Saturday, May 15, 2010

End of the week

Our busy week did not, I'm afraid, prove to be a successful one - but it wasn't disastrous either. It could have been disastrous, however, because the horse who, in my opinion, had the best chance of all our runners (First Pressing) came home sore from Bath, where she ran poorly. However, she's merely among the walking wounded and will bounce back, so that, fortunately, wasn't as bad as it might have been. Of the others, Batgirl didn't run well at Newmarket, but she showed plenty of speed and enthusiasm in the early stages, so I hope that we might find her better suited to shorter races; Keep Silent (pictured, grey filly) showed (to my ever-hopeful eyes, anyway) a glimmer of promise in her maiden race at Windsor; while Silken Thoughts (pictured, bay filly and yellow colours) took her debut very much in her stride at Newbury yesterday, beating a few in what is likely to prove to have been a very hot maiden race. It was lovely that she gave us cause for optimism because she has some big shoes to fill: the last horse to carry the 'yellow, dark blue hollow box' jacket which Iva is wearing in this picture was the ultra-game 7-time winner Brief Goodbye - and in fact every horse who has previously borne those colours, those chosen by our late friend Joe McCarthy and now in the possession of his daughter Larry (who, along with her mother Iris, is a share-holder in the Renewal Partnership which races Silken Thoughts), was a winner. So let's hope that this nice filly can continue that happy tradition. Incidentally, our other intended runner for this week, Hotfoot, isn't running, but her debut should merely have been postponed for a couple of weeks.

Next week we should have just the one runner, which will be Christy Ring in the bumper at Stratford tomorrow. (You will note, incidentally, that I am in the minority of Britons in being able to avoid making the mistake of thinking that the week begins on Monday: I can't say that I know the Bible nearly as well as I ought to do, but I do know it well enough to know that God made the world in six days, ie Sunday to Friday inclusive, before resting on the Sabbath, ie Saturday). I will be taking the easy way out and eschewing the trip to Stratford tomorrow, but I don't feel too guilty about that as the horse will be in very safe hands, while I will be more than happy to watch the race from the comfort of my armchair, ensuring, I hope, that I begin the day on Monday considerably less tired than I have begun the last few days. It's been a long and busy week!

We haven't actually been too busy in the stable - the problem being, of course, that, with all our runners, I've been spending as much time on the road as I have in the stable - and our tasks were further eased yesterday by the presence of a very good young jumps jockey, Joe Akehurst. Joe (pictured, on Ex Con, on the far side of Aisling and Jenny Dawson) was at the British Racing School on a conditional jockeys' course for a few days, and was kind enough to spend Friday morning helping us out before returning to his own stable (that of Gary Moore in Sussex). I was very pleased to make Joe's acquaintance because I had previously watched (and been impressed by) him riding on several occasions. He's from round here, his father Jim (the former south-eastern-based jumps jockey J. Akehurst, who is not to be confused with the current Epsom trainer J. Akehurst, son of R. Akehurst) having at one stage having been a horse-box driver and now being one of Darley's flying grooms. So I'd been aware for quite some time of what a good rider Joe is, and it was thus very good to have him here for a morning and for the three horses whom he rode to benefit from his skills. So he was very welcome -as were two other visitors whom we'd had here earlier in the week: Stewart Leadley-Brown and his nephew Stuart. Stewart is over from America on a flying visit and it's always nice when he's able to include this place on his travels around the UK as he catches up with family and friends. It proved only to be a short stay here, but hopefully his visit might inspire Ben Bhraggie (pictured) to pull his finger out and make some progress towards carrying his colours on the racecourse at some stage in the future: Ben is currently an unraced six-year-old - and I'm very keen for him not to be an unraced seven-year-old!

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