Saturday, August 22, 2015

Perfect summer

Ah, this has been lovely.  Today (as this chapter's photograph's suggest) has possibly been the last day of 2015 when the mercury has hit 30 degrees centigrade (which is a slightly depressing thought, but we won't worry about that - and, of course, there's no reason why we can't hit that mark again at some point in the autumn, because I seem to remember Hugh and I heading down to Fontwell on 1st October a few years ago, and hearing on the radio in the box that that was the hottest October day ever recorded in England, where 30 degrees had been recorded somewhere in Kent).  But we won't worry about the fact that autumn's looming: we'll just enjoy a perfect day.

I think that we're supposed still to be enjoying warm temperatures next week; it's just that we've got the rain icon on each of the next five days.  But that, of course, could mean a few raindrops at one brief point each day, or incessant downpours - or, of course, the way meteorology still seems to be, it could mean that not one raindrop could fall in the next fortnight.  It's hard to think of it raining tomorrow, because we're heading down to Brighton with Roy (who else?) and, of course, Brighton is like Albert Hammond's southern California, isn't it?  It never rains there (or never seems to do so, from the point of view of this occasional visitor).

I won't be heading to Brighton with particularly high expectations.  I'll be expecting Roy to run creditably, but we've reached the time of year when 4yo+ handicaps don't exist, so the older horses have to run against the three-year-olds every time - and (almost) every time the three-year-olds win.  There are only seven runners tomorrow (and Roy is drawn six, which is a perfect stroke of luck for a horse who doesn't like to be in the stalls too long. as it means that he'll go in last) but two of them are three-year-olds, and the dividend for the quinella wouldn't be large were those two young horses to fill the first two places.

The highlight of today has been, of course, the Ebor, which was wonderful.  In general, God hasn't been deserting his supposedly preferred position on the side of the big battalions, but Joe Tuite and Oisin Murphy, two top men as well as top horsemen, combining to win the Ebor, was lovely.  And that follows David Elsworth and Silvestre De Sousa combining to win the Juddmonte International, and Michael Dodds and Paul Mulrennan combining to win the Nunthorpe, which was particularly good - especially from my point of view as lovely Mecca's Angel who won the race carries the same colours which the Gordon Richards-trained Tamalin bore in the early days of my awareness of the sport of kings.

The presence of Wesley Ward-trained runners in the UK must be a real thorn in the BHA's side, bearing in mind that the BHA has made such a stand against anabolic steroids.  (And I'm not suggesting that Wesley Ward uses anabolic steroids - but he is on record as saying that in the normal routine all the horses in his barn have a dose of clenbuterol every day, which is generally believed to be just a different method of skinning the same cat).  Wesley isn't breaking any rules and there's nothing that the BHA can do, but they must be tearing their hair out because training horses on clenbuterol is 100% agains the spirit of their rules, if not against their letter.

Paul Mulrennan and Michael Dodds would also, I feel, have been tearing their hair out had the result in the Nunthorpe been the other way round, as they'd previously finished second to Acapulco in the Queen Mary.  I was chatting to Paul at Great Leighs in the evening on Queen Mary Stakes Day, and he'd seemed very rueful in observing that Acapulco had looked like a four-year-old that afternoon.  But all was well that ended well this week, and it was lovely to see a thoroughly admirable trainer and a thoroughly admirable jockey combine to win the Nunthorpe, rather than finish second once again to their previous nemesis.

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