Friday, March 30, 2007

A free lunch

That's been a real treat. I've just got back from something which supposedly doesn't exist: a free lunch. Emma and I have just been lunched courtesy of thoroughbredinternet, the site to which we both contribute a little and which we read a lot because it is THE best way of keeping abreast of what's going on in the racing and breeding world. The lunch was nominally a post-nuptualization celebration for us with Simon Thompson, the site's proprietor, and Alix Choppin, his right-hand person. We ate in Steven Saunders' bistro in Crown Walk, and it was really pleasant. An added bonus was the presence in the restaurant of two of Newmarket's most distinguished men about town, Mark McStay (who bowed to contemporary fashion trends by keeping the hood of his hooded sweat-shirt down throughout the meal) and Simon Callaghan, ensconced cosily at a table-for-two. Diligent readers of this blog might recall a rumour being spread on a previous post about McStay possibly being in line for a position with Coolmore; well, I don't want to speculate on that subject, so I will just content myself by saying that Simon's father Neville, to whom Simon is assistant trainer, has been a long-standing trainer for Michael Tabor and, more recently, for Michael Tabor and his Coolmore buddies - including training Danehill Dancer for them - and hails from Fermoy, which is just about slap bang in the middle of Coolmoreville. So whether we read anything into this clandestine luncheon get-together I'll leave to your own powers of deduction.

So that was very pleasant, as was our trip to Towcester yesterday. Mattie surprised us all by behaving impeccably before, during and after the race. And he ran well too. He was only tenth of sixteen, but it was a good tenth. The first two looked really nice prospects and came home five lengths clear of the third; third to eleventh were closely bunched, with the remainder strung out like washing. I'd imagine he'd have one more bumper run this spring - very possibly back at Towcester on the last Tuesday in April, when Lady Suffragette could also run in a mares' novice hurdle - and then have a summer out at grass. He did nothing yesterday to contradict the belief that he's a really nice long-term National Hunt prospect in the making. The only bad moment yesterday was when Sam Jones dismounted him immediately after the post. He feared that there was something amiss because the horse pulled up really quickly as soon as he eased him down, and because he was whinnying. Fortunately, the horse seems to be completely unscathed. What he wasn't to know is that it is a trait of Mattie's to ease himself down smartly after a gallop, and that his whinnying seems to be nothing more than a reflection of what a real baby he is. But that babyishness is being gradually eradicated, and yesterday's experience will have been a big step forward along the road to adulthood for the horse.

So this weekend we have a wonderful card from Nad Al Sheba to watch, plus I hope some of Slipper day at Rosehill. Now that the clocks have changed, we're not so well placed for seeing the best Australian action. When the time difference was eleven hours in Victoria and NSW, our 2.30 to 5.30 am time slot meant that we were getting the races 1.30 to 4.30 pm, which was ideal. It's now only nine hours, so that means we see whatever races are being run 11.30 to 2.30, which means the early races but probably not the feature events. Still, every race at Rosehill tomorrow will be good, so if we see even some of them it will be a treat. And the whole card from Nad Al Sheba will be a true three-line whip. And Racing UK will be the chosen medium - James Willoughby's comments (assuming he's co-presenting the show) will be the icing on the cake.


fiddlerselbow said...

What an achievement to get Mattie through the race without him eating someone.

problemwalrus said...

If Liberthine wins the National in foal and then in eight years time her offspring wins the race too will that make him/her a dual winner?