Life is a Cabaret.

In Cheltenham, at this time of year, there is a buzz in the air, the parks are neat, with spring bloom and on  the dual carriageways entering the town, daffodils make a show on the grass verges.

The shops are spruced up with eye-catching window-displays; none more so than this one:

There is a spring in the step, because we are less than a week away from the annual Cheltenham National Hunt Festival; with its usual invasion of the Irish  from across the water.

Even the  trainers are  'putting on the style,' tidying their yards up.

This year, is particularly important, because, the Festival opening day, Tuesday 15th March, marks the centenary of racing at Cheltenham ( 1911- 2011 ). To celebrate this occasion, a large number of bowler hats are to be given away.

"A Dark horse, which had never been thought of,  and which the careless St. James had never even observed in the list, rushed past the grand stand in sweeping triumph."
Benjamin Disraeli (1804 - 1881 )

I must have seen hundreds of horse races, both on television and live at racecourses; but the one race I look forward to every year is The Champion Hurdle, which is the star event on the Tuesday, the first day of the Festival.

Given, reasonable ground conditions, these equine athletes, trained to the minute and gleaming with health, line up to race at great speed over eight hurdles for the minimum distance of two miles. There is no time for errors; each jockey must adhere to his/her plan, according to the merits of their mounts.

In some ways a race, such as the above, can be considered as a microcosm of our lives.

We all start level, and as the race progresses our abilities 'kick in'. Some will try to assume leadership, others will hang back and wait  to make a forward run; others will fall back, unable to keep up with the pace; whilst others, perhaps because of health issues, will not be able to compete to the finish.

We all have to make judgement calls, whether to take risks, to make decisive moves, or choose to sit it out and wait to try and come through at the end. In the race opportunities beckon for us: will we be emboldened to seize them or not?

Welcome to the race of life: enjoy the festival.



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