The Anonymous Widower

What is a Selling Race?

Several of my friends today, have asked me to explain what a selling race is in horse racing in the UK. I did try to find an explanation on the Internet, but everything was just too technical or only gave the basic facts.

The concept is simple, in that it is basically a horse race, where the winner is sold at auction.  The auction is very little different to a typical auction at the local furniture saleroom, except that if you are the ownerof the winner, you can bid yourself.  If you succeed, you are said to have bought the horse in. Just like in the saleroom, the auctioneer or in this case the racecourse takes a proportion of the sale price.

As yesterday’s race was a stakes race, the weight the horses carry depends on their age and sex.  Free As A Lark carried eight stone four pounds as she is a three-year-old filly. The winner, Prince Apollo carried nine stone and a pound because he was a five-year-old gelding.

Other selling races are handicaps, where the better horses carry more weight according to their official rating.

So you may argue what is the purpose of a race, where if you win it, you lose the horse in the auction? Especially, as the prize money in selling races is not very good.  But then as they are the lowest level of horse racing , the entry fees are low.

I’ll give two examples of when we have run horses in sellers.

C once bought a yearling filly at the sales for just a thousand guineas, despite being extremely well-bred.  But Infant Protege, as we called her,  was very small and to put it mildly, just a tiny bit nasty, fully living up to her nickname of Sybil. We needed to get a run out of her, so that she knew what racing was supposed to be about. The trainer put her in a not-very-good selling race at Brighton with an experienced jockey who could get the best out of her. It worked and she ran properly for the first time to be third. In the end she won a race at Haydock and was second in another in quite good company. At the end of the season, she was sold at Tattersalls, for a price that gave us a small profit!

In Free As A Lark’s case, because I still own the brood mare, it would have been nice to get a win out of the filly, so that the pedigree looked better, when any other progeny are sold. There was also the subsidiary reason, that as she was in effect C’s last runner, it would have been nice for it to be a winner! But you shouldn’t let sentiment interfere.  I don’t think C would have!

There are other reasons, the biggest of which is probably betting.  If a trainer picks the race right, then the horse will have a better chance of winning. So putting a better horse in a poor selling race may almost guarantee that win.  But remember that all form and ratings are open and fully published.  So you may well get the win, but the odds would be so short, that you won’t make much money, if any!

I’ve also known that horses have been entered in sellers, because the trainer is owed money by the owner and wants to see if they can get some of their money back.

So essentially, as in many things in life, it all comes down to money!  Whether it be concerned with breeding, prize money, betting or debts!

But you have to throw in the fact that a win is a win and it is very good feeling to be a winning owner and/or a breeder.

September 23, 2010 Posted by | Sport | | 7 Comments

A Neat Station Design

I said in an earlier post that yesterday I took the train from Thirsk into York. I actually took a Grand Central train for just £2, so as they seem very affordable, if I go to York from London, I might consider them as an alternative to East Coast.

Thirsk station was a rather neat design, as this picture shows.

Thirsk Station

It is reached by an overbridge and the combined ticket office, waiting room and other sevices are all on one platform in a chalet style wood and steel building.

It seemed to be a rather practical design, as the ticket office was built into one end of the waiting room.  I suspect that this would mean that security and safety is very good. Note too the wooden safety fence to the left of the building, which separates the two high speed lines in the middle of the station from passengers on this platform. 

I would suspect that the concept could be used in many places to renew old station buildings at an affordable cost.

It was good to see the station and it goes to show that good design and safety can probably be achieved without throwing vast amounts of money at the problem.

September 23, 2010 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

The Welcome Invader from the East.

After racing yesterday, I took the train from Thirsk to York, so that I could see my old boss, who was in hospital in York.  He seemed better in some ways to when I saw him a few weeks ago, but I understand from his family he has a long way to go.  But I know he’ll do it, as he’ll find some way to pull through.  I’ll also visit him when I can, as he has been such a great support to me over the previous couple of years through my troubles and I know I must pay that back. But I’m not that good on those sorts of debts!

But as I got back from York to Cambridge for the princely sum of just £13.20, it’s not something that would worry anybody on cost grounds!

After I’d seen him in hospital, I went with his son to the local Premium Inn.  They had bottles of Aspall cyder in the bar! So over 250 years after it was first brewed in Suffolk, it finally invades Yorkshire!

I certainly needed a drink after the day I’d had!

September 23, 2010 Posted by | Food, Health, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Spammers Can’t Spell

We all know that, but I’ve just had a phishing scam purporting to be from HSBC from an e-mail of

I was curious about and whether anybody would actually want such a mispelled domain.  They don’t! So if you want it, you can have it!

