Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Surreal? I'll settle for sunny

After the wet weekend, we've had two divine days, notwithstanding that today began with thick fog which didn't start clearing until around 9am.  Yesterday, though, was pretty much unbroken sunshine from the outset, which was wonderful - other than that we headed up to Newcastle with a horse (Zarosa) who would have been ideally suited had it continued to rain.  Ah well - she ran well anyway, and the ground was beautiful.  And it's always a pleasure to run horses on lovely ground.

I generally go to courses, see poor turf, and rationalise that it's hard for the clerks of the courses to provide a decent surface now that all the courses stage so much racing and that the turf tracks consequently suffer a hell of a lot of wear and tear.  However, when one goes to James Armstrong's course (Newcastle) or to one of Neil McKenzie Ross' (Lingfield, Windsor, and formerly the best of the lot, the late and much lamented Folkestone), one tends to look at things from the other angle.  Why can't they all be like this?

Ah well, ours not to reason why.  Very few things in racing are exact sciences which one can perfect - as all trainers know only too well, from our own daily litany of cock-ups.  Anyway, it was 'good to soft, soft in places' on Sunday morning.  It was still thus described on Monday morning.  The day was perfect, and the track had been upgraded to good to soft by 5.10 pm, but was really basically just perfect good ground by that time. 

Zarosa would possibly be better suited by heavy going, but no sound horse could fail to relish galloping on that surface and she duly ran really well to finish 3rd of 14, beaten less than  length.  She was held up for a run halfway up the straight and would have finished even closer but for that; but that's just a minor quibble as it was great to see her put in such a bold run - and great to see her ridden so well by a very impressive and likable 7lb claimer, Joey Haynes, who was formerly one of the many pupils at Andrew Balding's academy but who has found it easier to stand out from the crowd since moving up north earlier this year.  He won't be a 7lb claimer for long; and he will be riding for this stable again.

So that was grand.  We have another long trip tomorrow - a longer one, in fact, Carlisle being maybe 270 miles away, compared to Newcastle's 250 - so let's hope that we can come home proud from that one too.  Fingers crossed we should do, as Ethics Girl rarely lets us down.  Let's also hope that the weather is as splendid (which it might be, as the final five pictures show that today has been lovely too) and the journey as congestion-free: we seemed yesterday to be too early for the Bank Holiday rush on the outward journey, and too late for it on the return trip.

And the icing on the cake of the return trip, over and above the glorious evening sunshine, was that Radio Two were marking the 40th anniversary of the release of 'Dark Side of the Moon'.  This broadcast took the form of Tom Robinson, who is as good at presenting radio shows as he is at writing, singing and playing songs, hosting a two-hour show between 8.00 and 10.00 in which he played several of the tracks from the album, a few other Pink Floyd songs, some songs from other bands which are considered to have been inspired by Pink Floyd - and then two real treats, a pick from each of Roger Waters and David Gilmour.

These proved to be real treats, as Roger Waters asked for Neil Young singing 'Helpless' and David Gilmour requested Leonard Cohen singing 'Anthem'.  Doesn't get any better than that, does it?  Well, sadly it didn't, as the much-heralded supposed highlight of the evening was a play between 10.00 and 11.00 written by Tom Stoppard and titled, 'Dark Side'.  This had had a terrific build-up, but sadly it proved to be one of those productions (you know, like Booker-winning novels) which one needs to be considerably more intelligent / artistic / intellectual / sensitive than I am to appreciate.  It did come with one brahma, but.

If it wasn't for the fact that I was driving while the play took place, I'd look back at it and think that I must have fallen asleep during it.  However, the fact that I'm still alive to write this blog suggests that I remained awake throughout.  Even so, I'd struggle to tell you that much about it, other than that it presented a series of moral / ethical / philosophical dilemmas (dilemmae?).  It was deliberately far-fetched, the type of creation which people who think that they know the meaning of the word 'surreal' (and I'm not one of those people, by the way) would describe as 'surreal'.

I always think that the overuse / miuse of  the word 'surreal' was best illustrated by Salvador Dali, who famously claimed that the difference between him and the surrealists was that he was a surrealist.  Anyway, the brahma was that one character in the play was called Ethics Man.  Is that a tip?  If she wins tomorrow, less than 48 hours after my listening to this play, should I point out the supposed coincidence of these two events happening within the same week, and say that watching the victory had been a(n almost) surreal experience?

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