Saturday, May 26, 2012

One extreme to another

We've gone from one extreme to the other.  It's now just a joy to be alive, the yard has become the most lovely place to be and it is heavenly out on the Heath, as these three shots taken yesterday morning (the first of some of Ed Vaughan's horses and the next two of Luca's string) show.  Overall, there are very few downsides to summer conditions, but a couple spring to mind.  It can be less feasible to take dogs if one is going on a journey, and it can become harder to find suitable conditions for horses who don't like fast ground.  (Mind you, one might just as easily remark about bad weather that it makes it harder to find suitable conditions for horses who don't like wet ground, and there are plenty of those).

The majority of horses tend not to be too fussy about the going just as long as it isn't extreme - either extremely soft or extremely firm.  But when it is one or the other of those, there are plenty who struggle - and there are plenty who struggle on both extremes.  I think that Yarmouth had been just about good two or three days prior to yesterday's meeting, but the arrival of the lovely weather (notwithstanding the fact that, although there wasn't a cloud in the sky all afternoon, it was actually rather chilly there yesterday, courtesy of a stiff North Sea wind) had meant that it had been drying by the hour.

The track was upgraded yet again to 'firm' (well, there were supposedly good to firm places in the back straight, but that consolation was completely academic if one's race was not longer than a mile) after the fourth race, ie the one before ours.  I'd over-heard a jockey after the third race telling the connections of his mount that he or she had become very unbalanced on the firm ground on the ridges which apparently lie intermittently across the straight at Yarmouth, and this had made me feel slightly uneasy, as that's a scenario we've seen with Batgirl on several occasions in the past.

And my unease was justified, as Batgirl (pictured under Eddie Ahern down at the start) didn't find conditions to her liking: she too was feeling the ground and finding the ridges very unbalancing.  She didn't run too badly in finishing fifth (with the four mares who beat her all being ones who on form had a good shot of doing so anyway) but she clearly didn't have things to her liking.  Still, no lives were lost, she appears to have come home undamaged and she lives to fight another day.  So that's fine.  And in most other respects, it was a very pleasant afternoon too, even though it was colder than I would have liked.  And even though one can no longer buy little pots of muscles/whelks/cockles etc. nor halves/pints of local real ale - and an afternoon at Yarmouth has been considerably worsened for the fact these items are no longer on sale, a fact about which the racecourse executive ought to be ashamed but probably isn't.

There were plenty of winners whom I was delighted to hail, including the winner of our race, strange though that may be to say, as it fell to our neighbour Charlie McBride.  Overall, though, the star of the show was Cathy Gannon, on her second day back from a break of less than five weeks, a remarkably short time in which to recover from a broken jaw.  She'd resumed at Salisbury the previous evening with one winner from a few rides, and she cemented her comeback yesterday with a double on Brown Pete (pictured) and Cut The Cackle for Richard Guest, which really was good going.  Proof that it takes more than a broken jaw to keep a good and brave jockey down for long.

Less satisfactory was Dave Morris' day.  He came close to winning with quarter of his stable yesterday as Zaheeb, with whom he has done so well since buying the horse out of Mick Channon's stable for virtually nothing, looked like winning for much of his race, only to throw it away by lugging in behind the winner in the closing stages.  And, unfortunately, that good but very unbold run was not backed up by the performances of the half-brothers Chez Vronnie and Cragganmore Creek, the first of whom didn't want to go down and the latter (pictured trotting merrily towards the finishing line under Martin Lane) didn't want to come back.  Or rather Cragganmore Creek did want to come back, but only slowly.  So if you've noticed that Cragganmore Creek was pulled up and are worrying that he's gone amiss, you can rest assured that the old boy hasn't, as the smirk on his face in this photograph shows.


bigalp said...

Many thanks for showing Jayne and I round the yard it was much appreciated and enjoyed. Glad to witness the return of the shorts. Hope you have a very successful year and take care.

John Berry said...

You're welcome. Always good to see you when you're down.