Sunday, March 23, 2014


Yesterday (Saturday) dawned really, really splendid, as did today.  However, today it didn't last long at all and we seem to have gone back to winter as if it had been any colder the rain would have been hail or snow; while yesterday was lovely when the sun was out, but considerably less clement when it wasn't.  Yesterday's highlight was the trip to Stratford (for their second, not first, meeting of the spring) for Frankie to run.

The two photographs make it look very dismal, but it was actually very pleasant at times, although the very brisk wind made it rather bracing when the sun wasn't out (as it wasn't for our race).  Anyway, as regards the race, Frankie did his usual thing of running reasonably well without winning: again he looked a very plausible winner half a mile from home, but finished tamely.  In the end he finished third, beaten by horses trained by Gary Moore and David Evans, two of the very best trainers in the country, which makes it easier to swallow. 

And what made it even easier still to swallow was that the winner was ridden by Joe Akehurst, a good friend to this stable who gets very, very few opportunities but who is perfectly good enough to win any time that the horse is up to it, as he showed with a very nice ride on Osgood yesterday, his first winner for a long, long time.  He's had minor place-getters less distantly (including on Frankie at Plumpton last Easter, when they finished second) but this was a very well-deserved drought-breaker for Joe.  And I was delighted to see it (and photograph its aftermath, as you can see in the next paragraph).  

Surprise of the weekend was that my chapter on Pat Cosgrave's suspension has made it (without my permission) onto Mike de Kock's website.  Which is fine, except for the fact that my reference to Terry Spargo's calls has been highlighted (presumably only because the website editor had access to a photo of Terry).  This was unfortunate because the article isn't about Terry, who is a good, accurate caller (as he proved in Australia prior to going to Dubai, his good record in Australia being the reason why he got the job).  The point I was trying to make was that, until this draconian treatment of Pat Cosgrave, we'd had the impression that racing in Dubai is a cosy, friendly, relaxed little community - as is confirmed by Terry's adopted style of calling (which he'd never use back home, because it's very different to the style which every caller in Australia uses).

The invariably exuberant Dubaian style of race-calling involves frequently referring to horses by nicknames and to jockeys by their Christian names (only) during the races, and making references which local insiders will understand, but which a more remote audience might find baffling.  One thing one might say about this informal style is that Johnners or Blowers or whoever it was wouldn't have had the embarrassment of saying "the bowler's Holding, the batsman's Willey" (he'd have said "the bowler's Michael, the batsman's Peter") but another thing one might say (and this is the point I was trying to make) is that it gives the impression that this is a small, informal, friendly, close-knit little club where everyone's on first-name terms with each other and it's all rather jolly - ie that it's not the type of place where punishments are draconian.

Anyway, Stratford was rather jolly (despite the disappointment of the discovery that, if one takes one's pet otter or beaver to the races, one can't have a shower with him/her, as the previous paragraph confirms).  Let's hope that Towcester can be jolly too, because Wasabi runs there tomorrow.  The form book says that she has a bit to find, but she's very well, so shouldn't be disgraced.

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