Tuesday, October 30, 2012


So much for the easy journey to that easily accessible track Stratford.  The morning had kicked off in daunting style when I'd looked out of the window into the dark and worked out that the stable roof had a covering of snow.  I'd planned to retain shorts as my standard mode of dress until the end of the season (ie for another two weeks) but that sight suddenly made their replacement with long trousers a no-brainer.  And very glad I was too of my warmer clothing as Ethics Girl and I headed out into the dark past cars similarly dusted with snow.

Of course, the snow didn't linger as the ground was too wet for that, and what was falling duly turned, in turns, to sleet, hail and rain.  Things then took a further turn for the worse when I heard on the radio that the A14, the main arterial road out of East Anglia into the midlands, was shut just the other side of Cambridge.  Motorways being shut can lead to a standstill of a couple of hours, so I decided to bite the bullet, head south-west along the A505 to get on the A1 down at Baldock/Hitchin and thus, although adding maybe 35 miles to our journey, ensure that all would flow smoothly.  Which of course didn't happen when I found the traffic crawling up to the Black Cat roundabout just south of St Neots, taking over half an hour to cover a mile.

Anyway, we got to Stratford in time, remarkably, despite the journey having taken nearly an hour and a half longer than it should have done.  And the lovely thing was that it was a lovely day over there, like a summer's day only cold.  Which made a lovely change from how we'd left things here and how things remained here all day, apparently, as it rained most of the day on this side of Cambridge, even thought it was glorious farther inland.  Even Huntingdon would have had a lovely day.  So strange.  And Silken Thoughts was on very good terms with herself as you can see in the previous chapter's pre-race shot.  Furthermore, showing that every cloud has a silver lining, the fact that I approached the Black Cat roundabout at 1 mph with more than enough time to take in my surroundings ensured that an establishment beside the road called the Vanilla Alternative caught my eye; and I'm now enjoying being aware of its existence.  If you would like further details, just google it.  You'll be surprised.

But, of course, it had been plain from before daybreak that it wasn't going to be our day.  Silken Thoughts put in some lovely jumps and bowled along very happily.  AP McCoy fell off our principal danger at the third hurdle, leaving us with surely every chance of a win - and then she suddenly ground to a halt just after halfway.  As you may have read in the Racing Post and as you can see if you look closely in the previous paragraph, she bled.  Ah well, when they pull up you're just relieved if you find that they haven't broken down.  But, overall, this was a massive splinter in the bum on the ride down the bannister, so we'll just have to collect our wits and work out the way forward from here.

Anyway, let's look on the bright side.  It would be hard to overstate how unpleasant the weather here was at the weekend -  it would have been a bad weekend by the usual standards of January, never mind  October - but even so it was still a hell of a lot nicer than the hell which they're experiencing along America's eastern seaboard.  So we can't feel too sorry for ourselves - particularly not as we've actually had a few hours of sunshine over the past couple of days.  Midmorning yesterday was actually rather pleasant, allowing us to glimpse the acceptable face of autumn, with turning leaves lit up by sunlight against blue skies etc., as you can see here.

So things aren't quite as unpleasant for man and beast as they were or could be.  Gus, as you can see, is, of course, loving life, with his usual collection of strange deck chairs (eg a trough of damp soil, or Many Levels' rug) in which to soak up the sun's almost warmth-less rays.  And things would be even better if we could get a good run from Zarosa tomorrow at Nottingham, which ought to happen, really.  She should find pretty much everything in her favour on a track on which she has previously run very well, and should find 7 stone 9lb making things as easy for her as we can manage to arrange.  Fingers crossed.


racingfan said...

Hello John,

What will be the plan for silken thoughts? Watched the race and I am glad that its only a burst blood vessel (which is not a good thing) but could have been a lot worse,

thanks for the update and good luck for tomorrow,


AlanM said...

Oh if only I'd read the blog last night but I was away in the Lakes enjoying Michelin cooking.
Bravo John and team, well done