Sunday, April 15, 2007

Aintree et al.

This blog is becoming very good in parts. The main chapters are ... um ... excellent (of course). The accompanying photographs are superb, but their attendance is abysmal, because, good though they are, they aren't here. As explained previously, the picture editor has been devoting all her attentions to the organization of the Brahma Beer Cat Grand National, but that's now over now, so perhaps ... . Some of the feedback is really good. Problemwalrus remains incisive and insightful as ever, including filling in my memory lapse over Royal Atalza and giving us on-the-spot reaction to Aintree's new edifice. And the Lemon is superb: Pennsylvania Derby, that's great, exactly the sort of response I was looking for. Other contributors have been less specific: it's no good telling us that Linda Jones might have ridden a Derby winner. We can work that out for ourselves; we need details, a definite yes or no. For example: Kim Clapperton - 1992 Perak Derby - Ultraman II. That's the sort of stuff we're looking for.

As regards racing facts and figures, the mighty Karasi gave us plenty to be getting on with yesterday. Oldest horse ever to win a race in Japan etc. Yes, that's the same Karasi whom Walter Swinburn rode this week nine years ago, running unplaced in the Wood Ditton. How many other horses who ran at that meeting are still showing world-class form nine years later? It's a terrible thing to say, but one has to admit that three Nakayama Grand Jumps in a row is so sensational that it should have knocked the Grand National off the front page of the Racing Post today. But, of course, it didn't. So I'll make up for that lapse by calling for three cheers for Karasi - and his connections - here.

The Nakayama Grand Jump was the one notable absence from what was a pretty hectic racing schedule yesterday. ATR overnight gave us the first six races from Randwick, so we had two of the four Group Ones, which wasn't perfect but was still really good. Then we had hours and hours of the BBC in the afternoon, most of the Grand National coverage on which was excellent; we could, of course, done without such features as the Scouse poet and the celebrity interviews, but in the era of dumbing down one has to say that the coverage remains at least as good as one could expect. And we also had, sort of, the other Grand National, a report of which is contained in Emma's blog. And if you don't believe it took place, all you've got to do is use your imagination and, lo and behold, there it is. The only shame, of course, is that none of this great racing involved us (feline GN excepted), but, perhaps, one day ... .

The nearest we got to the thrills and spills of Aintree, sadly, came via a rather unpleasant incident in the stable in the morning. Our very welcome Saturday riders Andrew and Philip came down from London for the morning, and for second lot I genuinely believed that I was sending Andrew out for a straightforward and pleasant amble around the Heath on a youngster who shall remain nameless. She'd been so good recently that when Andrew told me that she had been very fiery while being tacked up, I didn't take this as seriously as I should have done. So what ensued was - well, it was actually one of two things. Here are two scenarios. Either Andrew got on this very quiet horse who strolled down the yard and he just fell off. Or I legged him up onto her, she walked down very tensely while I was leading her, and then once I'd let go she took off bucking wildly - except that he sat tight for buck after buck, until it became plain that she really was going to keep bucking until he was off, and so he eventually came off with a horrible fall onto the tarmac - but, in a most impressive feat of courage and resilience, bounced straight back up and declared himself fit to be legged back aboard. Anyway, one of these two things happened and, rather like in a book such as 'Atonement' or 'The Life Of Pi', I'll leave it to the reader to work out what really did take place. (Clue - one of these things happened, while the second version is what Philip told me that I should put on the blog instead of the real course of events). So that was rather distressing. I hate it when someone has a fall, because I always feel I've let the rider down if I put him on something that isn't safe (admittedly I never used to feel this way in the Squeak era, because his falls were so frequent that one just got used to them; and his falling off usually didn't actually mean that the horse wasn't safe). Fortunately Andrew seemed physically and mentally unaffected by the fall, which only goes to show he's a lot tougher and braver than I am. That drama aside, it was a fairly unremarkable morning, typical of the current conditions by being foggy early and warm and sunny from mid-morning onwards, and it contained another reminder that if Brief Goodbye doesn't run well next Saturday, it will be hard to be optimistic about the immediate future.

We had By Storm run in the week, as mentioned previously. Her run wasn't particularly good, but it wasn't particularly bad either. She is what she is - a very small horse who has won a selling handicap off a light weight - but she's sound and genuine, and I wouldn't give up hope of her doubling her winning tally at some point. Friday wasn't her day, but she'll have other chances. Possibly the highlight of the trip was, apart from the nice weather and how uninterrupted by traffic the journey was, enjoying the final parts of the audio version of 'The Rum Diaries' by Hunter S. Thompson. I'd picked this four-tape saga up in the Heart Foundation shop a few weeks ago, and it has given us several hours of car-bound pleasure. The abridged book was very well read by an American I'd never heard of, and it made for excellent entertainment. Another recent Heart Foundation shop acquisition has been a John le Carre - it had been three or four years since I last read one, which was probably 'The Little Drummer Girl', and I felt it was time for another - so I'm now engrossed in 'A Perfect Spy', which will keep me quiet for a while. Having just whizzed through two excellent John Francome novels, this will slow me up somewhat.


The Lemon said...

how can we forget that there are 2 female derby winners from the same family, Sara and Francesca Cumani both winners of the Ladies Derby at Bath, Sara in 2003 and Francesca 2005 on Idealistic

Fiddling The Facts said...

I once won a Donkey Derby in Old Windsor. Does that count?

The Other Lemon said...

can we include a finish - or even coming under oders in the Newmarket Town Plate a worthwhile enough achievement for this site?(I recall great pride in one contestant's appearance on that day last year as reported so comphrehensively on the site at the time)