It just shows how when a domain name appears odd for the company who supposedly sent the e-mail, the message is usually spam!

September 23, 2010 Posted by | Computing | , , | 6 Comments

Overuse of “Trousered” with Lawyers!

It seems these days, that you can’t read a report about the law without seeing the word trousered linked to their fees. The latest is this report on the Cambridge Busway. Here’s what they said.

But the cost of the project, which is already two years late, does not include the millions of pounds expected to be trousered by lawyers as the disputed cost-overrun moves to the High Court of Justice, in The Strand.

Sad to say though, the lawyers will be the real winners in this badly designed and managed project.

September 23, 2010 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Liverpool Get A Good Kicking from the Cobblers

There is nothing better than to see one of the big four teams of the Premier League get their come uppance from a lower league team in the Cup.

Northampton Town, a.k.a. The Cobblers, did just that yesterday when they beat Liverpool on penalties in the Carling Cup. I just wish I could think of a better headline for this post.  I also hope that Liverpool’s American owners were there to see the match!

Liverpool were not alone either, in that they were joined in their failure by Everton, Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City, Blackburn, Bolton and Sunderland and Fulham

September 23, 2010 Posted by | Sport | , | Leave a comment

Don’t Use the Cash Machines at Wetherby Services

To a coeliac, motorway services are distinctly unfriendly places with lots of overpriced poisonous-to-them food.

There is a couple of exceptions and those are the ones with say a Waitrose or an M&S Simply Food, where you can buy a salad, that  you know you can trust.

We stopped at Wetherby Services on the A1 and I bought a tuna and bean salad from the M&S there, together with some bananas and some lemonade.

I also needed some cash, but as all the cash machines would be charging me to withdraw some of my own money, I declined. I mentioned this to the lady in M&S and she said she never used them for that reason.

In the end, I got my money out at Tesco in Redcar, where they don’t charge. But it did mean taking an obstacle course through their litter-strewn car park, with cars all going against the direction signs!

If Network Rail can put up signs in Liverpool Street station, that all cash machines in the station don’t charge, then isn’t it about time, that Service Areas stopped ripping off motorists!

September 23, 2010 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

A Red Kite at Peterborough

As we drove up the A1 to Redcar, we noticed a red kite gliding above the motorway as we approached Peterborough.

It was a very good sight of a large bird in an unexpected place. As they are carrion feeders, perhaps it was looking for a tasty road-kill!

Let’s hope that in future, kites become a much commoner sight.

September 23, 2010 Posted by | World | | Leave a comment

Free As A Lark Has Been Claimed

She ran a lot better yesterday at Redcar and was second.  But as she was at fairly short odds, it wouldn’t have made you rich!

As it was a selling race and she would have been put up for auction, if she’d won, she could have been claimed as well, if you’d put up the right amount of money.

This is fact what happened, so she has now gone to a trainer in Wales.  I hope she does him proud, but she really hasn’t shown the form she did in her first couple of races.

So it’s all a really sad end, especially as her mother was C’s last purchase! But hey! That’s racing!

September 23, 2010 Posted by | Sport | | Leave a comment

Thoughts on Ticket Booking Web Sites

I’ve just been booking tickets for my trip north at the weekend.  It looks like the itinerary will be :-

Saturday 25th September

Ely (8:58) to Peterborough (9:38)/

Peterborough (9:46) to Doncaster (10:38)

Doncaster (11:07)to Scunthorpe (11:45)

Scunthorpe (17:10) to Doncaster (17:40)

Doncaster (18:34) to Newcastle (20:01) – Ticket pick-up at Doncaster

Newcastle (20:50) to Edinburgh (23:30) – It’s actually a bus!

Monday 27th September

Edinburgh (16:33) to Inverness (20:08) – Meet at Waverley Travel Centre at 16:00

Tuesday 28th September

Inverness (09:00) to Kyle of Lochalsh (11:28) Ticket pick-up at Edinburgh Waverley

Mallaig (16:05) to Fort William (17:07)

Fort William (19:50) to London Euston (07:47) Ticket pick-up at Edinburgh Waverley

I haven’t had too much trouble booking these tickets on-line. But one thing that gets to me is the nit-picking detail on many of these sites.

As an example, they always ask you to tick the Terms and Conditions box.  Does anybody not tick this box?  It should be up the other way and you should only tick it if you don’t accept them!

ScotRail‘s web site seemed to get you to put in everything twice.  But then it’s a long way up to Scotland and the Internet probably forgets what I’ve typed in last time.

I also had the usual nause about registering with ScotRail for the sleeper.  Why can’t the same registration apply for all of the TOCs?  I use the same details in them all anyway!

September 23, 2010 Posted by | Computing, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment