Allan Blackburn column

Allan Blackburn, Owner of GB Antiques Centre and Lancaster Leisure Park.
Allan Blackburn, Owner of GB Antiques Centre and Lancaster Leisure Park.

For the last few weeks, I’ve talked about the business, so it’s time to turn away from antiques for a few weeks and talk about my hobbies for a change.

My wife Gloria and I love going to the races.

Our favourite race courses are Ripon, Thirst, York and Catterick.

We go at least three times a year with friends.

Am I a betting man? I suppose so, I do like a bet but it’s the ceremony and the occasion that I like the most.

It’s all very dressy.

My favourite race is the St Wilfred’s Saturday which is the most valuable and iconic race of the season at Ripon.

It offers prize money of £70,000, is contested over six furlongs and is very competitive.

The successful owner in Saturday’s big race receives a silver trophy depicting Ripon’s Patron Saint, St. Wilfrid, mounted on horseback.

There’s quite some ceremony attached to these big races.

The ladies arrive in all their finery, we enjoy a lovely meal and it’s a real occasion.

I think it’s the prettiest race in the country.

We have lunch and then walk out onto the balcony which is fabulous – the whole race is right in front of you, and it’s right by the finishing post, so it’s an amazing view.

If you’re not so lucky to have a box, Ripon is one of a few racecourses to boast a permanent giant screen, which is ideally located opposite the main stand adding to the excitement of each race.

These sort of events are getting more and more popular with stag and hen parties now and not just restricted to the country set or the middle classes.

It’s a nice thing to be part of.

In fact for my sons’ stag party we went to Newcastle Races and I arranged it all for him.

The young ones in the party loved it because they could drink all day, whilst us oldies took the day at a much steadier pace.

The best thing is that once your there, all the group stays together – it doesn’t tail off like it would if you were going round town or to pubs and clubs.

You get your own box and it all feels rather posh.