Saturday, May 29, 2010

Good ol' Douchkette

I’ve had a busy week and so has Douchkette (pictured cantering around Bury Hill on a lovely sunny morning last Sunday). She hasn’t been able to manage a win, sadly, but she’s tried her best and she’s reached the unsaddling enclosure twice. Lingfield on Tuesday was her first outing and she ran very well to finish second in a fairly competitive seller over a mile. She did, admittedly, benefit that day from an excellent ride from Neil Callan (pictured, returning to the unsaddling enclosure on her) which means that she was possibly slightly flattered by the result, but even so a jockey can’t come without the horse, and she had to gallop well and bravely to capitalize on his assistance. Three days later Brighton (on another pleasantly sunny afternoon, as is shown by the picture below of the Gay Kelleway-trained winner Free Falling easing down after his success) was the venue in a less competitive seller over ten furlongs, a race in which it seemed that she would find it easy to be placed but hard to win, it containing a 2/1 on favourite. It was slightly disappointing that she couldn’t finish second to the winner, but her fourth place, beaten two and a half lengths, wasn’t a bad run: a length closer and she’d have finished a creditable second, which illustrates how narrow can be the margins between satisfaction and disappointment in this most competitive of sports.

So that’s been our week of competition: not unsatisfactory, but unproductive. Ah well, we can continue to live in hope! Living in hope is something we’ll be doing for some time yet with young Jack Irish, Emma’s Bertolini colt foal born at Colton Farm Stud to Desiree two or three weeks ago. When Anthony was here last weekend we took a drive up there on the Saturday afternoon for my first sighting of young Jack (and Emma’s third). Mother and son are both doin’ enormous, as you can see here. I’d like to hope that you know the derivation of Jack’s name, but possibly you don’t. If you don’t, then the best tip I can give you is that you read a few of Peter Temple’s excellent novels: Jack Irish is a very good character who appears in several of them, and we are really pleased that Peter has given Emma permission to use the name. Giving a foal a name with such a fine background is setting the bar quite high, so let’s hope that he lives up to it in the years to come. Certainly he’s started well enough, as has another foal whom I was pleased to see there, along with his mum: this chestnut colt, son of our former inmate Chilly Cracker (pictured with him) who seems to find motherhood very much to her liking, which is lovely to see as (certainly by the time she joined this stable in the twilight of her racing career) she didn’t enjoy being a racehorse. She has, incidentally, made a promising start to her second career as her first foal, who is currently a two-year-old, has been placed on his only run to date.

Aside from the horses, we’ve had several interesting characters flit across the radar over the past week or so. First to appear was our friend from Jersey, Godfray Amy, who made one of his regular visits to Newmarket. Godfray’s been coming to Newmarket for many, many years, visiting his long-standing friends Colin Casey (pictured here with Godfray – and we can only speculate what Godfray is describing to him) and Hugh Collingridge, with whom Godfray stays. It is always good to catch up with Godfray - who has owned, trained and ridden winners in his native Jersey – on his visits, and last week’s brahmafest was no exception.

If one can say (as one can) that time spent with Godfray is brahmaful, how should one describe time spent with our former apprentice Darren Williamson, aka Squeaker? I’m not sure that I know the answer to that, despite having ‘enjoyed’ his company on various occasions over the past six days, Squeaker having returned last weekend to Newmarket after his few years of jockeying in Sweden. He did rather well jockeying there, but sadly he found that the reduction of his claim from 4 kg to 3 kg (and even that seems quite an allowance for a guy to claim after he’s been riding for the best part of 15 years) after he’d ridden his tenth winner meant that his supply of rides dried up considerably. (And cynics might say that he’d reached the point where all the owners and trainers in Scandanavia knew him!). Anyway, the Squeak is back – as anyone who has been within a few miles of Newmarket at any point this week and who isn’t completely deaf will know. Luca Cumani is the lucky man charged with the task of employing him at present; and we can see Squeak here livening up Luca’s string on Monday morning. Seasoned Heath-watchers will know that the trouser part of Luca’s uniform is black jodhpurs or, more usually, black jeans – so you won’t, surely, be surprised to see Squeak pictured here forever in blue jeans. You’ve gotta love him!

A considerably more conventional jockey on the Heath this week was the excellent young jumps rider Peter Toole, who was kind enough to call in to see us on Tuesday morning on his way to the evening meeting at Huntingdon. Peter (pictured on Ethics Girl) had a couple of rides for us last winter, riding extremely well on each occasion. This season will be his first as a senior jockey, rather than a conditional, and he will inevitably find life without a claim quite tough in the short-term. However, he will just as surely weather the inevitable lull and in the long-term find himself with a great career, because he’s a very good jockey whose skill is matched by his professionalism and conscientiousness. It was good to see him this week and his help was much appreciated.

And finally I think it appropriate at this juncture to record how impressed I have been recently by one of our local young riders. Until last Saturday I’d never watched Adam Beschizza, who is apprenticed in Exning to his aunt Julia Feilden, ride. However, I watched a few races from Lingfield on At The Races last Saturday evening and, as he was riding for Jonathan Jay in one race and for Mark Rimmer in another, he was on two horses whom I was keen to observe. I’d been aware that Adam, with whose father Paul (generally known as Darkie) I worked in Ian Matthews’ stable when I first came to Newmarket in 1987, had made a promising start last winter to his race-riding career – but until I watched him ride I didn’t realize how promising this start has been. He’s very, very good and rides like a boy who has had many more rides than he has. I’ll be amazed if he doesn’t turn out to be very successful – and, unlike so many good apprentices nowadays, he ought to remain a good size for a jockey as both his parents (his mother is Julia’s sister Poppy) are small. I watched him riding again at Lingfield on Tuesday (pictured) and I am sure that he is a young jockey of whom we shall all see and hear plenty more in the future.

More immediately, I’m looking forward to watching ‘our’ jockey Iva ride at Catterick this afternoon. She’s not actually our jockey as Jane Chapple-Hyam is her principal employer, but she does so much work in this stable that we can call her our jockey. For a jockey, being a woman whom nobody has heard of but not having a claim is about as severe a triple whammy as one can get, but I hope that she’s starting to make some impression. She certainly deserves to, as she is a very, very good rider, and is as industrious as she is talented. One would think that her good ride at York last Saturday, when she was second on Jane’s old horse Saloon at 16/1 behind the 5/4 favourite, must have done her a bit of good. And, as in the UK she’s only race-ridden thus far for the two stables (Jane’s and this one), it’s now good to see her riding for a third: she rides today, rather confusingly, for a Berry. Not this one, though – A. Berry.

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