AN abiding memory of my father is the boxes of papers, racing form, which accompanied us on our postings abroad when my father was in the army. Racing form is the record of a horse’s performance in previous races and was used by my father to hopefully predict how they would do in their next race.

In fact, when we lived in Malta, we spent many weekends in the horse racing season at the race course in Marsa, at the Malta Racing Club. Most races were harness or trotting races, although there were always a couple of regular horse races too. My father always used to disappear off into the administrative offices and I had the idea he was the secretary there, but don’t know for certain.

His dream on retiring from the army was always to set up a betting shop, but he never did. So, when my daughter Bryony dragged me into a betting shop on Saturday to place a bet, I could feel the racing genes I must have inherited suddenly swirling through my body.

If only I had dad’s knack of picking winners, Bryony and I might have ended up in pocket rather than out of said pocket. But what fun we had in the shop. The ladies behind the desk wrongly predicted we were a couple of potentially lucrative new customers/suckers and offered a baffling range of betting possibilities. Of course we steered well clear of the favourite, Tiger Roll, the eventual winner, and went for some complicated system of picking winners by the appeal of their names. Dad would have been horrified. Although my choice, Single Farm Payment, did come in eighth, but made no money for us.

So a far better bet to make money was to go with John to the mart at Skipton to buy ewes with lambs at foot. Well that is the idea, although each year sees John tut tutting at prices which he says are always up when he is buying and down when he takes them back to sell. Since parting with most of our land we do not keep sheep to lamb. Well we haven’t for the last two years, preferring to buy them, with lambs, after some other poor farmer has gone through the trauma and sleepless nights of lambing.

But not next year apparently. We are keeping some of the lambs we bought last year to put to a tup this autumn. I am not so sure about this. I did enjoy our extended holiday in New Zealand last year which stretched over the lambing period. Is this a cunning plan to stop me planning another one?