| Published in Sunday Independent on 02.08.2020 | A touch of Frost |

This week we saw crowds again starting at Goodwood allowing 5000 racegoers on the final day. The Government announced that the fixture would form part a select few events leading up to a hopeful return to normal on October 1st.
The Racecourse Association’s Chief Executive David Armstrong was quoted to say that he “welcomed the fact that horseracing is to be selected as one of the pilot events to welcome back crowds”.

The Government are looking to use the events to create protocols for other events to ensure the safety of the public when they eventually open up again.

Goodwood saw cashless betting only on site and picnic areas with people being encouraged to bring their own food and drink – although there would be food and drink outlets. The track was divided into three large zones with no movement being allowed between them. The owners’ zone was limited to just 400. Spectators were separated into eight smaller zones all of which had separate entrances and exits, creating protective ‘bubbles’ for the crowds. This meant that should a spectator later be tested positive for coronavirus, other spectators in that bubble could be traced. There was limited hospitality in suites, with boxes that would normally seat twenty, limited to just six.

It’s a long way to what we are used to at a course, but it is a huge improvement on what we have experienced – or not experienced, since March.

Back at home on Wednesday we enjoyed lunch with ex jockey – Sarah Gaisford, Nikki’s cousin and Clare Balding who had just finished a sponsored 5 kilometre walk from Shipley Bridge to Avon Dam on Dartmoor. Sarah injured her spine badly 12 years ago riding at Devon and Exeter and is now in a wheelchair. Sarah is part of a team of nine who are raising money for the IJF – Injured Jockeys’ Fund by covering 560 miles, the distance between the IJF’s three rehabilitation centres, in nine days.

Illustration for Touch of Frost,02.08.2020

Sarah Gaisford and TV Presenter Clare Balding

The 9 Lives Challenge is the brainchild of IJF beneficially Wayne Burton, who also sustained a life-changing injury just four months after Sarah, again at Exeter, breaking his back in a hurdle race. The team all affected by injuries, consist of George Baker, Lee Davies, Wayne Burton, Laura Scott, Rebecca Hewitt, Katie Watson, Ed Barratt and Sarah. They will cover the distance either by walking, pushing a wheelchair, cycling or swimming. Each of the nine have a celebrity sponsor, Sarah’s being Clare Balding. The team are updating their success via he IJF’s social media. If you would like to make a donation, please go to the www.injuredjockeys.co.uk and click on the Nine Lives Matter – Just Giving link.

It was lovely to see both Clare and Sarah. Nikki made lunch and we all sat in the garden. Clare and I reminisced as I used to ride for her dad and her mum used to look after me. Sarah also used to ride for me – and had winners as she pointed out. We hadn’t seen Clare at our home for 25 years. She had a walk around the stables and met the horses. Sarah is just amazing.

Despite her injury very little gets in her way. It really was a lovely day. Sadly, Bryony wasn’t there when Sarah and Clare came round as she gets on so well with both of them. Bryony has had an amazing few day however, with various firsts and seconds. She is on top form. We are really proud of her.

Until we catch up again next week, keep safe and importantly be kind to each other.