Thursday, October 26, 2006

Comings and goings

I see it's six days since I was last on here, but it seems a lot more than that. Since then we've had a couple of new readers: John McNamara and Claude Wathen-Berry. The former even claims to have enjoyed reading the blog! I'm enjoying the banter about favourite racing memories (although we could do with some back-up for the few correspondents who are kindly sharing their special memories) and John has thrown Noblesse's win in the Observer Gold Cup into the mix. I also remember his telling me once that Nijinsky was going round when he was first starting to follow the horses, and that that equine god was responsible for his addiction. If anyone can't understand why, just watch the wonderful film they made of him. The closing close-up slo-mo shots of him and Lester galloping across Newmarket Heath (no running rails on most of the Rowley Mile in those days) in the Champion Stakes are pure magic - and the fact that one knows he's about to be beaten doesn't spoil it at all. A wonderfully moving tribute to a great horse.

We had a wonderfully moving moment too this week (sublime to ...) when Lady Suffragette ran a wonderful race at Kempton. Brett has been a really lucky jockey for this stable - several winners from only a handful of rides - and he and dear little Lady nearly pulled it off. The filly is thriving under Aisling's loving handling and I hope that this run was only a precursor to better things. The Racing Post, for once (thanks to Geoff Leicester (sic)) summed it up well: "However, one had to feel some sympathy for Lady Suffragette, who was given a smashing ride and, having hit the front early in the straight, beat off all-comers, only to be swallowed up in the dying strides". It was really exciting.

We've also had several movements. Dear Joli has moved on today. He's gone to race in Kuwait and, while we spoke to his new trainer after the sale and he seems a sensible and professional horseman, one does worry for horses when they head away. However, it is wrong to believe that standards of care need be worse for not being in the UK, and no horse's future wellbeing is guaranteed wherever he goes.

About 90 minutes before Joli walked around Tattersalls' ring, Belle Annie was doing so. She's our newest recruit, subsequent to my signing the docket for 5,500 gns. Interesting pedigree. By Aptitude (by A P Indy ex Northern Dancer mare) from a Grade Three-winning Most Welcome mare, from a Great Nephew mare. She's a tall, quite backward, unraced two-year-old. Philip Mitchell bought her in US last year, has looked after her well and given her time to mature, but unfortunately for him her owner has bailed out. I felt a bit sad at being the potential beneficiary of Philip's misfortune as he's a real decent guy, but if I hadn't bought her someone else would have done: I checked with him before the sale that he wasn't going to be bidding, because if he had been going to try to buy her back to stay within his stable, then I wouldn't have bid. This rather taking filly will race for Dave Huelin and myself; we've enjoyed racing horses together in the past and have been lucky enough to see them all win at least once, so let's hope that she can keep things going. She'll be off to benefit from the green, green grass of horse heaven first, though.

Horse heaven is, of course, chez Kerry, whither Jill, Brief plus two yearling fillies (Diktat and Helissio) headed on Wednesday. It's a fair guess that those horses are pretty happy with life just now. The two yearlings are both broken and have had a few rides around, so they shouldn't forget how to conduct themselves during their holiday. They were both easy to break, which is a relief. Helissio only had a few rides, but I headed off down the horsewalk on her the morning before she left, and things went well. She's a lovely horse. We received a very kind postcard (the picture being the Charles Church painting of her Gold Cup-winning uncle Celeric) from her breeder Christopher Spence this morning, wishing us luck. I hope I will be able to give him positive bulletins about her progress in the years to come.

We've got Millyjean making her debut tomorrow. She ought to go down and back satisfactorily. I don't know who will be more green, she or her partner Michael Murphy, although I suspect it will be the latter. People who've been studying the lower tiers of racing for a while might remember Michael's father Mick, who was a jumps jockey in the north, mainly in Middleham, in the '70s. He rode as one of Neville Crump's jockekys for a while, and the Steve Nesbitt-trained Red Earl might have been his best mount. He also trained near Bury-St-Edmunds for a year or so about 15 years ago. He asked me if I could sort out a ride for Michael, who is a nice lad and used to ride out here occasionally when he was still at school and who is now apprenticed to Luca Cumani. Michael's got a lot to learn if he's going to become the horseman that his father is, but one's got to start somewhere, so hopefully an outing at Newmarket will help him along the way and he won't let us down.

