Wednesday, December 15, 2010

24-hour respite from winter

I can't believe what a nice day it was yesterday. One of the groundsmen at Folkestone showed me a photograph which he had taken on his phone of their digital thermometer which had had the temperature at minus 15.8 degrees one day recently - but yesterday was a warm (ie three or four degrees above zero) sunny day with ground that was soft (and not even that on the steeplechase course) but in good condition. Any time I go to Folkestone in the summer I always find the track in very good nick, and it was great to find it similarly well prepared in the middle of a really bad period of winter weather. And, as mentioned already, it was just a lovely sunny day. Both horses ran with promise - it was Alcalde's (number 2) first run for six months and first ever in a jumps race, and only Kadouchski's (number 5) second run back from a long spell, and his first run over jumps for nearly a year, so we can forgive them for being found wanting in the latter stages of their races; but all in all it was just a pleasure to go there with two nice horses, to enjoy the day and to come home not displeased with the horses' runs. I suspect, though, that such balmy days may be few and far between for a while now: today, although above freezing from 10am onwards, was a horrible day with thick, cold, damp fog throughout, while the forecast tells us that after the temperature dips below zero again tomorrow night, it is unlikely to get back above zero until the middle of next week. So I think that we were lucky to have got the runs into those two horses yesterday while we had the chance.

The only part of Folkestone which did let on how cold it had been recently was the lovely fish pond behind the grandstand. Surprisingly, this was still frozen (or its surface was, anyway) apart from one ice-free area which represented maybe a eighth of its surface area. What was rather nice was that the resident koi carp were, unsurprisingly, all congregated underneath the part of the surface where the water was ice-free. This was very good as it means that this chapter can be the second one from recent weeks to contain a koi carp illustration (which doesn't count for much anywhere other than in my own mind.) I suspect that the pond will once again soon be totally ice-bound, as it must have been a week or so ago, but it's nice to be able to presume that the carp can cope with these conditions well - which I suppose is only common sense, as it gets very cold in their native Japan, so I believe. Closer to home, how cold it's going to be at Wolverhampton on Friday night will be more of a concern. Rhythm Stick has been lucky to find another fairly small field (strangely the race, despite only having attracted 13 runners, has been divided, which is odd as usually a race needs to have 20 declared horses for a division to take effect) but that will be academic if either the track fails to withstand the cold, as happened a couple of weeks ago, or if there is so much snow that nobody can get there. Conditions were remarkably benign there on Monday when Ethics Girl ran fourth, but I suspect that Friday will see things much harsher. We'll see.


Nathan said...

Another nice winner John :-)
You rightly looked rather pleased.

John Berry said...

Thank you, Nathan. Yes, it was grand!