Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Par for the course in a numbers game

Yesterday was the best day yet.  It began foggy, and even as we were heading home during first lot it was still very dull.  But by 8.30 the sun was breaking through, and ultimately we were treated to the best day of this excellent summer so far, with the temperature peaking mid-afternoon at 31 degrees.  The photograph in the second paragraph, taken during the last lot of the morning, gives an idea of how things ended up.  And even when conditions were murky early on, visibility was still good enough to let me take a photograph which gives me a lot of pleasure, and which adorns this paragraph.

It was the perfect day to take it, too: the morning after the conclusion of the second Ashes Test (at Lord's) - which, of course, should have been the last day of that test, but for England having wrapped things up in the final over of the fourth day.  So it was great to enjoy some post-Test Match banter with two legends of the great game - and I feel that I hardly need identify these two living legends, former England and Essex captain Keith Fletcher on the left and Mikey Holding, arguably at one time the best bowler in the world, on the right.  We're lucky with the characters into whom we bump on the Heath, and these are two of the best.

Today's weather was less good, as the thunderstorms forecast for midweek arrived a bit early.  Or, rather, the thunder and lightning arrived during the night with, oddly, virtually no accompanying rain; and then the rain came during the morning, probably only an hour or so, but torrential.  When we were riding down beside the Moulton Road, soaked to the skin but still very warm, the rain was falling so heavily that the whole road was under water, rather than just its edges.

I won't put up a picture taken in the rain (in fact, I didn't take any that lot as wisely I'd left my camera in the house, which was good as it might have been irreparably damaged by getting saturated) but the previous paragraph shows the view as Grand Liaison and Ethics Girl, with Terri and Iva, set off for the last lot of the day.  The rain had stopped, the sun was coming out - and our bloody moat, which we have to tolerate for all autumn, winter and spring, had returned!  But at least the weather was good for that lot, which was good as Barrie Catchpole and Mike Meaney had come to see Grand Liaison, and we wouldn't have wanted to be standing up on the Heath in the rain waiting for them to appear around Side Hill (as shown here, with Grand Liaison on the lead).

Anyway, I'll just end with an interesting observation.  Today is the 23rd July and we haven't had a runner this month yet, which is remarkable as it should be the busiest month of the year.  Our most recent runners (Ethics Girl and Gift Of Silence at Carlisle) were on 26th June, so things are a bit quiet, with a few horses avoiding the firm ground and the odd one having a rest.  But, as I was reminded today when reviewing the fortunes of my XII to Follow, we, with our handful of horses in training (10 at present, which includes ones who are only in slow work) aren't having things unduly quiet, but are merely a representative subsection of the bigger picture.

Take my XII To Follow (which is actually quite a good list and is about a third of the way down the league).  During July these twelve high-class horses (eight of whom - Battle Of Marengo, Camelot, Dawn Approach, Leitir Mor, Olympic Glory, St Nicholas Abbey, Toronado and Wise Dan - have won during the term of the competition, which began with the start of the Craven Meeting in mid-April) have accrued one third place (Leitir Mor, third to Darwin and Gordon Lord Byron in the The Minstrel Stakes at the Curragh on the Saturday) between them, while two of them (Moth - broken leg on the Ballydoyle gallops, retired to stud; St Nicholas Abbey - broken leg on Ballydoyle gallops, racing career over with future worryingly up in the air at present as he awaits surgery tomorrow) have suffered career-ending breakdowns.

Furthermore, two of my XII (Saburo and Sapphire) appear to have disappeared off the face of the earth, despite the fact that they were seemingly in good heart in the spring.  So we shouldn't be too worried: the overview of my XII to Follow list suggests that we're making par in this most attritional of games, in which having a large team is necessary to hide the fact that the majority of horses achieve little of note and get things wrong with them, while the minority thrive - and, of course, if you have plenty of horses, your minority will be big enough to make it look as if all is rosey in your garden, while if you only have a handful, your minority will be so small that the uninitiated will think you're an idiot.

Ah well, we won't worry about that - especially not when the weather's lovely.  Final three photographs taken two days ago (Sunday, another lovely day after an overcast start) by the way, with Ethics Girl standing tall and Roy putting himself to bed to keep himself fresh for his race at Yarmouth on Thursday.

1 comment:

neil kearns said...

Quick Michael Holding tale several years ago when MH was at Derbyshire they played Cheshire in the then Gilette Cup myself and several mates all of us who played to a reasonable level and were mates with a lot of the then Cheshire side went to the game and were going onto a Chester night meeting

MH on seeing my racing bins enquires of me where the local bookies -pre mobile days- was as Michael (now Sir M) had one running in the maiden which he wanted to back armed withe news
At the next break the great man disappeared from the ground .About 10 or so years later I am on holiday in Jamaica and a friend who lives there gets us tickets for a dinner where the great man is guest speaker post speeches I am introduced and MH says mucuh to my shock I recognize your face I regalle above tale he looks quizzical and says you know man I am sure that ××××××××× lost