Friday, June 08, 2012

If only I'll Have Another was as tough as Kadou or Terry

Black Caviar, so we are told, arrived in town yesterday evening, and I'm afraid that she won't have found conditions much more appealing than those of the Melbourne winter whence she has come.  I was initially thinking that things weren't too bad because at least it wasn't cold - but by midmorning, when it was raining hard and blowing a gale, it was becoming increasingly hard to see any positives at all in our environment.

However, I'd seen a positive earlier on: a deer in Exeter Road, which was a rare treat.  Just a muntjak, of course, but he was really sweet as he scampered up the street (above) towards the Clock Tower sometime before 7.00.  He was rather alarmed, but fingers crossed the town was still quiet enough at that time for him to be able to find his way back to the Heath, and thence to whichever part of the surrounding woodland he calls home.  I hope that he was snug at home by the time the storm was at its peak three or four hours later - and this photograph really doesn't do justice to just how bad conditions were, as it gives little clue as to the strength of the wind.

The awful conditions, though, were in one sense quite appropriate, bearing in mind that the 'summer' season on the July Course kicked off with the aforementioned inter-hunts charity race; and hunting, of course, traditionally takes place in weather that usually isn't very clement.  To make it even more authentic I rode Kadouchski up to his assignment at the July Course: after all, were hounds meeting within a handful of miles from one's home, one would ride to the meet, rather than go by box.  And I went there well turned out: Anthony arrived here today, so he and Gus gave Hugh a hand in getting the horse ready, as you can see.  The weather aside (and it actually wasn't too bad while we were up at the July Course as the rain did ease off considerably at that time) it could be considered a happy and successful outing.

Kadou didn't manage to take his July Course record to two wins from two starts, but he did the next best thing, finishing a close and honourable second to the Toby Coles-trained Dear Maurice, who represented the Pytchley (in which country Toby's parents live) and was ridden by that hunt's master Will Spencer (seen heading towards the winner's enclosure afterwards, with Kadou following along behind, destined for the runners-up's berth.

Our rider Rob Ogden, huntsman of the Essex, rode very well, as expected.  He did everything asked of him, gave his mount every chance, and only finished second simply because Dear Maurice, who is a talented if quirky sprinter/miler, was too fast for him at today's distance of a mile, which is considerably less than anything over which Kadou would usually race under normal circumstances.

The photograph which I took of the finish tells the story, with the winner clearly going better just inside the final furlong than Kadou, who is giving brave but vain chase.  What a super horse Kadou is.  As I rode away maybe 30 minutes after the race, I bumped into David Simcock, who was just driving in to saddle a horse in a later race.  David looked at Kadou and remarked, "He looks as if he could go out and do it again", which was very astute as I'd say that Kadou could indeed have done just that (and, I hope, will go out and do something similar, over twice the distance, at Folkestone on Monday).  Horses this tough are in a small minority, as I was reflecting this evening when we got the news that the US Triple Crown dream has been dashed with I'll Have Another going from hot favourite for tomorrow's Belmont to non-runner in the blink of an eye.  I'll Have Another is a terrific horse, but he now faces retirement after something like seven races.  That ought not to be the way it is - but, as things are, horses like Kadou who can go out year after year and run well in pretty much whatever you want to put them in, and however often you want, really are worth their weight in gold.

Just before I close, I should add that a further pleasure of my trip to the July Course this afternoon was bumping into Terry Clement, who featured in a recent chapter of this blog as a heart attack victim.  Anyway, there was Terry, looking pretty much as he always looks.  He sort of confirmed that he had had a heart attack, replying to my implied query that I gathered that he'd been unwell by saying, "Yes, I had a bad turn and I'm told that it was a heart attack" in the same way that one might remark that the cheese sandwich which one had had for lunch the previous day hadn't been quite up to the usual standard.  But that's Terry: no fuss.  So it was great to see that he was up at the July Course this afternoon, no fuss at all and looking in good shape.  Seeing him there (pictured alongside Newmarket's popular gateman Bill Scott, who was throwing a toffee to Anthony just when this photographs was taken) was as good as having a winner.

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