Friday, April 01, 2011

Buzz and co.

If Ethics Girl ever held it against me that I subjected her to the deep sand of Southwell on Tuesday (and I don't think that she ever did), then I am sure that she would now have forgiven me because yesterday (ie two days after her trip to Southwell) I took her to "Horse Heaven", which is a good way of describing Kerry Oldfield's farm deep in the lovely Norfolk countryside between Norwich and Holt. We've been lucky enough for many years now to be able to send horses to this wonderful property where they can enjoy the life of luxury in the safest of hands, and I think that Ethics' current visit will probably prove to have been her fourth break there. Anyway, she's now in a big field full of grass, enjoying an extremely well-earned break with both Rhythm Stick and Ruby In The Dust. The former, like Ethics, has really earned his current break (both won three races during their most recent prepartion) while Ruby has done nothing whatsoever to earn a holiday - but she's only a youngster (albeit a four-year-old youngster) who still needs to do a bit more developing and maturing before she's ready for a racing career. And she's lucky at present to be doing her developing and maturing there. Ethics and Rhythm Stick are pictured in the second photograph in this paragraph, while its third picture shows Ethics and Ruby re-acquainting themselves. Is it too corny that I suggest that Ethics is saying, "Hello Ruby In The Dust"? Anyway, it's a lovely time of year (and one at which Primrose Farm really lives up to its name, as one passes plenty of such flowers as one drives in) and I couldn't think of a nicer place in which these horses could be spending it.

Yesterday's other excitements included my being asked by Gemma to highlight the forthcoming charitable exertions of her husband Simon. Simon is, as you might know, not only a very good vet, but also a distinguished athlete who is equally adept at running, cycling or swimming and is thus a seasoned competitor in triathlons, Ironman competitions and the like. Anyway, to raise both money for and awareness of the Neuroblastoma Society and Cancer Research UK, both of whom have been doing a lot to help his 3-year-old nephew Luke, Simon will running the London Marathon dressed as Buzz Lightyear and then the Edinburgh Marathon more conventionally attired. His obviously won't be recording anything like his best time when weighed down by a Buzz Lightyear costume, but even so he aims to complete the London Marathon in around 2 hours 37 minutes. He will then be aiming for a personal best in Edinburgh - and if he were to achieve that, that would be a decent effort as I presume that Edinburgh is host to one of the more undulating marathons. Anyway, you can read all about this venture on . You can also see there a great photo Simon in his Buzz Lightyear gear. In this blog, by contrast, you'll have to settle for two much more mundane photographs of him. In the first one he is about to settle down for a gruelling session of one of the other sports at which he excels (Uno) while in the second one he appears, though surrounded by friends, to have taken himself off in his mind into the world of the triathlete. One can imagine that he is composing his own critical notices in his head: "The crowd gasps at Waterhouse's masterful control of the bicycle". Or he could be imagining a blue plaque above the place where he first ever touched a girl's chest. (By the way, if it is felt that there have been any breaches of intellectual property copyright in this paragraph, I hope that Jarvis Cocker will accept my plagiarism in the light-hearted vein in which it is intended).

So that's all good: a great challenge being undertaken by Simon for a very worthy cause. While I'm handing out plaudits, I feel that I ought to salute both trainers and racecourses in this current tarriff-dominated climate. The National Hunt response to the introduction of the tarriffs was close to non-existent, for which the National Hunt community can collectively hang its head in shame (and I can say that, having been told that I'm not part of it) but the Flat response has been far more meaningful. I think that everyone involved in British racing, including the racecourses, feels that for the general health of the sport it would be a good thing if the downward trend in prize money were to be at least halted, even if only so that Britain can remain a justifiable place for the community of international owners to have their horses trained and raced: such owners are responsible for the majority of good horses internationally, and it would be a terrible shame if Britain came to be regarded by them as a third-world racing nation financially which was no longer a suitable venue for their horses. Whether one is involved in the sport as a professional or as a spectator, or if one runs a racecourse whose business depends on being able to put on a good show, such an eventuality would be bad news. Anyway, it has been heartening how many Flat trainers have been prepared to stand behind the reintroduction of the time-honoured concept of minimum values for races (with Mark Johnston being the most admirable, but the likes of Richard Hannon and Mick Channon also notable for their support) and also how many racecourses have taken the points on board and are clearly doing all they can to respond.


racingfan said...

glad to see both ethics and stick enjoying their break, both horses provided me with a lot of enjoyment over the winter, especially ethics girl who seemed to run on friday evenings at wolverhampton which meant enjoying luke and jasons show, and having a nice horse to follow.

Thanks to you John and the team for getting the horses to consistently run so well over the winter.

I am looking forward to the turf campaign although I will miss the all weather meetings.

Keep up the great work with the blog and I wish you and the team a great season ahead.



Nathan said...

Thanks for the holiday pics John, i'm sure the three horses will enjoy their break. As for prize money i couldn't agree more and it's heartening to read that flat trainers are making the effort. Previously an owner myself i feel that owners must be given a better chance to recover some of the cost involved with having a horse in training. Perhaps more worrying for the British racing industry though is the trend of owners increasingly looking at having horses trained abroad, particularly in SA and the US.

On a more upbeat note, how many do you expect to have running this turf flat season? How are the three 2yo's coming along and has the Tiger Hill filly been named yet?

And lastly whilst i'm dishing out the questions; is there any news on Sophie Silvester? Will she be back this turf flat season?


John Berry said...

Thanks, Ian.

Don't know the news on Sophie, Nathan, but I'll find out.

Hopefully we might end up with something like a dozen to run on the grass this summer. The two-year-olds are all coming along fine, albeit in an unhurried manner: the three who went out for the winter have been back in a couple of weeks now. The Tiger Hill filly is called Wasabi (her dam is Japanese, hence her being named after Japanese food). I should put something up on the blog about them, and some of the others for whom the turf season is looming.