Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Bank Holiday weather

I can't say that our trip to Chepstow on the Bank Holiday Monday was a bad one, because horse, rider and all involved came home safely. Nor, indeed, did Silken Thoughts run particularly badly, finishing halfway down the field and within striking distance of the principals. However, I'd thought that she would run a bit better than that, and there are more thrilling ways of spending a Bank Holiday than standing in the rain 200 miles from home watching a horse run less well than one had hoped. We wouldn't have taken her there had we known how wet it was going to be, but the conditions seemed to take everyone by surprise. I actually thought that there was a reasonable chance of her handling them, but I'd walked (part of) the track a couple of hours before racing and found it to be at least good to soft then - so, as the rain continued to tumble down, the conditions certainly added an extra element of uncertainty to proceedings. Still, once we were there there was no obvious reason not to run but, although it was still possible to be reasonably optimistic as she and Darryll Holland headed out into the gloom (pictured), any optimism had been completely doused by the time that she returned, muddied and bowed (also pictured). The funny thing was that, in retrospect, I suppose that the writing had been on the wall from the outset. I'm a great believer in omens; and the omens were surely set against us from the moment when the clutch in the horse-box in which we were about travel gave out just before we were due to leave. However, ever anxious to find a positive even when none really exists, I decided that this meant that it was going to be our lucky day: how lucky were we that it broke before we'd left, rather than an hour or two later? And also how lucky were we that, the box having broken down on a Bank Holiday, a day when one would expect all other boxes to be out on the road, a replacement could be found instantly? This line of thinking we now know not to have been correct as we were clearly battling against the fates all day - just as surely as the day that we went to Newbury and heard on the radio on the way down songs by both Coldplay and Mumford & Sons, which more or less guaranteed that I'd be dressed entirely in the emperor's new clothes by the time that I reached the races and that Alcalde would stumble in a patch of false ground two strides after the second last hurdle and unseat his jockey. So that was our Monday, a day on which a band of solid rain passed over the country from west to east, even if come Tuesday morning we were back to gloriously sunny conditions with only the mud on the ground to let us know what had happened the previous day (as you can see).

We seem now to be back to proper good weather again, notwithstanding the fact that we did get some more very heavy showers yesterday afternoon, so it looks as if the one day of soft ground won't be repeated for a while. Still, that's not the end of the world, and the rain that we have had, coupled with the sunshine which has replaced it, will surely make for better growing conditions than have been prevailing recently. That's particularly good for us, as the crop of cats which we are cultivating in the tub of soil outside the porch at the bottom of the stairs really seems to be coming on nicely. Cats are actually very easy to grow, even if we don't seem to be able to grow them unassisted, having had to call on Gus' help to oversee the project. He's doing quite a good job of that, as you can see, even if his decision to do his own boy's grave thing (that's the local legend of the flowers on the boy's grave, at the crossroads on the Kentford road, bearing the colours of the Derby winner, which you'll know if you are an avid Dick Francis reader) by planting flowers in the Queen's racing colours is looking less of a sure thing since the news has come out that Carlton House is not a certain runner. Let's hope that Gus is proved right, because surely the whole nation wants Carlton House to salute.


racingfan said...

I watched Silken Thoughts race on my sky plus (fantastic for someone whos kids would rather watch fireman sam and granda in my pocket than the racing!)and the condiitions didnt look great. Did you think that silken stayed the trip john?

Lets hope carlton house takes its place in the derby as it will giveracing a pr boost if it can win ,



John Berry said...

The answer is that I don't really know, Ian. I'm never really quite sure what 'staying' means, if that's not too stupid a thing to say. El Gran Senor seemingly didn't 'stay' a mile and a half, yet was beaten a lip in the Derby and won the Irish Derby with his head in his chest. On the day, she wasn't good enough, and to my eyes even as far as three furlongs from home she didn't look as if she was going to prove good enough. She didn't run badly, but she didn't, I feel, run to her best. Distance? Undulating track? Wet ground? Kickback? Take your pick.

As you know, trainers are invited to volunteer to the stewards reasons for disappointing, or seemingly disappointing, runs; I offered no reason, because my guess would be no better than anyone else's. All I can say is that she has come home sound and healthy, just as she went there.