Sunday, July 05, 2015

Busy summer

There always seems to be a very busy period at some point in the summer, and this year it appears to be happening now.  I was on the road for four consecutive days last week, Tuesday to Friday inclusive.  That included two evening meetings (Kempton Wednesday and Newbury Thursday) which I generally find a struggle - and Friday's afternoon racing at Doncaster probably ended up as tiring as an evening meeting, courtesy of the usual summertime Friday traffic chaos, with its seemingly obligatory accidents and road closures.  Saturday (yesterday) was also a busy day, but for a different reason: it featured Newmarket's Carnival, which for me meant that this year it was a busy day as I performed my mayoral duties.

Now coming up I can look forward to Windsor tomorrow evening which will be another very late night; a very busy day on Tuesday courtesy of an afternoon stint on At The Races; Wednesday dominated by the unveiling ceremony of this year's Legends of the Turf (a project of which I am chairman); and Thursday evening at Epsom (Roy Rocket in the race which Ethics Girl won last year, which might not be as daft a challenge as one might think because, although he is significantly her inferior as a racehorse, he will carry considerably less weight).  So, with these trips planned, today, the only day in the period with nothing inked in, was a very busy day as I tried to catch up on things which I've overlooked and also to get ahead of myself with writing the two weekly articles which I have to submit no later than Tuesday.

Still, it's good to be busy.  Especially if one is busy with projects one enjoys.  Wednesday's trip to Kempton was wonderful as it took place on, apparently, England's hottest day since 2006, with Kempton enjoying late-afternoon temperatures around 35C.  And it was not a disappointment as, although Grand Liaison finished unplaced, she still ran adequately, and I had made sure that we did not go there with high expectations bearing in mind that (a) the tempo of the race was likely to be unsuitable (which it was) and (b) she is arguably harshly handicapped at present anyway.

Thursday's trip to Newbury was also very pleasant, not least because it was another glorious summer's evening.  Hymn For The Dudes ran a pleasing first race (notwithstanding that he finished last) and conducted himself very well.  He is very, very sensible, with his only quirk being that he is 'cold-backed' (ie prone to jumping around when being mounted).  Once the rider has been on him for a few seconds he's exceptionally well behaved but, even eight months after being broken in, he still hasn't outgrown his cold-backedness.  Still, I know what to expect so we took precautions, which basically involved Hannah riding him around the stable yard before we took him to the parade ring, firstly in her usual exercise saddle and then in Andrew Mullen's racing saddle.

This, coupled with my putting Andrew on him indoors rather than out in the open of the parade ring, ensured that all went off very smoothly and safely.  The only disappointing thing was the attempts by officialdom to thwart my plans to make things as safe as possible.  Happily, I take my responsibilities towards the safety of the horses and riders under my command more seriously than I take petty red-tape, particularly petty red-tape created by people not qualified to create it and which is seemingly designed only to thwart people's attempts to minimize danger. But, even so, it was both disappointing and frustrating to find obstacles put in the way of the safety of one's riders.

There was an element of frustration and disappointment at Doncaster too, but in this case it was nobody's fault.  And it was only a very, very small element too.  Cottesloe looked to be coming to win his race, but he faltered in the final strides, seemingly shying away from the whip used (completely correctly and legally) by the jockey on the eventual winner, and he managed to turn what looked likely to be a narrow victory into a narrow defeat, finishing second, beaten a head.  But that's only a very, very minor disappointment.  In general, I am always happy when the horses run well; and he ran well, and I came home happy.  I also came home intending to run him in blinkers next time, incidentally.

And as for tomorrow's outing?  Well, Windsor on a Monday night is usually a pleasure, and I hope that it will be a pleasure tomorrow too (although in an ideal world our race would not be quite as late as 8.40).  I'm really looking forward to seeing Fen Lady make her debut.  It is remarkable that we had a two-year-old runner last week, because we didn't have a two-year-old runner at any point in 2014 - and, even more pertinently, last year's two-year-olds are all still unraced, because we haven't had a three-year-old runner thus far in 2015. But that will change tomorrow when Fen Lady (who did actually get close to running last year, only to be sent off for a spell because she was coughing) makes her debut.  I'd be surprised if she were able to overcome her inexperience enough to figure in the finish, but she's a nice filly, and it will be good to get her started.

Illustrating this chapter we have a couple of photographs of So Much Water in the yard here earlier in the week, photographs which give a correct impression of how lovely the weather has been; then Grand Liaison and Silvestre De Sousa heading out onto the track at Kempton, followed by the temperature reading at the racecourse that very warm evening; then two photographs of Hymn For The Dudes with Hannah in the stable yard at Newbury on Thursday; then Cottesloe and John Egan in the parade ring at Doncaster on Friday; and then lastly, in this paragraph, tomorrow's debutante Fen Lady, pictured on the Heath with Hannah a few days ago.

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