Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Happy Sunday

Sunday was a lovely day. After the very cold day on Saturday, the weather warmed up nicely so that there were no frost worries and, if one used a little imagination, one could nearly have termed it a spring day, albeit a sunless one. But, pleased though I was to be at Fakenham on a nice (for January) day, I was even more pleased with Alcalde. He had had a fairly rigorous three-season Flat campaign before joining this stable in the summer and he would, therefore, be justified if he felt that racing wasn't really something to enjoy - but everything he did on Sunday he did contentedly and happily, which was just great. It's debatable whether one ought to race horses who don't enjoy it, and it's certainly very doubtful that one can get such horses to fulfill their potential. But when they are as happy with their lot as he seemed at every stage of Sunday - before, during and after the race - then it's a pleasure for man and beast. His was a strange race because they went flat out from the start. I've seen mile races on the Flat where they go off more slowly than the leader did in his race. Alcalde consequently wasn't really travelling that well for the first mile, but once the leader had fallen (well, unseated Tom Scudamore, but it was so bad a mistake that he might as well have fallen) at what would be the last hurdle on the next circuit, the remaining jockeys were able (and presumably relieved) to take a bit of a pull. Thereafter, Alcalde was more or less always in control and he won nicely. It was just really, really nice. Any winner is special, but the first time a horse wins for one is particularly special. And this is a horse I'm particularly fond of -while Fakenham, arguably the friendliest course in England, is always a particularly nice place at which to win. Clerk of the course David Hunter and racecourse chairman Sam Bullard are always very keen to make sure that owners and trainers enjoy their visit - and it was only a shame that Jason Hathorn was the only representative of the Alhambra Partnership able to be present to enjoy their hospitality.

Someone else who must have enjoyed the day was Rhys Flint. I'd spent most of last week assuming that, if Alcalde ran on Sunday, William would ride him. However, three quarters of an hour AFTER declaration time on Friday I took a call from Dave Roberts telling me that William felt obliged to go to Hereford to ride for his former boss Noel Chance. Dave's list of available jockeys included Rhys Flint, who wasn't actually set to be anywhere on Sunday, but whom Dave must have thought should be on the list because of his having won for us on Ex Con in the summer. Bearing in mind that victory, and particularly that there is some overlap between the All Points West Partnership and the Alhambra Partnership, I unhesitatingly opted for Rhys, not wanting to waste too much time on the decision because I was getting ready to leave for Wolverhampton with Ethics Girl. So Rhys at a fairly late stage found that he would have a ride on Sunday after all, and on the day duly headed from one side of the country to the other to take this ride. His winning ride on Ex Con had also been a late call-up as he was only booked for that at lunchtime on the day of the race, subsequent to Peter Toole, who had been going to ride the horse, being injured on the Lambourn gallops that morning. These late bookings must be good for him, though: having gone to Fakenham just for the one ride, he picked up the ride on Tom Scudamore's intended mount (the Steve Gollings-trained All That Remains, pictured in second place as the field come into the straight on the penultimate circuit) in the bumper, Tom having been injured in the fall in our race; and that won too. What a happy turn of events - expecting to have no rides on a Sunday and ending up riding a double. And meanwhile poor William had nothing better than a second on his three rides at Hereford and found himself missing a winner for this stable (for at least the third time). No worries, though: he'll have plenty of other days. God willing Alcalde will do so too.


racingfan said...

Well done john, watched the race on atr and thought rhys flint rode a great race, it was a strange race as the horse did seem to be going very quick in front and not much could get into the race,

Anyway well done and keep up the good work,


John Berry said...

Thanks, Ian.

Nathan said...

Congratulations to the whole team John. Top work.

John Berry said...

Thank you, Nathan.