Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A good morning

November has been a fairly bleak month, notwithstanding that I suppose we've possibly had less rain than we might have done, and it's been less cold than might have been the case.  Those qualifying observations only provide slender comfort, though, and it feels as if we've been in winter for quite a long time already - which is a sobering thought as winter, which I regard as starting on 1st December, hasn't actually started yet.  Anyway, this morning was, relatively speaking, very nice, as we had clear skies from the outset (and, surprisingly for a clear night at the end of November, it wasn't frosty) and when the sun got up things were beautiful.

Conditions were probably at their most splendid second lot when we were up at the Links, which was nice - and it was particularly nice as Sean Boyce and a cameraman were there, filming for an At The Races feature on the National Hunt branch of Newmarket's training set-up.  They had plenty of horses to film as Neil King had plenty up there, we had Douchkirk and Wasabi, Amy Weaver had some and Julia Feilden had some.  (Lucy Wadham, the town's most successful jumps trainer, wasn't schooling any this morning, but Sean was due to film in her yard later on).

Anyway, this should make a lovely feature, as the weather gave them every chance to get some beautiful film clips for it.  I don't know when it'll be on the TV, but we'll keep a look out.  David Crosse rode our two jumpers this morning, which was very good as he's a very good rider indeed.  He's been coming up from Lambourn reasonably often recently and his help is much appreciated.  Frankie (Douchkirk) is a very experienced jumper, but it was particularly good to see Wasabi, a nice but lightly-raced four-year-old stayer whose sire Tiger Hill does very well with his jumpers, fare very well indeed under David's tuition on only her second jumping lesson.  She'd been in the loose school and then had a very small amount of basic ridden jumping on a previous occasion, but this, her second lesson, was a much bigger step forward.  She jumped the baby jumps and then the small hurdles very well.  Hope springs eternal!

One brahma came when Wasabi went over to the (smaller) proper hurdles.  I hadn't anticipated that she'd get this far in this lesson, but she was jumping so well that it made sense, and David was all for it.  I happened to be on Frankie at the time.  He would, of course, have been a perfect mate for a learner over hurdles - but I wouldn't be!  Anyway, Neil King kindly let one of his horses go up the hurdles with her on her first go (and then she went up, very well, on her own) and that got me off the hook.  But the brahma was that I was able to take advantage of one of the very few perks of getting old: I explained to Sean that I wasn't going to ride over hurdles because I'm too old for that nowadays - and then added, chuckling, that I now had that good excuse, whereas a few years ago I'd have had to fall back on the truth, ie that I've never been either good enough or brave enough!

As always happens, predictably the beautiful weather didn't last all day.  When Hugh and I were riding down from Bury Hill midmorning conditions were still splendid (as you can see in the previous paragraph, which shows Shelley Dwyer riding lovely old Mia's Boy) but by late morning, when Indira did some stalls work with Iva (and that was very pleasing because one would never see an unraced two-year-old with better barrier manners) we were already starting to find the skies clouding, so by the afternoon we had reverted to the conditions with which we have been all too familiar recently.

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