Tuesday, March 04, 2014

The cast of the Cask

Roy (pictured looking typically perky after the race) ran a nice race last night.  He ended up finishing in the second half of the field, but he ran better than that would imply.  He was naughty because he reared in the stalls, something out of which I'd hoped that he'd grown, but he was very professional in the race.  He made a run towards the leaders in the first half of the straight and got into second position about 300m from home; but, being first up, he'd been too fresh early on, and paid the penalty by getting tired in the last 250m and dropping back.  It was a good resumption and, I hope, offered a strong suggestion that he should be in for a good year.

So that was a good way to end yesterday; and this morning's dawn was a good start to today, as it was a beautiful sunrise.  We had a frost last night - one of only a very few this winter, and not a hard one - but with the frost came, obviously, clear skies; and this meant that conditions were absolutely glorious as soon as the sun started to appear.  The skies remained cloudless through the morning, which duly went from strength to strength, even if the clouds did inevitably roll in early in the afternoon.

I hope that clear skies were also the order of the day in Yorkshire, because we could do with continued drying conditions at Catterick, where Frankie runs tomorrow.  We've been waiting for drier ground for him.  There's an argument to say that if we waited another week we'd be even more sure of getting it, but the decision has been taken that he runs tomorrow at Catterick, where the ground today was 'soft, good to soft in places'.  Let's hope that the ground continues to dry out.  Whatever happens, he ought to run well as he is very well.  You can see him in three photographs here, leading Indira around Bury Hill AW this beautiful morning.

Now, this blog isn't a tipping column, but I'll end with a tip (and with firstly a photo of some of Ed Dunlop's horses coming across the Bury Road midmorning, and then one of some Godolphin horses in the lovely sunshine 20 minutes later).  After my remarks about the five-minute preview rule in the last chapter, the last thing that you'd be expecting me to do would be to recommend a Cheltenham preview - but that's exactly what I'm going to do.

I had a chat to the popular racing media identity Paul Binfield at Kempton yesterday evening and enjoyed discussing the preview night at which he's going to be on the panel.  It's this coming Sunday in a pub called the Cask in Pimlico, and I'd say that it'll be a terrific night.  Tony Coleman (who is organising it as the Cask is his local) is another very entertaining identity on the panel, which also contains the Racing Post's Tony Smurthwaite (another nice man who is very good company) and - strange but true - the soccer editor of The Times, who will apparently (even stranger, but equally true) hold a Q&A session (about soccer, I presume) afterwards.

There's a man from the Mirror (not to be confused with the man in the mirror) also, and the starring turn is the man whose presence guarantees that it will be the best Cheltenham preview of them all: the world's most brahmatic jockey, Mattie Bachelor.  Mattie will be the most listenable previewer of all the 1,001 previews dotted around the British Isles, notwithstanding that he's unlikely to be riding at the Festival.  Nor leading up, even - that final observation being prompted by his great reply when, a few years ago when he was briefly in vogue because of having won the Hennessy on Carruthers, an interviewer rather mischievously asked him whether he'd be in the running to ride Denman (Walsh being unavailable, I presume) in that great horse's forthcoming race, to which query Mattie replied, "Ride Denman?  I wouldn't even be in the running to lead him up!"

Anyway, if you're in London on Sunday evening and at a loose end, I'd suggest that you head to the Cask.

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