SANTA ANITA’S INDEFATIGABLE JOHN SHEAR TO CELEBRATE 98TH BIRTHDAY ON THURSDAY; PADDOCK CAPTAIN STILL MAN’S HIS POST EACH RACING DAYARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 13, 2019)–Arguably the youngest “old” man on earth, Santa Anita’s beloved Paddock Captain John Shear will celebrate his 98th birthday on Thursday in predictable fashion, by punching his time clock and settling in for yet another day of managing human and equine traffic in Santa Anita’s picturesque Paddock Gardens.Employed at The Great Race Place for nearly six decades, Shear, who was born in London and originally aspired to be a jockey, immigrated to Vancouver, B.C. following World War II and then came to Southern California in 1954.“I was exercising horses for a guy in Vancouver and he asked me if I’d like to go with him to Santa Anita that fall,” said Shear. “I said ‘sure,’ and as soon as I stepped off that van in the Stable Area here, I said ‘Lord, this is where I want to be.’ The place was so incredibly beautiful and I’ve never gotten tired of it.”A diminutive four feet, 11 inches, Shear weighs 104 pounds and attributes lifestyle, attitude and exercise as the primary reasons for his incredibly vigorous life.“I still do 30 pushups every morning. I do deep breathing exercises and I’ve got a stationary bike for my legs. I do a lot of walking here at work and at home…I walk my dog every day and I love what I do.”When asked what he thinks of a world in which seemingly everyone is continuously glued to an electronic device of one kind or another, he responded:“The world changes. My wife is on the computer all day, and I can’t say anything about it!”Shear, who sustained life threatening injuries resulting from an act of heroism eight years ago in which he threw himself between a 5-year-old girl and an on-rushing loose horse, has no thoughts of retiring from the job he loves.“I can’t imagine retirement,” he said. “Every day is a blessing and I love everything about this job…The people, the horses, jockeys, the trainers and everyone I work with. I hope it never ends.”And wouldn’t that be something.
France Tourism Development Agency, Atout France, under the high patronage of the Ambassador of France to India had recently organised the annual Ambassador’s Travel Awards Soirée at the exclusive Chambers Terrace at the Taj Mahal Palace and Towers in Mumbai. The awards aimed at further strengthening France’s ties with the Indian travel fraternity and encourage their endeavours in showcasing France as a premier tourism destination.France and its capital welcomed the highest number of tourists in the world, with 84 million visiting in 2015. It was France and its capital welcomed the highest number of tourists in the world, with 84 million visiting in 2015. It was also a leading outbound destination for the Indian traveller, with half a million Indians visiting France as their holiday destination in 2015.The Ambassador’s Travel Awards, which was launched in the form of a contest in October 2016, invited travel agencies to submit their published travel itineraries showcasing France as either a standalone destination or included a minimum four night stay in the country. Close to 100 itineraries were received, out of which 15 were shortlisted and judged by an eminent panel of jury members, including His Excellency Ambassador of France to India, Alexandre Ziegler. A selection of six winners was then made with awards divided into the following categories:1. Best Promotion of France through Travel Itineraries –• Platinum Award: Best Showcase of France as an Experiential Travel Destination; Winner – Destination Globe• Diamond Award – Best Showcase of France as a Family-friendly Destination; Winner – Sol Trips• Gold Award – Best Showcase of France as an Incentive Destination; Winner – Blue Moon Travels Pvt Ltd2. Exemplary Achievements in Visa Issuances-• Diamond Award – Thomas Cook India Ltd for registering the highest number of visa deliverances.• Gold Award – Cox and Kings Ltd for registering the best growth in French visa issuances.This year’s edition also had a special award for the recipient of the 1,50,000th French Schengen visa, who won a stay in France as a family. The lucky recipient was Usha Nadar and her family. Nadar and her family will travel on Air France and will enjoy a seven-night/eight-day stay in France in Paris, the Hauts de France and the Pays de la Loire regions courtesy Accor Group of Hotels. Sheetal Munshaw, Director, Atout France India, shared her thoughts, “This dynamic initiative endorsed by our Ambassador has given an impetus to our efforts of showcasing France as a leading travel destination. We believe these awards will further reinforce France’s positioning as a preferred destination across segments and will motivate our travel industry partners to create many more innovative handcrafted French travel experiences for their clientele.”