Friday, May 21, 2010


We have now joined the list of stables to contain a good stallion from the recent past. As we know, Kevin Ryan trains Hot Spark, John Gosden trained Privy Seal, John Hills trained No Mercy, Ballydoyle housed a second Yeats - and now we've got Hotfoot. Our Hotfoot is the chestnut three-year-old Desert Sun filly ex Henesey's Leg who is nearly ready to make her debut, so let's hope that she can end up as distinguished as her predecessor (who is also her great-grandfather). With this name having been granted, I couldn't resist the temptation to bring Hotfoot into the current Grey Panel on - but I'm not going to tell you how I've worked the former Gazeley Stud resident into the article, as you wouldn't need to read it then. (Not, of course, that you NEED to read it now). Anyway, the reason why I have kicked off on this tack is to explain why I have used as a headline for this piece the name of one of the great sires of the 20th century.

Not, of course, that that is the only reason: summertime has arrived, which is great! Last night was the first night this year when we left all the horses rugless and, as that decision might imply, today has been very warm from the outset. And there is, of course, no better way of letting you know how nice the weather is than by illustrating the chapter with some photographs in which the sun is shining, the sky is blue, the grass is green and the trees are greener. Heaven! There are times of the year when being here isn't much fun at all, but there are also times of the year when it's just a joy to be enjoying the natural conditions, and this week seems definitely to fall into the latter category. So long may that continue (even if some rain falling during the night-times wouldn't go amiss). The photograph at the top of the chapter, incidentally, was taken last week when, although the days were dawning brightly, they weren't dawning that warm - but the two illustrating this paragraph were both taken this week, and I think that you will agree that they sum up the joys of English late spring/early summer perfectly.

Life, of course, is rarely composed of universal pleasure, and sadly the community has, while welcoming the lovely weather, received the very sad news this week that one of the best and most popular lads in the town, Dave Goodwin, is in a coma in Addenbroke's after having been knocked off his bike by a van on Tuesday. Dave had the honour of looking after two Derby winners (Slip Anchor and Commander In Chief) during his many years with Henry Cecil, and he currently works for Jeremy Noseda. Many readers of this blog will know Dave's long-term partner Jean Bucknell, who takes tours around the town and the Heath (formerly under the guise of 'Hoofbeats', but more recently, having sold the business to the Feildens, under her own name); she and Dave have made so many friends both locally and internationally that one would like to think that the weight of collective good wishes currently heading in Dave's direction will be enough to ensure that he makes a full and swift recovery. I very much hope so anyway.

Dave Goodwin's accident has, of course, acted as a reminder of the dangers posed by traffic to anyone using the roads, be they drivers, cyclists or riders. Even apart from this accident, traffic has been a major local issue recently as D-Day looms in the battle of Hatchfield Farm, with Lord Derby's plans to create a new suburb on the northern edge of town, which would inevitably serve to make our roads ever more dangerous, about to be either ratified or rejected. Let us hope that they are rejected, and, if they are, then we will all owe a massive debt of gratitude to those who have led the campaign, with the activists on the Save Historic Newmarket committee (in particular Rachel Hood - and, although I am on the committee, I am ashamed to say that I cannot describe myself as an activist, because I'm too indolent to be one) as well as Edward Mahoney and John Morrey of Tattersalls being at the top of the list, a list which contains the names of numerous people who have donated time, effort or money. It is such a shame that this whole episode has had to happen, but I am afraid that it is a symptom of the modern world: making money is the primary motivation for all too many people. In the foreword to the lovely book on Hyperion, the old Lord Derby, who I presume was the grand-father of the current Lord Derby, writes so warmly of coming to Newmarket that I am sure that he would be turning in his grave were he to know of his descendant's plans to develop the large tract of farmland bequeathed to him on what are currently the town's outskirts - but for the current Lord Derby, the chance to turn his inheritance into a massive wad of cash is seemingly too exciting to look beyond. Very, very sad; and very, very unnecessary.

To a happier subject, we have plenty to look forward to. In the short-term, we have Anthony coming for the weekend, which will be lovely. Then from this stable we ought to have three more runners between now and the end of the month (Douchkette, Keep Silent and Extreme Conviction) and then several in June. And, of course, taking a less subjective view of the sport, June is the month of both the Derby and of Royal Ascot, two wonderful sporting occasions. Royal Ascot has been given an extra dimension of excitement in recent years thanks to the overseas raiders, and I enjoyed being able to touch upon some of the Australian and Asian sprinters when I had another enjoyable spot on At The Races' International Review show on Tuesday. So that gives us plenty of horses to keep an eye on - but you probably won't be surprised to learn that of all the horses set to compete at Royal Ascot, perhaps the one I'll be observing most keenly will be the one whose photograph illustrates this paragraph: Elzaam, the Michael Jarvis-trained Redoute's Choice two-year-old who made a winning debut at York last week. As this photograph, taken on Warren Hill two days ago, indicates, he has taken no harm from his debut, and he must surely be a live chance for what is likely to be a cracking Coventry Stakes.


Nathan said...

Summer at last John! This morning i was at the top of Notre-Dame, having basked in 35 degree highs, amidst glorious Parisien scenery over the weekend. Now that even beats the view from Emma's Desk! I hope she is jealous...

John Berry said...

Sounds idyllic Nathan. Paris is such a special city.