Sunday, July 04, 2010

Strange street

Ethics Girl didn't win at Leicester yesterday, but (predictably!) I was very pleased by her run. She ran a good second, beaten on merit but displaying plenty of merit herself. She's such a lovely tough professional (as I think is shown by the look of determination on her face in this photograph as she comes back in off the track after the race) that taking her to the races is always a pleasure. And Iva rode her perfectly, which was great because it's always easy to accept finishing second if one is clearly just beaten by a better horse; harder to swallow if one feels that one might have had the superior animal, but the inferior jockey. Not, of course, that, viewing all a horse's qualities and not simply his/her ability in the narrower sense of the word, I would contend that there are many horses superior to Ethics Girl, of whom I think the world, but I would have to concede that the mare, Bollin Dolly, who beat us yesterday is probably in her own right similarly special. Her owner/breeder Sir Neil Westbrook must be ever so proud of her because her victories over the past couple of seasons place her in an elite band of mares who have won races after having had a foal. And what was particularly nice about Bollin Dolly's win yesterday was that it came a couple of weeks after her foal (who is now two and named Bollin Harry) had made his debut. That's excellent, so one certainly can't begrudge Bollin Dolly her victory. So, all in all, yesterday's trip to Leicester was another pleasant and interesting outing - and again it would be wrong to write a report on it without highlighting the good state of the track. The weather has been very hot and dry for a while now, so producing acceptable ground must have been easier said than done, but Leicester's surface was a nice, safe one, albeit obviously one which would not have been of any use to any horse who isn't suited by fast ground. I walked the track with Chris Dwyer (whose charge Miss Polly Plum, pictured right of shot, finished third in the penultimate race) before racing and we both came away happy with what we'd seen.

To move from the positive to the negative, it would be wrong to end last week without alluding to events in our street. Sadly Exeter Road now boasts one fewer trainer than was the case at the week's start, Jonathan Jay having relinquished his license. It's been a strange summer for this strange street, what with the recent unexplained (and tragically fatal) fire in the house attached to Don Cantillon's stable and now the sudden disintegration of Jonathan's empire. No doubt we shall hear more details of both incidents in the fullness of time. Whatever the full story, I suppose the one lesson from this week is that we've been reminded that running a training business is easier said than done. Which makes it all the more remarkable and praise-worthy that I've been able to hang on to (some small part of) my sanity for all these years.

On the subject of sanity, our little friend Squeaker continues to pop up. He seems to have settled into Luca's stable, as the fact that he is the regular morning partner of a good horse (last year's Breeders' Cup Marathon winner Man Of Iron, a lovely horse who is pictured here with our hero nine days ago) suggests, and I enjoyed a pleasant dinner with him in the Golden Lion on Monday night, catching up on a few brahmas. That was one of two consecutive nights out for me: on Tuesday I had the pleasure of being entertained in the Jockey Club by Paul Roy and Nic Coward, who on behalf of the BHA were kind enough to host a dinner for around ten successful trainers, a handful of prominent local bloodstock identities, and me. That was very interesting - and comforting too because it made it clear that, even though racing's well-documented financial woes are not going to be at all easy to solve, our leaders are clearly doing their best to find a solution. The problem is, of course, that in racing's politics as in all other types of politics, things rarely happen swiftly and negotiations are rarely made public until they have been completed, so onlookers can lose sight of the fact that the problems are actually being addressed. However, I was happy to come away from the evening confident that racing's problems are at least being tackled, and being tackled by sensible people who take the task seriously; and one can't really ask for more than that.

Finally, I'm disappointed that nobody noticed my 'deliberate error' a few chapters back of saying that Media Puzzle won the Melbourne Cup in 2001 - 2002 it was, of course. That chapter contained a further inaccuracy (or it was true at the time, but has now been rendered untrue) because Richard Sims is no longer Beekeeper's strapper in the movie: he has been downgraded to playing the part of the strapper of Hatha Anna, another Godolphin runner who fared less well in the race. No doubt there'll be further brahmas to come out of that one - but not before, I hope, Hotfoot has finally made her debut. Her debut Take One (to use a film-making phrase which Richard would, no doubt, appreciate) was aborted when she played up in the stalls at Newmarket a couple of weeks ago, but she passed her stalls test with flying colours nine days ago (and is pictured here on a very balmy Newmarket evening about to take it, with our old friend Yarmy being kind enough to lend a hand) and is now set for Take Two tomorrow evening at Windsor. Fingers crossed for no debacles this time.

1 comment:

Anton said...

One thing they esaly can do to help the racing is - or two alternatives is given :-)
1) Ban all bookmaking and establish a tote that is own by the racing autorothies and send the gamblers money bak into the sport. Its done in Scandinavia and it works wery well.
2) OR - have the bookies to pay a higher part oft their turnower from racing back into the racing.