Thursday, January 16, 2014

Past halfway

16th January draws to a close.  That's good.  That means that we're now past the halfway mark in January, which to my way of thinking means that we're past the halfway mark of winter (ie of the three months December, January and February).  We've got off very, very lightly so far.  For sure, it's been wet - very wet, in fact, over the last three or four weeks, even if less wet here than in other parts of the country - but it's not been cold.  We've had very few nights of frost, and only a couple when there's still been some of the frost visible at midday.  And none at all when we've been frozen solid.  Can't last this way, you'd have thought, but there's no sign in the forecast for the next week or so of much of a change.

What's been particularly nice is that the majority of the rain seems to have fallen during the nights, and we've had several days when we've had some really lovely spring-like weather for a few hours during the daytime, even if they've been sandwiched between rainy nights.  Tuesday, two days ago, was in particular a lovely day, as you can see in the first three photographs in this chapter.  What made it even better was that Wasabi gave a very nice jumping demonstration in a schooling session up at the Links, suggesting that she should cope with things nicely if, as is the intention, she makes her hurdling bow in a mares' maiden hurdle at Fakenham next week.

Yesterday's conditions were less nice, but at least, having already had one change of clothes by 8.30, I didn't get wet again as the rain eased off for the daylight hours, as the fourth photograph confirms (while the last three two show how nice it was again during the day today).  And what made things even more exciting was that there was a 'win-and-you're-in' race at Kempton in the evening.  What, you didn't notice?  Or you did notice, but weren't particularly interested?  Yes, the whole thing is very underwhelming, isn't it?

How's this going to work?  The last Saturday of the winter season (ie Winter Derby Day, ie the last Saturday before Lincoln Day, Lincoln Day being, as we know, the first Saturday of the turf season) is the perfect time to have a great finale to the winter season.  But going through the winter being told that it's exciting that we're leading up to a big day of AW racing on Good Friday - 18th April, the day after the Craven Meeting, six days after Greenham/Fred Darling day at Newbury, 15 days before the 2,000 Guineas, 27 days after the big finale to the AW winter season - is just sheer nonsense,.  Does anyone, other than the handful of people aiming a horse at one of the valuable races on that day, give a sh*t?

We know that RUK don't, that's for sure.  I watched the 'win-and-you're-in' race at Kempton last night on RUK; or, rather, I tried to, but it was hard enough to maintain any interest in the card, so badly was it being covered.  RUK has good presenters with plenty of interesting things to say, but they'd clearly been instructed as far as possible to act as if the racing at Kempton wasn't taking place.  They'd cut to a race as late as possible, cut away from it as soon as possible afterwards - all so that they could bore the audience to sleep previewing (yet again) some of the races at Cheltenham TWO MONTHS away.  When I found them going on about some horse running in the four-mile novices' chase, I gave up and switched channels.  How I'd kept the faith through the seemingly obligatory Champion Hurdle preview, God only knows.

Of course, plenty of people (most people) are more interested in the Champion Hurdle than in the 6.30 at Kempton AW in the dark in the middle of January.  But this programme was showing Kempton - nobody would have tuned in unless they wanted to watch Kempton.  And, equally pertinently, I am sure that the people who would, even having tuned in to watch Kempton, still prefer to think about the Champion Hurdle, I'm sure that they already know that Hurricane Fly is the reigning champion, and Jezki and Our Conor are top-class second-season hurdlers who either might or might not improve enough to win the race ...  Thank God it's Wolverhampton (ie ATR) tonight, but I'm sure that we'll have a repeat of this nonsense the next time that Kempton are racing in the evening.  If the channel showing the evening's race-meeting can't pretend to be interested in it, how on earth are the viewers meant to take it seriously or be enthused by it?

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