Comment: Lovingly cured ham follows a controversial start

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The first Point of the season went well. Dad’s horse finished second in a strong restricted race which the owners were very happy with.

The day did not fail to disappoint with some fabulous racing. I was pleased to see Jacqueline Coward, the Yorkshire lady champion, back in the saddle. She’s only just received her license after struggling to pass her concussion test.

Every rider sits a baseline concussion test before being allowed a license. The individual results are used as a future guide to the health of the rider. When the test is re-sat, every five years or following a serious fall, the initial result is used as an indicator and a poor result can lead to a prolonged period on the sidelines. There’s a single British Horseracing Authority doctor to deal with every jockey’s medical application in the country so the whole process can be a lengthy one, which is highly frustrating when the season’s in full swing.

Thankfully Jacqueline was cleared to ride and her first day back provided her with a winner, albeit a controversial one, for the Coniston Racing Club aboard Banny’s Lad in the Club race.

It proved a nightmare day for Judge Colin Milburn, who declared Banny’s Lad the winner in a blanket finish against Best Served Cold. Many disagreed and there was uproar afterwards, including from the beaten Cheshire trainer who always likes to make a fuss. However, there was one person stood on the trailer with a clear view of the finish line, doing a job he was experienced and capable of doing. His decision should be accepted and taken in dignity.

Tris decided it was time we ate one of his parents’ home reared ham joints last month. He was extremely proud of his efforts at curing the family pork after their pig had been butchered earlier last year. The last joint had been sat in my freezer (which keeps breaking down) for some time so it was finally unearthed, defrosted and as we were invited round for dinner, taken to my parents to cook in the Aga. Apparently the poignant smell of it cooking overpowered the house and my mother was convinced it must be off. She mentioned as much to Tris but he quickly dismissed her worries explaining it was merely the curing that made the unusually strong smell.

We arrived that evening and sat down to enjoy Mum’s roast beef and Tris’ smelly ham. Carving it up he offered it round. Mum politely took a slice. Tucking in himself he asked if she was enjoying it.

“Oh yes its lovely, thank you,” my mum replied kindly. A moment later I noticed her discreetly remove something from her mouth with a napkin, passing it under the table to the dog who wolfed it down gratefully. She assumed no-one had noticed.

“That wasn’t a mouthful of home-cured hand-reared organic pork was it Mum?” I asked across the table. There followed an undercurrent of sniggers. “Grandma!” piped up Felix. “I saw that. You gave your pork to the dog. Did you see?” With that the table erupted in hysterics, all but Tris who sat looking mortified. Mum was puce, embarrassed to be caught red-handed.

Neither were allowed to live it down for the rest of the evening. In defiance Tris took smelly ham sandwiches to work all week, although he does have an asbestos stomach. The dog was fine, but she would eat a paper bag if suspecting it to be edible.