Saturday, January 29, 2011


Ethics Girl ran very well yesterday. The Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed-owned winner Exemplary won with a ton in hand as this picture of the finish shows - he was rated 80, but would have won the race off 90 - but she did everything right to finish an honourable second on an evening of low temperatures which made conditions (ie deep sand and horrible kick-back) a real test of a horse's resolution. That probably wasn't a bad thing as her resolution could never be faulted. She was assisted in her task yesterday by another faultless ride from Franny Norton, so all in all one couldn't come away anything other than pleased, satisfied and proud.

I hope that Hans Adielsson also went home happy. As you might have read, he was formerly champion trainer of (firstly) gallopers and (subsequently) trotters in Sweden before his recent retirement; and he has now been tempted out of retirement by Erik Penser to train near Lambourn. I would imagine that he will do very well because he is clearly a top horseman, and I was particularly pleased to find myself at the races on the occasion of his first British runner (the five-year-old maiden Beauchamp Xiara, a daughter of Erik Penser's Eclipse winner Compton Admiral who finished second behind an impressive Marco Botti-trained debutante Libritish, who is, as you might have guessed, by Librettist). Our Swedish friend Ida, who was formerly in Newmarket working for Sir Mark, has moved down to Lambourn to work for her compatriot and she led the mare up last night (pictured).

Let's hope that Alcalde can run as creditably tomorrow as Ethics Girl ran last night. He should perform with credit as he's a nice horse in an ordinary race (at Fakenham). Let's first, of course, hope that Fakenham does actually take place. There had been no reason at all to be concerned on that score as far as the forecasts had been concerned all week, but I now read that the meeting is in doubt. Mind you, Cheltenham was in serious doubt today and that's taking place, which is great as it thus provides the highlights of the afternoon's televiewing. Of course, I have to temper that observation by acknowledging that the highlights of any Channel Four racing show is not the racing, but those great Dubai ads which open and close each commercial break. (The Racing UK pundits would, I suspect, say that the Dubai ads "bookend" these breaks). ("In terms of adverts"). For years, when I watched Royal Ascot on TV, I used to watch the racing and go off to do something else when the fashion segments came on, whereas nowadays I'm very happy to miss the odd race just as long as I savour second of the James Sherwood brahmafest; similarly, with Channel Four racing nowadays I can usually take or leave the racing, but I'd be sick if I missed any of the Dubai ads, irrespective of how many times I've already seen them. My two favourites are, "How could Rajah dream that a forgotten purse would lead to a memorable meeting with his hero?" and "How could Rajah have guessed that his sense of hospitality would help him rescue a tourist in distress?".

I can't, of course, mention these ads without commenting on how pleased I was to spot our friend Richard Sims in an ad in the Racing Post last weekend. Richard, as some of you might know, is an eminent adman himself: he's been selling ads like a demon for years. It was nice, therefore, to find (part of) him appearing in a Racing Post ad in last Saturday's Racing Post (pictured in the previous paragraph). With Dickie's experience in adland, it was no surprise that he should have finally found himself appearing in an ad, but in truth it's never a surprise to see Dickie (or someone who looks very like him) anywhere. It's uncanny how many people do actually look like him, with Dougie Whyte, Vlad Duric (pictured on a Best Bets cover) and Aidan O'Brien (pictured taking a break from watching trackwork at Mornington a couple of years ago to stuff his face with a kilo of under-cooked Greek sausage) all bearing an uncanny similarity to the doyen of admen. So that's two of my hobbies covered in one chapter: keeping a look out for new Dubai ads and keeping my eyes open for Dickie-lookalikes. And that's even without mentioning the pleasure which I used to get at the tail-end of last year from the Scotch whisky ads in the Racing Post on a Saturday which featured Richard Gibson and (presumably) his head lad, plus one of their horses, looking as if they had just been caught red-handed holding up the post office at Jerilderie. They clearly didn't do Richard Gibson any harm because I know read that, on the back of that advertising campaign, he has been offered a job training at Sha Tin.

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