Saturday, November 27, 2010


Our two trips to the races this week were interesting, primarily because of the weather (which is always interesting to me, even if to no one else). It was ever so cold at Wolverhampton both nights, as it is in Newmarket now. We haven't had a great deal of snow in Newmarket, even if we did awake this morning to a dusting, but what little we have had will, I think, hang around for a while because it's hard to see any significant thawing taking place over the next few daytimes - and none whatsoever during the long nights, obviously. The yard was a forbidding place (as this photograph shows) at ten to seven this morning as we waited for dawn to appear, but at least the snow brightened things up a bit.

Snow wasn't the problem at Wolverhampton, but you'd have thought that it was when the principal complaint was balling up in horses' hoofs. Not, though, snow balling up, but Polytrack doing so, which isn't ideal as it's supposed to be an all-weather surface, so a few degrees of frost should not have made it such an unsatisfactory surface. Ethics Girl found the deep surface a problem on Thursday and made rather heavy weather of it, while Friday's conditions were worse. Throughout Thursday's racing, the Polytrack surface had been balling up in the horses' feet, which seemed quite a worry - except for the fact that no horse appeared to lose his footing or pull up sore. On Friday the temperature was colder still, and continuing to drop once night had fallen. The balls in the feet seemed to get bigger by the race, but still no problem seemed to eventuate - until our race (5.30), in which the favourite stumbled and unshipped her rider leaving the stalls. Bearing in mind that the only thing in favour of racing up until then had been that there had been no incidents, that was clearly enough to bring things to a halt - although the really bizarre thing was that the dozen or so runners for the next race actually went down to the start before racing was called off. As their jockeys then walked them back to the enclosure, I had cause to reflect how pleased I was that I was not one of the owners who had needlessly been made to pay their jockey 106-55, surely the easiest hundred quid the jockeys would ever earn! So that was that - and no harm was done. Asterisk did indeed find the race a bit far, but she ran OK to finish fifth, only losing third narrowly and on the line. She's still learning so the outing will have done her good, and she was good as gold behind, entering, standing in and leaving (pictured) the stalls, which was great. She'll be right.

It's hard to understand how tonight's racing can take place, bearing in mind that it's even colder and the racing is later - tonight's first race takes place later after the time at which stumps were drawn last night. Surely the same problem is going to occur? Or, put it this way, if it doesn't occur, it begs the question of why whatever has been done today to make things right wasn't done yesterday, bearing in mind that the problem was there on Thursday evening. But it's easy to be wise after the event, I suppose.

One nice thing that I ought to mention about our Wolverhampton trips was that the silver lining of Ethics Girl's relatively poor run was that the race ended up being won by one of our neighbours, Willie Musson, whose splendidly-named Mongoose Alert (seen steaming and beaming with justifiable pride in the freezing winner's enclosure after the race) won very well. This is a lovely horse who's only been with Willie since the summer. I'd found myself riding alongside him a couple of months ago and he'd caught my eye then, so I'm glad to see that he's come good - and all the more so because his coming good gives hope to us all: he's an EIGHT-YEAR-OLD, and was STILL A MAIDEN A MONTH AGO. He's now won two races, and I expect that he'll win some more. This must have been very satisfying for Willie - particularly as he is from a mare by Ore, whom Willie trained to win (from memory - I haven't checked this) the Henry VII Stakes at Sandown a good 25 years ago. As Ore made virtually no impression at stud, and as Mongoose Alert is by the National Hunt stallion Oscar, you'll understand why this victory does indeed provide heart for all the battlers.

NB - although this chapter hasn't appeared until Tuesday, it was actually written on Saturday.

1 comment:

Nathan said...

Talking of weather John, I would have loved to have witnessed the recent reports of thundersnow. It's a rare occurrence and must be amazing to experience. There were people reporting thundersnow from the North East England asking, 'is this the end of the world?'. Brilliant.