Friday, January 11, 2013

Talking people

I enjoyed a nice diversion this morning, spending a rare lot on foot on the Heath.  I very rarely go out to watch the string exercising: during the large majority of lots I'm riding out, so I never feel the need to head out to observe on the few occasions when I'm not in the string, instead preferring to use the time for some of the many other tasks which need to be done each day (or wasting it writing a chapter of this blog). But this morning I spent an hour or so out on the Heath (about 10 seconds of which were spent watching three of our horses canter out of the fog on the Side Hill AW and then back into it).  The reason was that Newmarket had a visitor from South Australia, the Adelaide race-caller Terry McAuliffe, so I took him up to the Heath so that he could observe some of whatever was happening.

It worked out really well.  It wasn't unpleasantly cold, it wasn't raining, the fog was considerably less thick than yesterday, and we caught a good slice of Newmarket life in the half-hour we spent on Warren Hill, including by chance bumping into a couple of trainers who have had Melbourne Cup runners (James Fanshawe, who is pictured in the first paragraph chatting to a well-wrapped-up Terry, and Luca Cumani) and one., Ed Vaughan, who has had care of several Melbourne Cup hopefuls, mostly for Lloyd Williams but also including Fiorente, while they've been here en route to Melbourne.  It was very good.  I found it a very pleasant interlude, enjoying Terry's company; and I hope that he enjoyed the excursion too.  I didn't know him previously; he's a son-in-law of Adelaide trainer Leon Macdonald, whose jockey Clare Lindop had effected the introduction.

By chance, Terry was the second Leon Macdonald connection to visit here in the past couple of weeks.  Our friends from Sydney, Barry and Sue Wallace (pictured in the previous paragraph out in the hot and dry yard here in July Week in 2010, when they were over here with Michael Rodd, who's holding the horse in that picture), were in England  recently and came up on the train from London to visit us for the day on the last Sunday of December.  They had recently been owners in Leon's stable, having sent their Flying Spur mare Hobbs down to South Australia in the (vain, as it turned out, unfortunately) hope that it might be easier for her to win a maiden race there than in provincial NSW.

Barry was formerly an apprentice in NZ and worked as stable foreman at Caulfield in the '80s for Angus Armanasco and Rob McGuiness (pictured above in his stable - which is seen in this paragraph - in 1990 with Dr Geoff Chapman, whose horses used to stay in Rob's stable when they were down in Melbourne from Sydney for the Carnival) before training for a while in firstly Flemington and Rosehill; and he and Sue now run their travel company Nemonic Concepts, named after a good horse which Barry used to train.

On the subject of our colonial cousins, two jockeys rate a mention in dispatches while we're talking people.  The former Geoff Lewis apprentice Peter Hutchinson (pictured here on the Severals with his former Geoff Lewis colleague Jon Adams, who is now one of Jeremy Noseda's foremen, when he was over here in September 2010 - and this photograph, now that I've dug it out, is particularly poignant because the late and much-missed Jane Reid can be seen in the background, on the right, on one of James Fanshawe's horses) has finally had to hang up his boots, having broken his leg (again) very badly in a trackwork fall at Caulfield about 10 days ago.  Peter's done well to keep going until the age of 46, but this wasn't a good way to finish, as I think that it will be months before he can walk again.

Peter had packed up riding for a few years until resuming three years or so ago - which career-move has been mirrored by a jockey who rode a winner at the first race-meeting I attended in Australia, a meeting at Yarra Glen a couple of days before Victoria Derby Day in 1990.  And here's the evidence, as Brian Werner rides towards the winner's enclosure on a horse called New Push.  Anyway, Brian Werner packed up riding six years ago at the age of 46 - and then resumed at Sandown on Wednesday, aged 52.  That's really, really good.  I gather that he's got three rides booked at Bairnsdale on Sunday, so fingers crossed he can find his well-deserved way to the winner's enclosure in the near future, if not to a Group One winner's enclosure, which he last did in 1986 (after the Newmarket Handicap).  God loves a trier, and this come-back is a really good effort.

While talking people, I can't end without paying tribute to the recently-deceased former trainer Jeremy Hindley, whose final year as a trainer (1987) was the first year I lived in Newmarket and who has spent the bulk of his retirement in South Africa.  As that implies, my path and his didn't cross that much, but in my mind they did as he was an inspirational figure in my mind while I was growing up.  He had been to the same prep school which I attended; and while I was there, and subsequently, his achievements were a source of inspiration for me.  In the sixth-form classroom there was a chair with his name on it, and I used to make sure that I sat in it.  Anyway, I only moved to Newmarket not long before he was leaving the town, so I didn't find myself meeting my hero.  You might think that that's just as well, going on Sir Mark Prescott's usually-sound advice that one should never meet one's heroes, as one is usually disappointed.  However, I did meet him once, and I certainly wasn't disappointed.  A couple of years ago, our ramshackle string of three or four waifs and strays was trotting up the side of Long Hill alongside the Moulton Road when Michael Stoute pulled his car over and called over to me, "Here's another old Aysgarthian for you".  Out stepped Jeremy.  I told the others to press on without me and stopped to chat for a few minutes, which was a real pleasure for me.  I'm so pleased that I met him that one time; and only wish that I'd met him more often, because by common consent - including among his many former employees who still work in the town, and that's a good guide - he was an extremely nice man, as well as a very successful trainer.

1 comment:

bigalp said...

It is never a waste of time writing a chapter for your blog John people enjoy them.