Monday, June 22, 2015

Dreams sometimes come true

There's always a story.  Whenever a really big race, eg the Grand National, comes under the spotlight, the press generally remark with wonderment that "there's always a story". But the truth of it is that there isn't just always a story behind big-race winners: there's always a story behind any winner, and the rarity comes on the few occasions when there's only one story.  There are generally several stories behind any winner, and our winner on Saturday evening, Cottesloe in the last race at Lingfield, has a better book of stories than most.  He was bred by the late, great Vincent O'Brien, named after one of the most magnificent beaches in the home state (WA) of the great man's widow, raced by her, and trained by their son Charles.  He has racing history in his background, but that ain't the half of it.

Our part of the story began when Stewart Brown, who hails from Lancashire, introduced himself to the master horseman John Egan one day at Wolverhampton last winter, confided that he had enjoyed no luck as an owner, said how much he would love to own a winner, and asked if John could help him.  The consequence was that they went to a Horses-in-Training Sale in Ireland in February, a sale at which Cottesloe, now aged six and the winner of two of his 23 races, was entered.  John suggested that he might be a suitable horse for Stewart, who duly bought him, with John's son David, aged 15, doing the bidding.

Cottesloe went off for a spell, and then went into a pre-training stable while the decision as to who would train him was made.  John was kind enough to suggest my name, and Stewart had enough faith in his recommendation to agree to this.  So in the middle of last month I went to collect him from Alice Haynes' pre-training yard in Hamilton Road one Sunday evening, riding him back here across the town.  We gave him a few gallops and, looking through his previous form, I used the evidence of his homework plus the evidence of the form-book to decide that a 10-furlong handicap on the AW at Lingfield on Saturday June 20th might be a suitable race for his resumption.

The only sad aspect was that Stewart was not able to come down to Lingfield as he was in hospital enduring a course of chemotherapy.  But his friend Steve was able to come, as were his daughter and son-in-law.  And Stewart was able to watch the race on ATR, as well as to keep in touch with us by telephone.  And - miraculously, joyously - the dream came true, as John Egan, giving this lovely horse the kind of flawless ride we have come to expect, brought him home the winner by one and a quarter lengths at 6/1.  That's some cake, and the icing on it was that John's son David, now aged 16 and shortly to begin a course at the British Racing School en route to starting his apprenticeship, completed the circle: having done the bidding when the horse was bought, he led his father up on the horse when he won.

Cottesloe seems fine after the race, and I hope that his connections are fine too.  I'm still smiling, anyway.  After the race I told Stewart that I was very grateful for the fact that he had entrusted me with his horse, and that I was very happy that I had been able to reward his trust, and very happy that the horse had won for him.  And all parts of that statement are very, very true.  I hope that we will be able to take Cottesloe to Doncaster on Friday week, as Stewart came out of hospital today and isn't due to return there for two weeks, so ought to be able to go to the races that day.  But, whatever does or does not happen in the future, the dream has already come true; anything else really would be a bonus.

More immediately, Roy, another horse with stories coming out of his ears, will be heading back to Brighton (where else?) tomorrow, where he'll try to write another chapter in his saga.  But he, too, has already brought a dream to life, so we'll just see what happens, and take it as it comes.  Like Cottesloe, Roy has already gone beyond the call of duty in bringing joy to his connections, so it really is the case that he's already done more than his bit, and anything further would be a bonus.  Cottesloe is shown in this chapter before the race twice, returning after the race once, jumping around in the field yesterday twice, and finally larking around with Roy yesterday.

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