Saturday, November 16, 2013


We had two winners in August (although if you read the Form Book you'd think we only had one because, while Gift Of Silence's win at Yarmouth is included, Take Me There's Town Plate success isn't) but since then we've hardly had a horse run well, never mind win.  Ethics Girl ran OK at Bath in September, notwithstanding the fact that she finished maybe eighth, but that's about it.  So that barren patch made Fen Flyer's third place on a clear autumn evening at Kempton yesterday even better, and it was good enough anyway.

Fen Flyer was previously trained by one of the best trainers in Britain, Chris Dwyer, but his form for Chris was very poor, simply because Chris had him as a two-year-old and spring three-year-old, when he wasn't ready for racing, physically or mentally.  He ended up rated 30, and being something of a problem child.  The upshot was that, as he had become a bad box-walker, the decision was taken that he would come to somewhere where the horses spend plenty of time outdoors, so he came here - and as he'd had a year out of training in the interim and had matured a lot in that time, we had a decent chance of finding him a much better horse.

It could not, though, of course be guaranteed that he would indeed improve.  He'd been doing everything right at home - but then that possibly wouldn't mean anything, especially with his workmate Russian Link seemingly being unable to keep up in a poor 11-furlong maiden on Monday, which seemingly suggested that he'd be completely unable to cope in a 7-furlong race yesterday (although, as we are so often reminded, home work is only a very, very rough guide to how they'll run on the course, if taken merely at face value).  As, indeed, did his rating of 30.  As it turned out, though, he did himself proud

He did everything right on raceday, travelling down well, not box-walking in the stable-yard, keeping his cool in the parade ring, cantering down to the start relaxedly, behaving at the start - and running well to finish third.  And the icing on the cake was that he was completely unstressed afterwards, and seems to have come out of the race very well.  So that was lovely.  Even if one were accustomed to having horses run well it would have been a very, very pleasing day; but we aren't, so it was extra-good.

What was also good about our trip to Kempton last night was that we were the first race (4.20, just before dusk) and then the second race winner was trained by our neighbour Mark Tompkins.  This was great.  Mark is in the same boat that we're in, having had a very quiet season, so it was great to see him win a two-year-old maiden with a staying-bred Beat Hollow filly.  And he'd had a two-year-old run second in a maiden race the previous day too.  So that's nice - and another of our neighbours, Willie Musson, is in great form, having had four winners in the past couple of weeks, while Charlie McBride had a winner earlier this week, and Don Cantillon took two horses to Wincanton on Saturday and both ran very well to be placed.  So that's all good

And what was particularly nice today was that Toby Coles, who isn't exactly in our little corner but who is not far away in the Fordham Road and definitely qualifies as a member of our gang, trained a 33/1 two-year-old winner, the first winner for his young apprentice Alfie Warwick.  Toby too has endured a very quiet season, so that was great to see.  On which subject, I should credit him with brahma of the day yesterday.  He'd hosted a lovely dinner party on Saturday night in honour of his girl-friend Rolline's birthday, stipulating that one should come in fancy dress, inspired by "What I always wanted to be".

It was easy for me as I just wore normal clothes (jeans, shirt) and then donned an Akubra, being either the Man From Snowy River or his mentor, Clancy of the Overflow.  (And if you don't know them, read A. B. 'Banjo' Paterson's poems 'Clancy of the Overflow' and 'The Man From Snowy River' - and for light relief see if you can find the modern skit 'Nancy of the Overtime' - and I have to admit that I fall well, well short of Clancy's description, "And Clancy of the Overflow came down to lend a hand / No better horseman ever held the reins / And never horse could throw him while the saddle girth held tight / He'd learned to ride while droving on the plains").

Anyway, I'd assumed that Toby, as an Old Harrovian, would just wear and Old Etonian tie, but he surprised me by dressing (very authentically and with typical panache) as Sir Walter Raleigh.  Anyway, word had later reached me that after I'd gone home on Saturday, several of the party had gone to de Niro's, the infamous 'night club'.  When I saw Toby last night, I hit him with, "I hear that you ended up in de Niro's on Saturday night.  Please, please, please tell me that you were still Sir Walter Raleigh when you did".  To which Toby came up with the excellent reply, "I might be mad, but I'm not stupid"!  Good one.

First three photographs taken at Kempton last night.  The remainder taken today (Friday).

1 comment:

Lindsay MacDonald said...

John, I saw your mention of "Nancy of the "Overtime", and wondered if you can point me in the right direction to find it? I had a copy years ago, and lost it, and have been searching for it ever since.

Thanks, Lindsay