Thursday, November 27, 2014

Good night

Despite the fact that both horses finished unplaced, I was very pleased with just about every aspect of the trip to Kempton last night, notwithstanding that it meant an after-midnight bedtime.  (Although the fact that I had a sleep in the driver's seat of the truck while I was there obviously helped in this regard).  The traffic was good both ways, and this helped Roy to put his misbehaviour of his previous outing behind him.  Going there and coming back, we wouldn't have known that we had a horse in the back, never mind two, so quietly were they standing.  And Roy did everything right in the race too: he finished fifth, probably beaten just under two lengths, and was the strongest finisher.  That's always good to see: as Henry Cecil used to say, one doesn't need to take binoculars to the races (this, of course, was before the days of being able to watch the race on close-circuit TV) as one could see what one needed to see with the naked eye - they either hit the line strongly or they don't, and that is all that matters.

So that was good - and I'm delighted that it now looks as if I've been dumb enough to have been running Roy in the wrong races for the best part of two years.  And, while Magic Ice's run was disappointing as she only finished tenth, it wasn't all bad with her either.  She travelled beautifully during the run and went very well for three quarters of the race, but then did not finish the race off.  However (and this, of course, is Mr Optimist talking again, as usual) it wasn't all bad: if Roy can run well in such a race, then so can she.  When expecting her to be at least as competitive as Roy, I had probably underestimated in advance the usual guide that lack of recent racing tends to be an even bigger disadvantage on the AW than on the turf.  In hindsight, she probably just needed the run, and I'm sure that we'll get there in the end.  With both horses.  And on the subject of looking ahead with optimism, our two young riders (Hector Crouch on Roy in the first paragraph, Paddy Pilley on Magic Ice in this one) both did everything right and look to have good prospects of making the grade.

Further topics?  Well, I was chuckling in advance of the race that, had I had to scratch Roy for any reason, the fact that he was drawn 14 of 14 would, no doubt, have drawn a few knowing looks from the smart-arsed cynics.  But the brahma was that I was really, really happy to find him thus berthed: as he can be restive in the stalls, if I had been able to pick my own barrier I would have said with no hesitation, "Fourteen, please".  Apart from that, the further brahmae were that we were racing against Brigadier Gerard's dam (La Paiva) and that our race took place an hour after the only Moroccan-bred horse whom I have knowingly seen/touched (who is now surely the only horse to have won at Casablanca and been placed on the AW at Kempton in the same year) had gone round.  And the final brahma: we had a Movember champion on course.  Yes, not Merv Hughes or Chopper Read, but Godolphin box-driver Greg Davis.  Magnificent, isn't it?!

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