Thursday, February 10, 2011

Balmy and barmier

Our prematurely spring-like conditions have been continuing to such an extent that today's Racing Post contained the surprising announcement that the going at our local jumps course, Huntingdon, was set to be good, good to firm in places today. That, though, proved not to be the case, as the forecast rain did indeed arrive both there and here, and the ground there ended up being called good to soft and looking much softer than that. Even with a day of steady rain, though, the temperature remained very mild, and it was almost like a day of summer's rain. So that wasn't too bad, even if we seem to have lost the beautiful conditions of the first half of the week, best summed up by the scene up at the Links on Tuesday morning, where we met our Tommy Keddy-trained mate Archie Rice for a bit more jumping practice. Conditions in the stable have been equally splendid, even though our field out the back remains very boggy: it always takes a lot longer to dry out after its winter of discontent than does the remainder of the property. The field is actually at its worst at this time of year. As it dries, it becomes very holding indeed and the mud becomes very clinging, so just now we aren't putting the horses who are close to running in it at all, as I've got enough to worry about without the likelihood of something pulling a plate off a day or two before a race. What is fortunate, though, is that instead we can use the pens down in the yard for turn-out for horses whom I don't want to put in the field. Normally these pens would be very boggy in February and I wouldn't be using them, but the recent warm dry spell has seen them dry out so much that they're getting plenty of use now, with Alcalde seen here enjoying a roll on some very dry earth. And, of course, there is always the yard itself, now that it's not so wet that one wouldn't want horses at large on what I laughingly call the 'lawn'. Only those who can be trusted not to do anything stupid, of course, are given this privilege - so here we have Ex Con and Alcalde both mooching around very sensibly earlier this week.

It's as well that the weather has been so balmy because quite a few of the town's concerned citizens found themselves killing time outside the Forest Heath District Council offices in Mildenhall at dusk yesterday. That wouldn't have been much fun in typical February temperatures, but as it was it wasn't too bad. This was the latest saga in the barmy Hatchfield Farm debacle. As you might know, Lord Derby, who remains steadfast in his believe that he is the only soldier in step on the parade ring and that he alone knows that Hatchfield Farm being turned into a 1,200-home + industrial and retail estate suburb won't do anything to add to the town's traffic and thus make the passage of horses through the town more hazardous. Unfortunately, Lord Derby seems to have got himself a couple of staunch allies in the shape of the FHDC planning officers, who thus provided us with a great 'Yes Minister' moment, Sir Humphrey once again trying to wrest power away from Jim Hacker. In this instance, it was an attempt by the officers to ensure that the elected councillors were taken out of the loop as regards fighting Lord Derby's appeal against those councillors' unanimous decision last year to reject his planning application. Yesterday evening saw the councillors set to vote on whether to hand over their own power to the council officers to handle the appeal as they see fit and without recourse to the councillors' opinion. It takes a lot to get a bunch of trainers to agree on anything, but the prospect of this was enough to get many of our number over there just to be present at the meeting as observers, hoping to remind our elected representatives that they are the people for whom we have voted, not their supposed servants. As it turned out, our presence was probably unnecessary as the councillors gave the officers' proposal very short shrift indeed, but it never does any harm to remind our rulers that we do care about the decisions which they take on our behalf and that we do pay attention to what's going on. And if nothing else, the evening did serve to remind us that we are lucky enough to have some very good and honest councillors acting on our behalf, who genuinely do care about the welfare of this town and who are not going to be brow-beaten into doing what isn't right simply because it's easier that way.

1 comment:

Nathan said...

Glad to read of the solidarity shown against Lord Derby's plans John. Hope you caught my debut appearance tonight on ATR? So good to know the ladies behind the scenes in the studio have such exquisite taste in men :-)