Friday, December 10, 2010

Lost to the frost

Well, we won't be going to the races this weekend, Fakenham's Sunday meeting having been abandoned this morning (Friday) at 8.10. There's still just too much snow and frost up in Norfolk for it to be feasible for racing to go ahead two days hence, notwithstanding the fact that there is set to be a continual thaw in the interim. Still, it's not the end of the world as, fingers crossed, Folkestone ought to go ahead on Tuesday, and both Alcalde (three pictures of whom and of William, all taken yesterday morning, adorn this chapter) and Kadouchski ought to run there. William was here yesterday morning and schooled both horses on the all-weather strip, which came into its own on a day when the turf was hard as iron - not that either needed to learn how to jump, but with them both set to run over jumps for either the first time or the first time for a long time, it was wise that they should both have a schooling session to get their eyes in. Which went very well - even if the morning did give me cause to worry about William: for the first time ever, he let the stirrups down when getting onto the horse (Alcalde) I'd been riding. He normally takes them up irrespective of how long or short I'd been riding - he must be getting old!

I can't conclude this chapter without giving you a blow-by-blow account of the saga of Fakenham's abandonment, as told through the successive going reports from David Hunter. We never like to let a brahma go by, so I won't let these ones go unhighlighted. We had David's preliminary prognosis in the previous chapter, and this is what happened after that. Yesterday morning he added to the outlook: "Still might not make it, but there is a glimmer of hope with day and night temps forecast to be above freezing from Thursday onwards - hence inspection 8am Friday morning. Continue to watch this space for updates and as always keep warm and cheerful - sloe gin always helps! David."

That was grand, but things weren't looking up come the afternoon: "An update! Wednesday night -2, day +4 but no real thaw happened and snow still on ground despite sun on it all day. Forecast Thursday night above zero, but clear sky and temp dropping at end of the day so we shall see! The glimmer of hope beginning to fade, but will see what the night brings so still inspection 8am on Friday morning. Continue to watch this space for updates and as always keep warm and cheerful (to Paul Webber, delighted to have reminded you to decant your sloe gin into bottles!) David."

The final nail came, as expected, into the coffin this morning: "I am sorry to say that we have had to abandon the race meeting due to snow on the track and ice on the roads and enclosures. The forecast is not good enough to give a chance for a complete thaw ... Sorry to have abandoned the meeting, but at least you have time to make other arrangements. Lets hope we have luck on our side for New Year's Day and have a Happy Christmas. David".

Well, you won't find a more helpful or informative set of updates than that, so you can understand why Fakenham remains one of Britain's most popular, most successul and best run tracks.

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