| Published in Sunday Independent on 13.09.2020 | A Touch of Frost |

I have tried very hard to accept the Government’s rules around social distancing and gatherings, but it feels like figures are just being plucked from the air. When scientists from three countries plus Northern Ireland – all whom are meant to be part of the UK, provided with the same scientific evidence, cannot agree on a common way to tackle the same problem, in fact have quite opposing solutions over gatherings, how can any of us take these rules seriously? Anger and frustration over socialising laws that conflict with each other, businesses failing, a significant rise in unemployment, an inferior testing service that could if efficient reduce the spread of the virus so we could experience some kind of normality again, set the tone for what I would imagine are millions of us who have lost total faith in our leadership. Anyone who dies within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test is recorded as dying of the virus. We know that this means many won’t have. I have been interested for some time in how Sweden have handled the pandemic. The Government there looked to herd immunity for a solution which meant little to no social distancing. The country saw a peak in the virus in June but now sees cases mirroring March and falling. Their economy barely affected.

Whilst diagnosed cases are increasing here the recovery rate is by percentage exceptionally high – not that we hear about this. Despite the very low rates of fatality – especially against deaths by cancer which average 450 a day, our economy is crumbling, our mental health is suffering, lives are being ruined and the Governments within the UK continue to take the same route of self-harm. When a taxi driver can thank my son for his meagre fare as all the money he had to live on that day was 50 pence, how can our leaders not recognise that they may have their priorities wrong.

Back to racing, this week Doncaster Racecourse was told by local health officials to stop spectators attending its St Leger meeting after Wednesday’s opening day. More than 2,500 spectators bought tickets for what is the world’s oldest classic race. It was due to be the first crowd at a British horse racing fixture in six months as part of the Government’s pilot scheme for sporting events. The course confirmed the remainder of the four-day event would be held without spectators.

Illustration for Touch of Frost,13.09.2020

The St Leger Stakes Race, the oldest race in the world, told to close doors to spectators

The managing director of the company who runs the course commented that ‘’It wasn’t just a blow for racing, its sport. It’s going to make it slower and harder for everyone to get back, but we have to follow the advice.” The rate of infection in Doncaster was among the lowest in the country at 10.6 per 100,000 on Wednesday, September 9th. Surely the shopping centres, restaurants, pubs and bars provided as much of a risk to the public if not more, than these undercover, closely confined venues?

The next racing pilots at Warwick and Newmarket will continue later this month but with a reduced capacity of 1,000.
Back at home one glimmer of hope that has come out of all of this is the increase in staycations. Our bus – Betty, which was featured on the television programme – Georg Clarke’s Amazing Spaces, has proven to be a real hit to holiday makers wanting to escape from the crowds. Betty who is a converted double decker bus equipped and furnished to a very high standard, sits in stunning surroundings with breath-taking views over Dartmoor. Our recent installation of a cabin which again enjoys a similar position, will be ready to rent within the month.

Finally, following a number of requests for an update, Hadden our son left the Dominican Republic after his two weeks ‘safe corridor’ period before being allowed back into the USA. He is physically well and happy and should be racing again this week. His period in the DR moved him to write about his experience in the country. This can be found in the ‘Club talks’ section at the bottom of our Frost Racing Club website’s home page.

Until we catch up again next week, think of others who may be struggling more than they show and importantly be kind to each other.

Jimmy