`I've always said I want my ashes scattered between Southwell and Wolverhampton ".Byline: Bruce Jackson Bruce Jackson is the President of the Project on Transitional Democracies Professional Positions
ARTIFICIAL surfaces have played an integral part in the life of Norma Macauley but everything about the trainer herself is 100 per cent real, from a lifelong love of horses to her forthright views.
Macauley was born into racing with a grandfather who gave his name to one of the great jockeys, but she made her way in the world with a thriving business making artificial grass surfaces.
A rival to American-owned Astroturf, the business laid the football pitches at Luton and Oldham as well as covering the road crossings at Yarmouth and Goodwood.
When the still-thriving enterprise was sold to enable her to take out a trainer's licence, it led Macauley, ironically, to make her way on the sand substitute racing circuit that is the
"I've always said I want my ashes scattered between Southwell and Wolverhampton," says the trainer, who is now well into her 70s. "I will die with my boots on!"
She still regularly drives the horsebox, saving her owners some mileage money, plying her way almost daily from her Leicestershire stables to one of the fibresand tracks.
Mark you, that is only after matching Clive Brittain Clive Brittain (born December 15, 1934) is a British race-horse trainer. He began training as an apprentice in 1949, and on his own as a licensed trainer in the early 1970s. He currently trains at Carlburg Stables in Newmarket, Suffolk. in the early-bird stakes at her
up-country stables that house
some 30 horses, ten miles from both Melton mel·ton
A heavy woolen cloth used chiefly for making overcoats and hunting jackets.
[After Melton Mowbray, an urban district of central England.] Mowbray and Grantham.
"It's a great life," she says. "It's hard work but I enjoy it. They are long days - I get up at 4.30am and get to the yard by five. If the horses are all right I get to bed at 10pm."
It is clearly a labour of love, but Macauley is not a dotty grandmother burning banknotes for the cause, even though owners get one of the best deals around with the self-sufficient stable that has its own gallop.
She says: "I upset the taxman every year because I try not to pay him anything. If it pays for the upkeep of the 52 acres, that is all I'm interested in. If that didn't happen then I would have to look at it."
Macauley traditionally comes into her own as winter bites after a frustrating frus·trate
tr.v. frus·trat·ed, frus·trat·ing, frus·trates
a. To prevent from accomplishing a purpose or fulfilling a desire; thwart: high summer when the turf tracks become too
firm and the competition too classy class·y
adj. class·i·er, class·i·est Informal
Highly stylish; elegant.
classi·ness n. .
She has gone six months through the summer without a winner before, but her annual tally is regularly nudging 30 and last year followed that trend.
Macauley, who enjoyed a
bonus at Chepstow last week when sending out her first winner over jumps for ten years with hurdler Comete du Lac, adds: "The worst time was on the turf last year because it was so firm during the summer - I only had two horses that could run on it."
She is a strong advocate for
all-weather racing in the summer - and is by no means alone in that opinion.
"I can never understand why they don't put on all-weather racing when the ground is so firm," she says. "I wasn't the only one who had horses who couldn't run on the hard ground."
ThE arrival of Regional Racing should be another boost to a trainer who has made her reputation on coaxing lost talent back at the cut-price end of the market, meaning there are more horses rated under 50 than over in her yard.
While it has given two-thirds of her stable a new lease of life - or at least the opportunity to stretch their legs - Macauley feels the image portrayed by the racing authorities has made people "treat it like we've got the plague and put a big wire fence a fence consisting of posts with strained horizontal wires, wire netting, or other wirework, between.
See also: Wire round us".
Macauley, who feels renaming it `banded racing' might avoid the stigma, summed up the public turnout for Regional Racing with another quip quip
1. A clever, witty remark often prompted by the occasion.
2. A clever, often sarcastic remark; a gibe. See Synonyms at joke.
3. A petty distinction or objection; a quibble.
4. - "if you played Russian roulette roulette (rlĕt`), game of chance popular in gambling casinos, and in a simplified form elsewhere. In gambling houses the roulette wheel is set in an oblong table. you wouldn't kill anyone".
That is why she takes issue with BHB BHB Bar Harbor, ME, USA (Airport Code)
BHB Bachelor of Human Biology
BHB Black Hat Briefing (conference)
BHB Bald Headed Bastard
BHB Block History Buffer chairman Peter Savill's assertion that Regional Racing should stand alone.
She says: "If you put two banded races on an ordinary card it wouldn't stop people going racing, but having six banded races as weak as these doesn't encourage people to come
"I've been going racing since I was born. I've been there, seen it and got the T-shirt, but people running racing today are people who were not born and brought up in racing, and that is the problem.
"The old senior stewards were steeped in racing - it was in their blood.
"My sister says the old man must be turning in his grave. Just before he died 22 years ago, at 93, he said that racing in Britain was going the wrong way."
Her father was Norman Scobie, who moved to Britain from Australia. There, his father
James was a legendary trainer who lent his name to the coining of `Scobie' Breasley, after the
then young apprentice jockey
had won a big race and told reporters that he wanted to
end up as successful as James Scobie James Scobie was a Scottish gold miner murdered at Ballarat, Victoria, Australia on 7 October 1854.
On the night of 6 October he became involved in a brawl at the Eureka Hotel, also known as Bentley's Hotel. An inquest into his death was held the same afternoon. .
Macauley recalls: "I was at Warwick a few summers ago when Scobie came up with his family and said, `meet a real Scobie'!
"My grandfather was
honoured recently in the Australian list of great trainers, and was named the sixth most famous."
Her father continued the tradition in a long career in Britain, starting at Sparsholt before taking in Whitsbury, Doncaster and finishing at Richmond, where he sent out
the Manchester November Handicap winner Torch Singer in 1963.
Norma has not let
the side down,
although despite nine children and 20 grandchildren, the racing bug has not bitten the next generation.
The likes of Annabelle Royale, Portland runner-up Farmer
Jock and prolific scorer Elton Ledger, who is in retirement at the stable, are testimony to Macauley's skill.
She has arranged for 16-race winner Bentico to go eventing with a girl who worked for her, and now the stable relies heavily on Mi Odds.
His is a typical Macauley story, as he was born because the trainer had a nomination to Sure Blade and bookmaker Gary Wiltshire was looking to breed from a broken-down jumping mare.
He has won more than pounds 50,000 this winter, showing there is more to come.
Just as there is from the genuine granny with the artificial affection.
Norma Macauley: "The people running the sport today were not born and brought up in racing, and that is the problem"