Thursday, April 12, 2007

Storming away

Great excitement. We have our first runner of the new season (ie the season proper, as one would say, which began on Lincoln Day - I don't really know if it's correct to call it the turf season as for large parts of it the turf races seems to be in a minority - perhaps we could call it the sand 'n' turf season) tomorrow, when By Storm steps out at Folkestone. That's bad planning really, having a runner during the Grand National week, but we'll still be able to be by the television this afternoon and on Saturday afternoon (the most important). The other bad piece of planning (in my defence, she should have run at Warwick on Monday, but she was eliminated) is being the other side of London on a Friday afternoon, as getting home can take a while, although very often this is worse in the anticipation than the event. No doubt Probemwalrus will be pleased to know that we should be home by 9pm, when Ray LaMontagne appears in concert on BBC4, although I have to admit that I'd be lying if I said that I was planning to watch the entire show. Whether I'll want to watch a replay of By Storm's race in the evening will depend on how she runs, and I can't be too certain how she will go: she seems in good form, but she may not be good enough outside selling class, even with a light weight. Tomorrow should be informative.

She will, of course, be our first runner of the new season, but our second of the week, courtesy of Lady Suffragette having run over jumps on Sunday. That was a lovely day. She still showed her inexperience through the race, but ran well to finish third despite doing a few things wrong, so that's very pleasing. I was so proud of her, and a photograph of her on the news page (I've put up a piece pointing out that there are shares available in her in case anyone fancies the idea of being involved in a genuine and durable horse who should be able to continue to run regularly and creditably - touch wood - on the flat and over jumps) should make it clear why I've been saying for a while that she is in great condition. Her genuineness matches her appearance, and she's just a joy. Tom Greenway again rode her extremely well, and he must take a fair bit of credit for the fact that she is developing into a very satisfactory hurdler. It was a lovely outing all round, taking a nice horse to a nice place in nice weather, and seeing nice people there - including Colin Casey (pictured with travelling head dogs), our ageless 'racing manager' whom we took with us. (That sentence alone would be enough to make one fail an English O-level). One notable aspect of the day was that were two interesting jockey bookings in the bumper, which took place after we'd left. Vince Slattery, possibly Britain's most popular hoop, had his first ride since being badly injured in a fall (riding homework rather than in a race) in the middle of last year, and Pat "Shorty" Leech stunned me by having his name in the racecard. I noticed his birthday in the paper a couple of weeks ago, and I think he's 44. Older readers (I say venerably) may remember him as a leading up-and-coming jumps hoop in Ireland in the early to mid '80s, and may remember him disappearing of the face of the earth soon after that. And there he was! He rode a horse for Phil McEntee in the bumper. It seems he'd ridden her in her previous bumper in December (when she was trained by Jeff Pearce) but I'm told his most recent ride prior to that was ten years ago; but I'd venture to suggest it would be longer ago than that. He's been in Newmarket for a few years now, being employed for spells by various Hamilton Road trainers (the late David Cosgrove, Geoff Huffer, Conrad Allen etc) and I recall him riding out regularly the Terry Ramsden-owned grey horse which Geoff ran in the Grand National three or four years ago whose name I can't remember. But race-riding: that's remarkable. How many jumps hoops go over ten years between rides? Neither horse was placed, but Vince's mount is perhaps worth noting for sentimental reasons, despite finishing last on her belated debut: a six-year-old trained by David Bridgewater for his mother Mary, she's by Commanche Run from Winnie The Witch, who was trained by David's late father Ken and ridden to victory in the County Hurdle by David. It would be nice to see her do well.

If our trip to Towcester was the highlight of Sunday, the highlight of Tuesday was our pedigree club meeting at which Will Edmeades was the guest. The gatherings which Leslie Harrison used to host for us every week are now less frequent, but they are still continuing, Ruth is still making us very welcome in Leslie's studio, and they have taken on an extra dimension of specialness. Will was one of Leslie's closest friends, and on Tuesday evening he was kind enough to come to talk to us and to stimulate discussion, using the pedigrees of the Barnett family mares, which he manages, as the catalyst. This was a great trip down memory lane as we touched upon some wonderful horses, briefly running through the family's horses earlier in the 20th century before having a detailed look from High Line (a cracking stayer of the early '70s, trained by the late Derrick Candy, whose grand-daughter Emma is one of our number) to the present day, and including such greats as Time Charter, Master Willie, Nicholas Bill, Quay Line and Pure Grain. It was a thoroughly pleasant evening. Will is quite a quiet, unassuming man, and I'm sure that chairing a meeting wouldn't be his idea of the perfect evening, but he couldn't have done a better job of it, and his kindness was much appreciated. This was the second such gathering since Leslie's death, the first having been compered by Luca Cumani, who gave us a great insight into his views on bloodstock and related topics. That turned out to be quite a late night (ie post 10pm), because Luca was on fire, and we all just lost track of time. One interesting point Luca made was that, having sold Alexandrova's dam Shouk the year before Alexandrova was conceived, this wasn't the case of the one which got away: he said that he and Sara would never have stumped up the quarter million or whatever it is to send Shouk to Sadler's Wells, so Alexandrova would just never have existed, but as it is they now own several sisters to the dam of a triple Oaks winner, which wouldn't have happened if they hadn't sold Shouk.

