From rag to riches! A homecoming at Market Rasen Races

Former fan back for business...

Ed Nicholson, right, with JP McManus.

Friday’s action at Market Rasen Racecourse felt like a homecoming for Ed Nicholson.

All eight races were sponsored by Unibet, but there was more to this commercial agreement than might seem obvious.

As the head of Unibet’s racing communications and sponsorship department, Nicholson is responsible and accountable for the bookmaker’s portfolio of sponsorships, including many high-profile races, such as the Unibet Lincoln Handicap.

Nicholson’s connection to the Lincolnshire track began as a young boy as his mother spent much of her early life in a nearby town.

He became a regular racegoer and spent most Boxing Days at the course, quickly learning which trainer and jockey combinations were the ones to watch.

At the age of only seven, he was given a special photography licence by the racecourse and would continue to take pictures on racedays until he reached 16.

The images weren’t simply stashed away in a drawer or private scrapbook though, instead Nicholson used them to compile his own newspaper entitled the Market Rasen Racing Rag.

A shrewd businessman from a young age, he would photocopy the pages in his local library and sell them to his relatives so they could catch up on the latest results and preview the upcoming meetings.

In a surprising twist to the story, a copy of the ‘Market Rasen Racing Rag’ would be spotted by a pair of conceptual artists, Nina Pope and Karen Guthrie, who were so inspired by Nicholson’s work that they decided to adapt it into part of their digital re-working of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.

Nicholson’s tome would appear as their Punter’s Tale and ultimately ended up being displayed with Pope and Guthrie’s work in the Tate Modern.

Nicholson’s association with Market Rasen does not end there, however, as Dr Graham Parry, the popular racecourse doctor whose funeral in 2020 drew hundreds to line the streets of the town, was his godfather. His grandmother Ann Majorie Beckett was a friend of the racecourse, as was his grandfather, solicitor Horatio Beckett.