Sunday, April 17, 2011

Gus etc.

I had a nice start to the day yesterday. As Aisling and I were walking down the road on Asterisk and Kadouchski, one of our neighbours who lives around the corner was walking up it. As we passed, his words were, "I'll vote for you". That was very good to hear, bearing in mind that it's polling day on May 5th, I'm standing to be a town councillor and I haven't done anything at all about canvassing. So I might as well start here: if you live in this ward (the Severals) please vote for me! We are very lucky to have some excellent town councillors who make a lot of effort to make sure that Newmarket remains a town to be proud of. However, it's unwise to take anything for granted; over and above which, it might in general be a good thing to have some representation from the racing community on the council. We have a strong interest in what the council does, so we shouldn't really be leaving all the work to others. Anyway, finding people from the racing community to make the effort to get involved might have been easier said than done, so I've volunteered to stand, as have Rachel Hood and Jacko Fanshawe, wives of the trainers John Gosden and James Fanshawe respectively. Rachel and I are both standing for the Severals, a ward in which there are five seats and six people standing for them. I hope that we both get in - but if we do, I hope that it is not at the expense of Richard Fletcher, who is currently on the council and who is a really good councillor. Richard stands as an independent, which obviously makes electioneering a little tougher as one can't count on the support of people who would vote simply for the party (I'm standing as a Conservative), but he is such a good councillor that I trust that his good name will go before him and ensure that he is not the one of the six who fails to make it. Whatever happens, we want Richard on our council.

I'd like to blame my politicising for the fact that I've gone six days between chapters on this blog but, if the truth be known, Gus must take a largest share of the blame! By the standards of puppies in general, he's extremely well behaved (not least because he sleeps so much) but he does have his boisterous moments and, in general, puppies do want watching. And he does have a touch of the Little Lord Faulteroy in him, meaning that if one is not careful one ends up doing absolutely everything for him. I'd imagine that I was the same at the same age (and for the next dozen or so years). The cats are slowly coming round to the idea of him being here, which is great, even if it would still be an exaggeration to say that they have welcomed him fully into their fold. But we are getting there. At any rate, they no longer seem to hold it against me for having invited him in.

Other than that, things seem to be chugging away as usual in the stable. We didn't have a runner last week, but aim to have two this week. Kadouchski ought to run at Towcester tomorrow and Ex Con is an intended runner at Sandown on Saturday. I feel slightly nervous about running a jumper at Towcester - which of course has a lengthy and relatively steep downhill run and where the ground, very heavy in the winter, has the scope to get worryingly firm in once the spring arrives - but I hope that we will get there to find it relatively good: the past few times I have visited Towcester in dry conditions in the spring, I have always been pleasantly relieved to find that it has been well watered. Let's hope that the same applies tomorrow, as I might have to have a re-think if that were not the case. I hope that underfoot conditions won't be an issue at Sandown: Ex Con doesn't like it wet and the forecast is for more of this benign weather, and one would hope and assume that a top-class track such as Sandown would not produce worryingly firm ground for a feature raceday which is set to attract some of the best National Hunt horses in training, possibly including, I believe, Kauto Star. Ex Con (pictured cantering up Railway Land last month) had been entered for Cheltenham four days ago, but he was still blowing a bit after his gallops so I thought that he probably needed another week and a half of work to be ready do himself justice on his resumption, especially bearing in mind that with his current lofty handicap mark (126) any race he contests is inevitably going to be a tough one.

Over and above the two horses set to run this week, there are a few more in the pipeline who should be running before too long. I hope that both Batgirl and Silken Thoughts will be ready to resume next week, and then I hope that we'd have some more to run in May. It will be a long while before we have a two-year-old runner - even if one of them found her preparation running without any hitches whatsoever, it would still be hard to see any being ready to run before August, but that's by choice - but the youngsters have at least started out on the long road to readiness. The three yearlings who were here last autumn are, obviously, now two, and also now back in the stable after their winter off; and they have been joined by a filly by Beat Hollow (who is pictured cantering up Warren Hill AW four days ago on the far side of the Tiger Hill, with the Sir Percy on the near side - while the Barathea is pictured walking around the yard a couple of weeks ago under Adam). She is a half-sister to Batgirl, although the only way that you could work that out would be if I told you because they are very dissimilar in appearance. She is still owned by her breeders, Louise Parry and Peter Steele-Mortimer, and she has joined the gang of three quite happily. It will be interesting seeing how things go with this quartet over the coming weeks and months: they are all doing similar work with each other at present, but as time goes on it is inevitable that some will find things easier than others, and that some will be better able to make progress more quickly than others. And the joy of racing is that, at present, it is impossible to know which will be more adept at picking up the racing game than which. And therein lies the eternal fascination of what Jenny Pitman so memorably called the glorious uncertainty.

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