It's been a long day and the next three promise to be busy as we prepare for blast-off. My brain is everywhere: trying to make myself completely au-fait with the Australian form so that we can appreciate it to the full when we're there, trying to concentrate on the great jumps racing here so that I can compile before departure a competition-winning 12-to-follow list, and most importantly trying to do the 10,001 things I must do before we leave. I'm bound to forget no end of things, so all I can do is hope that the things I do forget are only minor ones. (I mustn't forget to make the declarations for Sunday - so that they can be eliminated - in the morning, having forgotten to make them this arvo). One thing I don't need to do is to think up a horse for the list to win the Bula Hurdle - aaagh, War 'N' Place, that's just wrong - but what about the Mildmay/Cazalet disappearing act - oh dear, oh dear, oh dear, history doesn't matter. Just as well we'll be heading out to the country where this Saturday the big race is still the good old W.S.Cox Plate. Not the Winning Post Quaich (yet). I did have a large framed photo of my favourite Cox Plate winner Surfer's Paradise coming home ahead of Super Impose in 1991 on the wall of this room where I'm now typing, but it doesn't seem to be here any more. Where it was there now rests a framed snapshot of some vaguely familiar-looking sheilas 'having a mighty time' together. I wonder who could have made the switch. Answers on a postcard, please.


Stato-man said...

1001 things I have to do before the Wath and Emma arrive (abbreviated version!)

*tidy up flat (can't expect Emma to muck-out this place as well as BHS)
* ensure adequate supplies of cherry ripes and after eights
* make up room for the Waths inc fresh bunch of (Keysborough)roses on dressing table
* buy another bottle of Baileys for the expected over-consumption of hot chocolate
* ring Sport 927 producer to ensure that the Waths gets some airtime out here
* ditto TVN producer
* remember to get Wath's press kit so he will be able to hob-knob with all the dignatories on Derby day.
* make sure layouts of pages and ad placements of next three issues are all completed
* sell last quarter page in breeding for Derby edition
* sell last colour ad for Melb Cup edition
* annoy Tony Kneebone and John Barker by changing layout of pages after they have run-in all the editorials on their busiest week of the year
* Text KYWC to remind her to get her copy for the breeders' cup preview in on time
* chase copy for last ads for Tony's "This Racing Year 2006" book due in by Thursday.
* get out old Blind Date video as Wath is sure to want to impress Emma how he set this all up.
* ditto videos os Statistician and scrap-book cuttings when Wath entered him for his third consecutive Dubai world cup (probably still a record)
* collect pedestrian passes for guests in the nursery carpark on Cup day
* confirm and pay for booking for special restaurant at secret location for the Waths' last night in Melbourne on Nov 8th
* contact Joff to see if he is bringing a sheila along
* ring Claude Wathen-Berry to congratulate him on his entry in the BHS website and to inform him to expect a call from us all in the carpark on Melb Cup day
* ditto John and Terri Mc Namara
*contact Freedmans to see if we can arrange for the Waths to visit Markdel and inspect Monsam
* confirm arrangements with Clive and Glenda Bullen for brahmafest
* organise an evening with Winning Post staff for a few bundies at the pub
* check car insurance policy to ensure I am covered for likely claim resulting from the Wath over-achieveing whilst lairising behind the wheel in my absence
* make sure to get a set of keys cut for the Waths so they aren't locked out of the flat and end up sleeping on the training tracks at Caulfield before getting bowled over by horses exercising in the dark the next morning.

Kentucky Wildcat said...

Dear all at BHS,

Sorry i have been such a slacker - this is the first time I have been on the site for well over a month. I guess the sales have taken the WildCat side of me. I am pleased to see the Wath's horses have been running well.

I hope John and Emma have an excellent time in Australia. Talking of Australia - I am going over to work the Magic Millions and NZ Karaka sale for Gai Waterhouse ! So i can be an Aussie Wild Cat for a couple of months.

Watch out for the KYWC down-under in December!

Looking forwards to hearing all about the Melbourne Cup.


gerrysfanclub said...

Many thanks to Milly'sfanclub on at.Especially Ciff.What a diamond!

Stato-man said...


Happy to advise that the mighty couple have arrived safely and enjoyed a welcoming glass of Pol Roger (vintage) and are just bunking down to sleep off their last 26 hours.
Let the brahmas begin...