Thursday, June 26, 2014

Counting down to our own mini D-Day

Excuses, excuses, excuses.  Why haven't I written a chapter on this blog for a few days?  Well, I've been busy (again).  This time I've been even busier than usual because we're counting down the days until the unveiling ceremony of the Legends of the Turf commemorative walk in Newmarket High Street; and as I'm chairman of the Legends of the Turf committee, the buck stops here as regards making sure that what ought to be a successful event isn't a major stuff-up (which it could well be, especially if the paving stones aren't actually in the ground by then, which they aren't so far).

I don't know if I've mentioned this previously, but it's a great community project.  It's based on Hollywood's Walk of Fame, and there's something similar around Circular Quay in Sydney with paving stones for great Aussie writers.  In our case, we'll (touching all available wood) have six commemorative paving stones laid in Newmarket High Street by the end of next week, with the unveiling ceremony then taking place in the Jockey Club on the morning of Wednesday 9th July, ie two weeks yesterday.  And then there will be three more stones going in each year thereafter, ad infinitum we hope.  There are three categories (horses, jockeys, other) so we'll have two from each category this year, and then one from each category annually thereafter.

The inaugural Legends (and they have to be Newmarket-based Legends, so you won't see Nijinsky or Sir Gordon Richards or Martin Pipe) are Hyperion and Frankel, Fred Archer and Lester Piggott, and Sir John Astley and Sir Henry Cecil.  I won't go on any further about them because if you're interested you'll have a look at our website ; and if you're not, then there's no point in my banging on about it any more.  In the great scheme of things it's no big deal.  But it's a big deal to me at present, so I'm running myself ragged in trying to make sure that all falls into place in time and that the unveiling ceremony is not a dead duck.

Not, of course, that that's all I'm doing, because there's still the matter of training the horses.  Morning stables remain the biggest single part of the day; and morning stables tend to be quite long these days because we have one horse (whose hood-covered ears can be seen in the second paragraph, following Indira down Railway Land Sand sometime after noon today - and the fact that I could take a hand off the reins at the time tells you that things are going OK at present - and who can be seen eating her lunch afterwards in the third paragraph) who seems happiest going out when the Heath is quiet, which means late in the morning; which, in turn, means that morning stables, having started at 6.30, don't generally finish until sometime between 1.00 and 1.30 at present.  So you can see that, even though I'm very busy with other things, I'm not neglecting the day job, so don't worry about that.

My political commitments (if one can call them that) did come with some benefit this evening, however, as they meant that I saw two Derby winners, which was a real treat.  The post of Deputy Mayor is very far from a big deal, but it does come with the occasional benefit, and this evening's reception, hosted by the High Sheriff of Suffolk aka Newmarket racing vet Nick Wingfield-Digby, was one.  Kirsten Rausing kindly laid things on at Lanwades, with the icing on the cake being the stud's two resident Derby-winning stallions (Sir Percy in the previous paragraph and North Light here) marching past us as the cabaret.  That was a real treat - and let's hope that Gift Of Silence can provide another treat at Yarmouth  (which she possibly thinks is the only racecourse left in the world) tomorrow.  One has to live in hope.

As you can see, it's been another day of pleasant weather.

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