fanciers out there are quite capable of competing against the southerners in the biggest events. Denney, Emerton, Gordon, Woolliss, the Bush brothers and that is just off the top of my head - apologies if I have missed anyone out. So what is it then?
Although I have been told that this is not the case I must confess I see no other reason than the marking station issue, but which comes first, the pigeon or the egg? The committees will say, and I can see their point, "Well there's no interest up there, so it won't get supported." Problem is the NFC seem to do pretty well in Section K and Section L so that sort of banishes that idea, so again I ask, what is it?
Too many "national" clubs could be one reason, and that I would certainly agree with. The Midlands National is a strong organisation, which could be stronger if it allied itself with one of the big countywide national clubs. The Blue Riband race of Bordeaux attracts around 1,200 birds. Why this could not be flown in conjunction with the Bordeaux International I am not sure, although there is actually probably no reason at all why it could not be, it is just the committee and the club choose not to.
I am a self confessed fussy eater but once I had tried Indian food I never looked back, just took me a while to get there! I love it so much that my wedding reception is being held at an Indian restaurant next year, so could it be that us midlanders and northerners just haven't developed a taste for it yet? Surely we are not scared of racing against the south coast lot, we have our own sections anyway so don't worry about the Open result, just worry about yourself. But, if you were to at least able to compete against the south coast, maybe, just maybe, you would get a taste for it, and one good Open position would have you converted for life!
Logistics is always the issue. I am passionate about this, as many of you will know, and I am damn sure that there are at least 5 other people somewhere north of me that are equally as passionate; I probably know of at least 3 or 4 myself. So, my proposition is simple, let's all sit down together, hammer out the logistics and give it a go for one season. Still keep the clubs' own identities (MNFC/NFC/BICC/BBC) but have an Open result including all the organisations. My thoughts would be that we all go to two races on the same weekend in one season, Pau International and Bordeaux International. Both are consistently flown by numerous organisations so we know there is no issue there, and they have proved winnable across the UK many times.
I have been very relaxed in my approach to previous articles but the time for action is now, in the off season. I am requesting that the secretaries of all 4 of these organisations get in touch with me. I will be the mediator. I have no allegiances. I currently belong to none of the aforementioned clubs, therefore all I want to do is help the sport in this country at national level. There is a hidden majority that want this to happen, I can assure you, and once this hidden majority make themselves known in the coming years, which they will, you can rest assured that things will then change. You may as well embrace it now because it is coming. If it's the last thing I do I will make it happen.
As always, views and thoughts to me.
83, Newport Street