Thursday, July 15, 2010

Looking ahead

It was great to return to the winner's enclosure last weekend. Now we need to ensure that the wait before our next visit isn't so long. We've got a few runners coming up, so we can live in hope. First off will be Silken Thoughts at Lingfield on Saturday evening, while Douchkette goes to Stratford on Sunday. Jenny will be heading to Yarmouth on Monday, while Ex Con is due to run either at Bangor on Tuesday or at Uttoxeter on Thursday. And Ethics Girl goes to Sandown on Thursday. Cathy Gannon has been booked for Silken Thoughts, and Iva rides Jenny and Ethics; while over jumps William will ride Douchkette and will be on Ex Con if he runs at Uttoxeter, while Peter Toole will ride him if he runs at Bangor (in a conditional jockeys' races). It would be very hard to predict victory for Jenny, but one would hope that all the others will have some sort of chance. We'll see.

Looking farther ahead, we can anticipate the winter with extra relish thanks to the arrival of a lovely horse from last week's Tattersalls' July Sale. This is Alcalde, who has proved himself a good horse in his three seasons in Mark Johnston's stable. He's won three races and been placed a few times and I hope that he has the makings of a very nice hurdler. He's certainly by the right stallion in that respect, because the record of sons and daughters of Hernando going over jumps is extremely good, thanks to the likes of No Refuge, State Of Play, Cape Tribulation, Songe and One Gulp. If Alcalde (pictured at Tattersalls) has inherited the same lovely nature and big heart that is possessed by Ethics Girl, another Hernando four-year-old, he'll do more than alright. And if he is typical of his great Lanwades Stud family (that which has produced many distinguished other Al...s, such as Alborada and Albanova) he'll do even better. I rode him home from Tattersalls last Thursday and he was grand: he'd obviously never been through the streets of Newmarket, but he was so bold and willing that he just walked on smartly and fearlessly as if he'd been patrolling them all his life. He can have a few weeks' of relaxation first before doing anything, but one reason for being less sad when the time comes for summer to end will be that we'll have the excitement ahead of us of seeing what he can (or can't - it's always wise to temper optimism with a dash of realism) do.

Just before I close these dispatches, I ought to mention two people. Firstly, our friend Tony Morris, who is to be saluted on being a very worthy winner of the Devonshire Bronze at the recent TBA Awards Dinner, this trophy being awarded to someone who has made a very signficant contribution to British breeding. Most winners, obviously, make this contribution by breeding horses, but Tony's contribution has been to write about the horses and their breeding both eruditely and entertainingly for a long time. Tony (pictured on his birthday last year) was formerly the Sporting Life's chief bloodstock writer, and has more recently occupied a similar role in the Racing Post since that paper's inception. It would fair to say that he has both inspired and educated a generation of bloodstock enthusiasts and for that reason, while he isn't wrong very often, he was very wrong indeed when saying that he'd done nothing to deserve his honour.

The second man on my mind is another Devonian, George Windsor. Anyone who has followed racing for a while will have seen George in a winner's enclosure after a big race because he was travelling head lad during Henry Cecil's golden years. I first properly got to know George in the mid-'90s when he was head lad for Julie Cecil in Southgate Stables and when I trained in the adjacent property. He stayed in Southgate when Julie retired and Nick Littmoden moved there, but more recently he has been working for Jeremy Noseda. This year he took Awesome Act to America when he won the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct and Formosina to Ireland when he won the Railway Stakes at the Curragh. Sadly, George isn't at all well at present, but God willing he will recover. Last Saturday morning we found ourselves circling in the trees at the top of Railway Land while an ambulance collected an injured rider from the Al Bahathri, and it was plain from the length of time which the gallop was closed that the injury was serious. It transpired that George was the unfortunate victim (while his mount was even more unfortunate as he was fatally injured in the fall) but the good news which I received in the evening when I rang Jeremy's foreman Dave Bradley for news was that, although he has broken a vertebra in his neck and, I think, some ribs, George has suffered no spinal cord damage and so should in time make a complete recovery. He's obviously got a long time of pain and discomfort first, though, so all we can do is to wish him well in his convalescence.

1 comment:

problemwalrus said...

I seem to recall that Tony Morris was(still is?) a big fan of Exeter City, a football team I supprted during my university days in the seventies when they won promotion to the third division. I remember him writing about The Grecians (team's nickname for some reason)in the Sporting Life but it was his bloodstock articles that deepened my love of racing significantly.