Wednesday, October 27, 2010


The past week has been abnormal because, although we are getting quieter now, we managed to have four runners in eight days. Last week we had Batgirl at Windsor on the Monday, Ethics Girl at Kempton on the Thursday and Rhythm Stick at Wolverhampton on the Friday, and then we had Jenny Dawson at Yarmouth yesterday (Monday). None of them made the frame but Rhythm Stick showed a glimmer of promise and Ethics Girl didn't get much luck - or rather she did get much luck as she was very lucky not to be brought down when a horse broke down in front of her. If Franny Norton hadn't been so on the ball she'd have been involved in a pile-up, but thankfully he made a molehill out of a potentially very serious mountain. So we can forgive her a moderate run. Batgirl didn't run very well, but that's forgivable at the end of a productive year, while poor Jenny just wasn't up to it in extremely taxing conditions. I don't need to say anything about the conditions at Yarmouth other than mentioning that the winner of our race ran the distance in 32.2 seconds over standard - while the previous race, over nine furlongs, was run in 2:09.02, which was 18.02 seconds over standard. And it is worth pointing out that, in my wellingtons, I'd have been a worthy winner of any 'Most Appropriately Dressed' competition. Anyway, that was the week that was. Such as it was.

Happily the past week also featured some extra-curricular activities, which was much appreciated. Two winter evening meetings in a row, with very full days finishing after midnight, rather took it out of me, so it was great to let the train take the strain at the weekend when I took Anthony down to Devon to visit his grandad for two days at the start of his half-term. I was blessed: the second weekend in a row in the west country, and glorious weather again. Two nights with plenty of sleep and two days off did me the power of good, over and above the inevitable brahmae which inevitably ensue when three generations of Berrys brahma-ize together. And it was just lovely to be in a beautiful part of the world in lovely weather. Over and above just being there, we had a further treat in the form of a visit to Exmoor Zoo on Sunday, which really is a rather special place. The first animals one sees when one enters are meerkats (and obviously I had to take umpteen photographs of these delightful little creatures, for purposes of comparison). If one just gazed at them for a couple of hours and then went home, the visit would still be very worthwhile. But if one then goes around the full zoo - set in a beautiful little hillside corner just off the moor - there are further treats galore, with otters (well, it wouldn't be a proper Exmoor zoo without otters, would it?), great grey owls, a wolf, a 'beast of Exmoor' (ie panther), potteroos, wallabies, cheetahs, a puma and grey kangaroos being among the many highlights. It really is a special place, but perhaps the main attraction for me, over and above the meerkats, was finding five of what are apparently only 200 New Guinea Singing Dogs remaining in the world. And as New Guinea Singing Dogs are very, very like basenjis, only bigger, and as the best dog the world has ever seen (ie the late, great Alice) was a basenji, then this really was a very special discovery. As this photograph will enable anyone who knew Alice to understand. As we know, this blog, although not a tipping service, does give out the occasional tip - and tonight's tip is that, if you're ever near Exmoor, go to the zoo. And the other tip is to allow a full day for it.


Nathan said...

'obviously i had to take umpteen photographs of these delightful little creatures, for purposes of comparison.'

Boom Boom!

Alan Taylor said...

Hi John, You have a fascinating zoo in Newmarket, namely a "Human Zoo" As you watch all the characters on the gallops I am sure it even puts meerkat watching in the shade.Admittedly some of the characters are not as good looking as the meerkats!!!