Thursday, June 24, 2010

Toby salutes

Peter Temple is not the only friend who deserves a pat on the back this week. Newmarket's newest trainer, Toby Coles, has also just posted a memorable milestone, having saddled Littlemisssunshine, his sixth runner, to become his first winner at Brighton a couple of days ago. Toby is not only Newmarket's newest trainer; he is also its most dapper. One can't see his tie in this photograph - but, believe me, it'll be there. In this picture, taken maybe three weeks ago, Toby is riding past his former workplace, Sir Mark Prescott's Heath House, from whence he proceeded to work for Ed Dunlop. He then headed overseas, to America initially I believe, but he appeared back on my radar on Cox Plate Day last October: I was watching ATR's coverage of the Cox Plate, and walking around the Moonee Valley mounting yard next to the Murray Baker-trained Nom Du Jeu was a man who looked very like Toby - and was almost well enough dressed to be Toby, which basically ruled out 99.9% of employees of Kiwi strappers. I sent Toby a message on Facebook to ask whether this man was indeed he, and sure enough it was. Nom Du Jeu's stablemates included a horse who might have been named with Toby in mind (Harris Tweed) and after that horse's Melbourne Cup preparation had been and gone, Toby headed back to the UK to get a training operation off the ground. Anyway, it's off the ground, it has its first run on the board - and let's hope that that's the first of many because Toby is a man whom I would very much like to see succeed because, in addition to being a very nice man, he is a diligent, industrious and conscientious horseman. And, as I only discovered a few weeks ago, we come from the same town, Hawick in Roxburghshire - and even attended the same primary school (Lilliesleaf). I'm amazed that I didn't previously know that, but I do vaguely remember the name of Toby's father (Bobby) as being a resident of the Borders when I lived up there (which period probably ended around the time of Toby's birth). And, funnily enough, as of last Saturday, Bobby Coles is more than just a name to me, because he appeared in the saddling boxes when we were getting Ethics Girl ready for her race at Newmarket and introduced himself, which was a very decent and friendly thing to do.
Although we probably don't really approve of concertina-ing (is it acceptable to use 'concertina' as a verb?) words together in horses' names, one has to smile at the name of Littlemisssunshine because of the wonderful film whose name she shares - and, as there are 18 letters in that name, they all have to run consecutively without any breaks if the film's name can be used for a horse. So that's fine. Which brings me conveniently on to the observation that Jonny Lesters Hair and Whipma Whopma Gate both contested the same race at Carlisle yesterday. Some people might find nothing remarkable in these names, while others may find it more of a struggle to appreciate their elegance. Beauty which nobody, though, could fail to enjoy is that which has been coming with the mornings on the Heath recently. The only pity, of course, being that one has to make quite an early start to see them at their best - but in general they are worth it! Long may this glorious summer continue.

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