Sunday, December 16, 2012

Long days but good ones

Yesterday was wrongly described by many as featuring a 14-race card at Wolverhampton.  That's not true, of course - but there were two 7-race cards there, so it was a long enough day.  As we found out.  We had one runner at each meeting (the afternoon meeting transferred from Southwell and the evening meeting which was one of Wolverhampton's proper fixtures) and, while we hadn't planned things too badly in that our two races were only two and a half hours apart, the gap between the first race featuring a horse which had travelled on the box on which we went and the last race featuring a horse from the box was considerably bigger than that.

Fortunately, though, Saturday was much, much drier than Friday. We'd been to Wolverhampton on Friday evening with Ollie, who features in the first two photographs in this chapter, which don't tell you much about Ollie but do give a fairly good idea that it was really, really wet.  The fact that he's wearing a paddock sheet says it all: as I don't think that horses should be allowed to parade in sheets or rugs (the parade, after all, is to  let people see the horses) I practice what I preach, and only use paddock clothing in exceptional circumstances, ie a deluge like the one we endured on Friday.

Anyway, Ollie ran OK, even though he didn't beat very many, and the nice thing was that not only was the weather better on Saturday, but so were the runs.  Our runner at the afternoon meeting was Tommy (Platinum Proof), who features in this paragraph and the next, and he ran a really nice race to finish a close fourth in his maiden race.  He improved at least ten lengths on the winner compared to their running at Lingfield three weeks previously so that was very pleasing.

He's done enough for one preparation, so he can take things easy for a while now and we can rest easy in the knowledge that he's shown enough for us to be justified in looking forward to his future.  You can see from the 'before' shot that he's still relatively unfurnished and so should improve - and you can also see from the 'before' and 'after' shot that our race was run just about at dusk - which as it was the 3.50 gives us a good reminder that the winter solstice is nearly upon us - and then it's downhill all the way to spring and summer, yippee!

We then had Magic Ice (seen in the fifth and sixth photographs) running at 6.20 and she, too, ran very pleasingly.  In fact, one could arguably say that he ran even more pleasingly: it had taken Tommy until his third run to get close to the principals, but on Saturday she did so first time out, finishing fifth, beaten about six lengths.  She's still a bit of a baby as she showed when it was time for the jockey (Tom McLaughlin, who rode all three of ours) to mount, but overall she coped extremely well with every aspect of her first trip to the races.

So that was good.  As was the fact that Wolverhampton was the venue for the double-header.  We were at the races for about 10 hours (basically loaded up down the bottom of Exeter Road at 8.30, arrived at Wolverhampton 11.15; left Wolverhampton at 9.15, unloaded at the bottom of Exeter Road as the church clock was chiming midnight) and, if one has to be at a racecourse for 10 hours, Wolverhampton's not a bad one to chose.  And the reason for this is primarily the 'home from home' feel of the canteen.

I generally have something to eat in the canteen at the races and one generally gets good food and a friendly welcome, but rarely is the welcome as warm as that which one receives at Wolverhampton.  So it was a pleasure that Wolverhampton was the venue for a day at the races when I found myself eating my (late) breakfast at the course and then being there long enough to have my dinner there too.  So that was great, and meant being there for far longer than normal was a pleasure rather than an imposition.

So that was the story of our trips to the races.  Plenty of travelling and long days, but overall a pleasure, and not only for seeing the horses run well.  As you'd imagine, I slept well eventually, as I'd imagine that the horses did too, but it was great to see them eager for their food on their return home at the end of a long and what could have been a stressful day for them.  You can see Magic Ice and Tommy in the last two paragraphs at half past midnight this morning, tucking into their feeds back in their home stables and waiting to have their rugs put back on them.  Looks like they're enjoying their dinners, which is good as they'd certainly earned them.

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