Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Taking inspiration from Scobie

The week started on Sunday (obviously - even though some people seem to think that a week starts on a Monday, which it might do in some countries for all I know, but in Christian and Jewish countries, ie those based around the Old Testament, it starts on the first day of the week, ie Sunday) and by Monday night we'd already had what would generally qualify as the result of the week.  Of course, if we have a winner, then from our point of view our own winner is the result of the week; but, leaving that aside, the ultra-brave victory of Grandad Mac at Southwell on Monday qualifies as result of the week.  He was hugely brave, but that was only part of it: the best parts of it were (a) that he's racing at all and (b) that that victory, his third of 2014 already, was a great result for and a great tribute to one of racing's nicest men, A. B. 'Scobie' Coogan.

Followers of jumps racing in the late '70s and early '80s will remember A. Coogan as a young Newmarket-based jumps jockey.  He rode a few winners but never graduated beyond the 'journeyman' category, which tells us plenty about how very, very competitive jockeying is, and tells us nothing about Scobie's skills, because he's a terrific horseman, a great rider.  (As, of course, is the man to whom he is talking in the first paragraph's photograph, taken at Yarmouth last year, another Newmarket-based jumps hoop of roughly the same time, Ian Watkinson, albeit Ian is a bit older than Scobie and didn't ride on into the '80s because of injury).

Anyway, that was terrific.  As far as I know, Grandad Mac was trained as a young horse by Jane Chapple-Hyam, winning a race and showing a bit of promise before sustained what seemed to be a career-ending bowed tendon when pulled up by Richard Hughes in a race at Salisbury in August 2012.  Then, I believe, he was given away to Scobie, for whom he, against the odds, resumed racing 15 months later.  He took a few runs to regain his form, but he's done that with a vengeance (as one says) since the turn of the year.  He's contested four races this month and won three of them, showing himself as genuine as Scobie, who can be described as saddler, builder, internationally recognised koi carp breeder and judge, singer, musician, owner, trainer, breeder, one of the hardest-working men I know as well as one of the nicest.

So that's nice: we've already had a full dose of pleasure from this week's results, so we're already ahead of the game.  And if we can manage a winner, or even a good run, ourselves, that would be the icing on the cake.  God willing, we'll definitely have one runner this week (Wasabi, pictured in the second paragraph on Monday morning having one final pre-jumps-debut schooling session at the Links, is declared to run at Fakenham tomorrow afternoon) and we might have another as Frankie/Douchkirk is entered on Friday and Saturday - but he's entered on Sunday too, and that, as we've established, is next week rather than this one, so whether he runs this week remains to be seen.

Yet more rain, by the way, which is just horrible, but we did at least have a couple of dry days on Monday and Tuesday (yesterday) with yesterday morning's welcome frost (and one doesn't often say that, but it did at least mean that it wasn't raining) led to a beautiful morning as the early-morning freezing fog began to clear as the sun started to get up during second lot - as you can see in paragraphs three, four and five.

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