Friday, March 11, 2011

Salutations overdue

Salutations are overdue to Dave Bradley, overall winner of the Godolphin Stable Staff Awards. It's very remiss of me not to have saluted Dave's honour before this - but in my defence there has been a small amount of fairly nice weather upon which to remark. Priorties! I think that I'm correct in saying that this isn't Dave's first award because I seem to remember him being honoured as Stable Lad of the Year at a previous Horserace Writers' and Photographers' Awards ceremony. (My anti-Hatchfield Farm development protest for this chapter takes the form of my not referring to such an award as a 'Derby Award'). Any such acknowledgement which Dave receives is well deserved. I doubt that I can add anything to the tributes which have already been paid to Dave in the coverage of these awards, but all I can say is that it's been a pleasure to have been able to call him a friend over the past 23 years or so, since we worked together in Luca Cumani's stable. Over the years I'd say that I'm the wiser and the happier for having known him - and, indeed, for the enjoying the friendship of the man above Dave's left shoulder in this photograph: Phillip Harman, who worked alongside Dave then and who does so again now, in Jeremy Noseda's stable. Whether I'm the wiser for having enjoyed the friendship over the same period of the other man in the photograph (Richard Sims, who is curiously sporting what looks like a tweed beret) is less certain, but I'm certainly more able to appreciate a brahma thanks to time spent with Dickie.

Someone else to whom I have omitted to pay tribute is Dream Ahead. While waffling on about Frankel's potential in the previous chapter, I failed to point out the often over-looked fact that it is far from clear-cut that he was the best two-year-old in Newmarket last season. I am aware that Frankel finished quite a long way in front of Dream Ahead on the only occasion when they met (in the Dewhurst, which Frankel won and in which Dream Ahead finished in arrears) but that clearly was not a fair illustration of Dream Ahead's best form. While I greatly admire Frankel, my feeling was that Dream Ahead's win in the Middle Park was as good a performance as any put up by a two-year-old all year - so I certainly don't think that it is a foregone conclusion that Frankel will end up being regarded as the best of his generation in Newmarket, never mind in the country as a whole. It all revolves around which horse can stay injury-free, really, and we'll only find out the answer to that one as the season goes on. At present, though, all one can say is that Dream Ahead, a lovely colt who is pictured here crossing the Bury Road yesterday under his regular rider Chris Hough, is going around the Heath as if he hasn't a care in the world, which can only be regarded as an excellent thing. While I haven't seen him do anything this year other than walk (he's obviously been doing more than that, just not while I've been watching him), it is fair to assume that all he has done so far he has found easy and that he remains in pristine condition thus far. Long may he remain thus because everyone loves a champion; and he, to my mind, has the potential to be just that.

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