Monday, October 13, 2014

Hitting the road

Today's Monday; but Friday, only three days ago, seems half a world away.  Friday morning was simply divine: brilliant sunshine, and when I left here at 2pm to head off to Musselburgh, the mercury was showing 20 degrees.  It was lovely.  And now, Monday?  It has rained all day.  So, with the 730 or so miles driven and the sharp change in conditions, you can see why three days ago seems a different world.  Even today, though, it wasn't cold, which made the constant rain easier to bear; and in Scotland, although considerably colder than it was here, it was still quite mild, so it's not been too bad.

I was out on my feet come the end of Friday.  We hadn't been in too late a race at Wolverhampton on Thursday night (7.20) but that still meant getting home around 11pm, which meant knocking off not much before midnight.  Friday morning was rush, rush, rush, and 2pm was the earliest I could get on the road after having done what I needed to do.  The Friday afternoon traffic on the A1 was as bad as one would expect in the summer, so when I arrived at Musselburgh just after 9pm, thence to arrive at the hotel just before 10pm, it felt as if the day had lasted forever.  But Saturday was a quiet day, albeit one which ended very late, so now I feel just about ready for the next trip: to Newcastle tomorrow.

The runners have been OK.  Maybe I'm too easily pleased, but I was happy with Energia Eros' run at Wolverhampton on Thursday night.  He'd previously lost his way, so finishing 14.5 lengths off the winner in a very good race, in which he carried top weight and gave weight to horses rated considerably higher than he is, was respectable, notwithstanding that he finished last.  And he was very positive all evening, took the race seriously and tried.  So that was fine: he just needs to have his handicap rating drop to a less unrealistic level so that he can run in suitable company (ie not find himself giving weight to the likes of Premio Loco and Emirates Flyer) and he'll be right.

Indira was slightly disappointing at Musselburgh, finishing fifth of seven, but she wasn't disgraced.  For various reasons, I don't think that we quite saw the best of her, but it's the end of a long campaign for her, and it was no disgrace maybe running a handful of pounds below her best.  Even at her best I can't see that she would have won the race as the first two finished six lengths clear of the remainder - but that's fine, as the runner-up, a magnificent horse, had cost 550,000 gns as a yearling and is by Sea The Stars from Doncaster Cup winner Alleluia and thus a half-brother to a Group One winner (Allegretto), so the fact that we can even be running in such class is creditable.  She's been a true star this season, and can now have a well-deserved holiday before starting to prepare for next season.

It was lovely to go to Musselburgh and to spend 24 hours in my homeland.  Unfortunately I didn't see much of Scotland because it was already dark by the time I crossed the border on Friday evening, and, having not left the racecourse until 6.30 on Saturday evening (after the 4.50 race), it was getting dark before I was only a few miles down the road on the return journey.  But even the views from the racecourse are lovely, as is the racecourse itself, and it was great to spend the day at one of Britain's best racecourses with friendly faces all around.

One man I was particularly pleased to see at Musselburgh was Jim Beaumont, who is on the committee.  It was rather like when you get wished 'Happy New Year' in June, because you are seeing someone for the first time this year: I was delighted to have the opportunity to congratulate Jim on part-owning the Grand National winner Aurora's Encore, notwithstanding that we're 18 months since the horse's victory.  It was just that this was the first time that I had seen Jim, one of the nicest men in a sport which is overflowing with decent people, since that great day, a day which had given me massive pleasure for knowing that few people would be more deserving of such a lovely result, or more appreciative of it, than Jim.

So that was the last trip. I got home just after 1.00 am on Sunday, but that drive was actually less difficult than the one home from Wolverhampton, because at least I'd spent the bulk of Saturday relaxing, not having had much to do before getting Indira ready for her race.  And now it's nearly time to head off up the A1 again, as we're in the 4.30 at Newcastle tomorrow with Indira, so that'll be a 9.00 departure in the morning.  I hope that she'll run well, and the ground is on the soft side which is fine - but, inevitably, the rain which made today so miserable in Newmarket today didn't come anywhere near Newcastle, so it's not as soft (ie not as suitable) there as it might have been.  Even so, we'll still set off full of hope.

The photographs in this chapter show Energia Eros and Ted Durcan after their race at Wolverhampton on Thursday night; a view across the course at Musselburgh shortly after dawn on Saturday morning; Indira enjoying the same view shortly afterwards; Indira and Rosie Jessop after their race on Saturday afternoon; a view across this stable shortly after dawn on Friday, a really lovely day; Gus and Bean mid-morning the same day; ditto; and then this final picture, also taken the same morning, of tomorrow's runner Zarosa, alongside her neighbour Fen Flyer.  Such a view would have been considerably less appealing today!

1 comment:

neil kearns said...

Congrats on a great season with Indira glad to hear she is getting a deserved break
All you need now is a similar star for the winter