Thursday, May 24, 2012


Summer's arrived, which is terrific.  The temperature this arvo must have been in the mid-20s, which I always reckon to be the perfect temperature.  It was still cold here on Monday, and Tuesday didn't start too warm either.  However, summer seemed to be reaching other parts of England by that stage, and we had a beautifully balmy evening at Kempton that day.  Yesterday and today both started very misty and the sun didn't appear until midday, but we've now had two absolutely glorious afternoons.  And today even started reasonably warm, although foggy as you can see through Kadouchski's ears, so I decided upon the true harbinger of summer: the shorts are out of their winter quarters, so let's hope that they are now on until November.

It did take until midday, but as soon as the sun had burnt the last of the mist off, we were straight into midsummer.  It was just wonderful.  And we celebrated by giving the horses the new field of grass, a bi-annual treat.  After all the rain, there is so much grass in there that it's almost up to their knees in places, but that, of course, won't last long.  I've delayed putting them in there as I wanted it to dry out (and the field we have been using is still, amazingly, very deep and muddy after all of the rain) so that they wouldn't just mess it up straightaway, but even so it'll be barren within a week.  But the first few days really are bliss for them, as you can see.   Looks like we've got Kadouchski, Ex Con, Silken Thoughts, Sail Past and Ruby all tucking in here.

As mentioned above, Tuesday evening's trip to Kempton was very pleasant, notwithstanding the fact that Orla's Rainbow (shown in the parade ring on his own and then, below, under Brett Doyle) didn't cut much ice.  I should have known better really than to run a debutant on the AW.  On grass you have half a chance if you get out the back early (and you're less likely to get out the back early as there isn't going to be such a scramble for the lead) - but on the AW if you do so, that's your race over if your horse isn't seasoned and isn't accustomed to having sand kicked in his face.

Our debutants are never as revved up as some others might be so, although Ollie jumped OK, he didn't muster as quickly as those outside him, and his good draw (1) soon became a bad draw.  Furthermore, another asset became a disadvantage on debut: he's a wonderfully laid-back little horse, notwithstanding the fact that he can be very colty, and that trait, which is likely to help him long-term, probably counted against him putting up too bold a showing on debut.  However, he conducted himself well throughout the day and it was an experience which can only have wised him up, as well as doing him good physically as well.  He remains a nice horse.

We have our other runner of the week tomorrow.  Batgirl is going to her second home (Yarmouth) and ought to run OK, as she generally does when she heads over there.  There are only seven runners and the conditions of this mares' race look just right for her - plus she seems in good heart, as you can maybe tell from the way she's shown here bounding around in the long grass this arvo, and then, below, tucking in alongside Silken Thoughts - but, although the race is weak numerically, it has a fair bit of depth to it, and it would be hard to go there too confident.  However, I'm sure that she'll do her best again, and that ought to see her as one of the main chances.

There are no end of local runners at Yarmouth, as one would expect, and I think that Dave Morris has three runners there, which is remarkable as he only trains four horses.  Mark Rimmer has two or three as well, Toby Coles has a runner in the last, and Charlie McBride has one in our race, as does James Eustace, so all in all it promises to be a very jolly day at the seaside.  I generally enjoy going to Yarmouth and, although I'd imagine that by the seaside it won't be nearly as hot as it's been here today (and I think that tomorrow is going to be cooler anyway) I'd imagine that we'll have some very pleasant weather to enjoy too.

As mentioned above, it was far from warm on Monday, the highlight of which for me was being a guest at the opening of Rous Memorial Court, which is a complex of Racing Welfare flats, created out of Admiral Rous' old hospital in Old Station Road.  This is an excellent development, lovely flats being made available to some really good people.  I was chatting there to some of the residents and they sum up the place.  Andy Gibson and his wife Angie showed me round their flat; and, if you think that that name rings a bell, that's because Andy won the special award at the Godolphin Stable Staff Awards three years ago.  Andy has had MS for a few years now and, although that obviously hugely restricts what he can do, he still works for Stuart Williams (about whom, it should be noted, Andy speaks glowingly - and as Stuart is as decent a man as he is good a trainer, let's hope that there's a big win waiting around the corner for the best horse whom he trains, Eton Rifles, whom he is pictured leading around in the chilly gloom at the bottom of Long Hill yesterday morning).  Andy is just the sort of person who deserves a helping hand, as does another resident Derek Brown - another whom you may remember, a former David Elsworth apprentice whom I best recall riding good old Floyd to win the Queen's Prize at Kempton back in the days when that race was a proper big race.  Derek's struggling a bit nowadays because he has had an infection in his spine, but I'm happy to report that he's doing fine now that he's safe in Rous Memorial Court.  So that was a very nice daytime outing (even if a cold one!) and the icing on the cake was meeting Princess Anne, who was opening the complex.  That was the first time that I have ever met a member of the Royal Family so that was a very special indeed.

I'll finish with quote of the day (as well as a couple of gratuitous photograph of Gus enjoying this evening's wonderful weather, and lairizing with Bean).  In one sense we are spoilt for quotes this week with it being Sheikh Mohammed Week in the Racing Post, and that's throwing up brahmae galore.  However, I'll look elsewhere for quote of the day.  Marcus Tregoning today confirmed Cavaleiro (who is not a hunter chaser and who was never trained by the late John Manners, lest there be any confusion) for the Derby.

Cavaleiro is likely to be one of the outsiders - but, unless I misread this, Marcus has explained the connections' decision to run with a splendid piece of the have-a-go sportsmanship which exemplifies the true spirit of the Derby: "If you take out the top six in the betting, it's a very open race".  Such sentiments have guaranteed that, while Camelot will be the only runner in the Derby for my XII To Follow (in fact, he's one of only two three-year-olds in my list, Beauty Parlour being the other), I'll be keeping a cheering eye on Cavaleiro as the race unfolds on Saturday week.

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