Friday, June 27, 2014


Another good run.  Another minor placing.  But still no winner!  Good old Gift Of Silence almost invariably runs well, and again she ran well to be placed, finishing third.  It doesn't really matter what distance or ground she encounters, her only requirement being to be ridden quietly, because she's quite headstrong and impatient, and over-races if allowed to do so.  When a horse needs to be ridden thus, he or she is dependent on the leaders going reasonably fast, otherwise making up the ground can be unfeasible.  Today?  Well, the first two home were the first two all the way, and she made up the most ground of the remainder, bless her.  Her day will surely come (again).

I drove through some very heavy rain around Thetford on the way to Yarmouth, which was alarming as the thought was running through my head that I'd forgotten to bring a jacket or hat.  Happily it stayed dry at Yarmouth until some time after our race, until the heavens opened and 6mm of rain fell on the track in a few minutes, changing the ground from 'good to firm, firm in places' to 'good'. I managed to stay under cover during the tempest, and the sun was shining again by the time I left; and by the time I left Sir Mark Prescott had trained his first turf winner of the year, and his first winner since the 'Start of the Flat' in late March.

This was particularly nice as I had had a treat on Tuesday.  I needed to deliver something to Sir  Mark, and preferably to see him when I did so, so I called into Heath House during evening stables.  He was midway through his tour of inspection, and he kindly invited me to join him in what remained of his "looking round", which was a real pleasure and privilege.  At that stage he hadn't trained a runner this turf season, but he said that he was set to unleash the team within the next few days; and the horse who got him off the mark today, old Solar View (pictured thrice in this chapter), was one of those whom I was lucky enough to be shown on Tuesday.

There were two particularly memorable exchanges during the tour which I'm sure that Sir Mark won't mind my sharing, both of which illustrate Sir Mark's supreme on-the-ballness.  While we were looking at one three-year-old filly, I ventured, "Oh yes, she won last year, didn't she?", to which he replied, "No - she ran four times and was placed thrice".  My riposte was, "Oh right; yes, I did remember her running well", which brought from him the almost incredible feat of memory, "Yes; you were doing the TV on At The Races the day she finished second at Bath"!

The second one was, if possible, even better.  He showed me a filly who had finished second in both her runs, most recently having been a beaten favourite in a maiden race at Wolverhampton just before Christmas.  I remembered her, and observed, "Oh, she's done well.  I saw her that day as we had a runner in the race, and she's done really well since then.  She didn't look  nearly as strong then as she does now".  His reply, "Yes, yours finished fourth in the race"!  Pure genius.  And now that he's opened the floodgates, I think that we can expect to see a torrent of winners gushing out of Heath House (as I'm sure every writer in the Racing Post will tell us over the next few days).

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