On that subject, incidentally, best wishes to Sara who is currently nursing two cracked vertebrae after a fall off a very troublesome colt at the bottom of Warren Hill on Monday morning. We saw the ambulance there, and it was sad to hear subsequently that Sara was the victim. It sounds as if she is already on the road to recovery, but she's obviousy going to be in a lot of discomfort for a few weeks. As is Tony Culhane, following his horrible fall at Wolverhampton last week in a weird race: it was a three-year-old seller in which three of the four declared runners were trained by Mickey Quinn. As it was, one of Mickey's horses was scratched (one might have guessed that in advance with his large apprentice Chris Cavanagh down to ride it at the unfeasibly light weight of eight stone), leaving two of his opposed by one of David Chapman's. And that didn't get round, giving Tony Culhane a horrible fall and leaving all the finishers to come from the same stable, which doesn't happen in too many flat races. I read that Dale Gibson booked into a hotel in Wolverhampton that night so that he could be there to take Tony home from the hospital the next day, which was typically decent of him, so good on 'im, and best wishes to Tony too, a very likeable jockey as well as a very good one, who now faces a long spell on the sidelines with (I think) some fractured vertebrae too. A happier sight this week was Kieren Fallon riding out for Michael Stoute. Like Tony Culhane a very likeable jockey as well as a controversial one, Kieren looked fit and well and it was good to see him keeping himself busy during his time out for bad behaviour. The devil finds work for idle hands, so one's got to keep doing something - or else start one's own blog.

I must apologise for the lack of photographs on my most recent blogs. Unfortunately the picture editor is currently focussing all her attention on organising the Brahma Beer Cat Grand National so, while she has been very on the ball with putting the pictures up on her site in advance of the Exeter Road feline spectacular, this section has been left pictureless. We've got a few to illustrate each of the past three chapters, so let's hope we can see some soon. In the meantime, we'll just continue our promising maiden watch, and conclude that maidens don't come much classier than the Coolmore Spartacus (3yo) Maiden (8.7 furlongs) at Cork on Monday. In this, Chariots Of Fire, trained by David Wachman for Michael Tabor, beat Sorolla, trained by Aidan O'Brien for Wachman's mother-in-law Mrs John Magnier, by a short-head, with five lengths back to the Kevin Prendergast-trained third. Chariots Of Fire is a Galileo half-brother to Damson, Sorolla a Danehill half-brother to Orpen. So that's a good result for the sponsors, who have had Choisir (with two winners, including in the Coolmore Choisir Maiden Stakes at Cork) and Catcher In The Rye (today) get off the mark in the past week. But best result of the week has to be the success of Ka Lam Fortune in the Macau Derby on Sunday, on whom the excellent Lisa Jones deservedly added her name to the select list of female jockeys to have tasted Derby success worldwide. (Have there been any others? I'm sure there must have been somewhere, but can't think when and where - so if you can, please post up a reply at the bottom, and we'll see what we can come up with).


The Lemon said...

the only other female jockey i know of to win a Derby was Andrea Seefeldt winner of the Pennsylvanian Derby in 1991 on Valley Crossing

statoman said...

I wouldn't be surprised if it has happened in New Zealand with the likes of Linda Jones, and maybe if we searched hard enough one might find Katherine Kircos in the winners circle of a local derby in the Australian high-country.
PS: you ought to try and recruit your Winning Post colleagues Kneebone, Barker, Marshall, Lyne, Richards, Hounsell, Kneebone(NZ), Callendar and Higgins to fill a share in Lady Suffragette - racing in amended the West Tips colours of course.

The Other Lemon said...

maybe a sheila will claim honours in the inaugral Brahma Beer Cat Grand National today.
I also would like to see a video to this feline spectacular. Do hope we at least get some decent pics onsite with official placings, dividends, presentation etc

Fiddling The Facts said...

Surely Lisa Cropp has won a Derby?

the other lemon said...

Surely she was also scaremongering to or inciting the stewards that she won it on her merits unassisted by 'aids'

problemwalrus said...

The grey horse was I think Royal Atalza.
Have just returned from Aintree.At last a grandstand that really looks like its been designed with the customer in mind.It looks half bamboo hut, half spaceship and the view down the line of fences to Bechers Brook is outstanding.

Fiddling The Facts said...

Looks a damn site better than Ascot, that's for sure. Still contemplating whether or not to head back to the Royal meeting this year.