Saturday, October 31, 2015

The day of living dangerously

Today has been a nice day, a very nice day for the final day of October in fact.  It began murky, but even then was very mild; and then the sun broke through the mist mid-morning, and it was a glorious afternoon for Newmarket's final race-meeting of 2015.  I thought that I might as well just put finger to keyboard to ramble on for a while, but before I start waffling I might just expand on my point in yesterday's chapter about the preponderance of illegal (yes - I know that that's too strong a word, but it'll do) race-meetings coming up.  Our final turf entry for the year is Koreen at Nottingham on Wednesday; he's in a 10-furlong handicap, and it's the only race on the card beyond a mile, which clearly isn't permissible.

Then, looking ahead, we currently have eight AW Flat meetings on the 'Races to Close' page of the Racing Admin site.  Of these eight, we have two at Kempton (at each of which the only race beyond a mile is over 11 furlongs), one at Chelmsford (at which the only race beyond a mile is over 10 furlongs), and one at Wolverhampton (at which the two longest races are each just short of 9.5 furlongs) which don't meet the criteria.  That's 50% of them.  If this snapshot were to be extrapolated (and my brief scan down the programmes later in the month suggests that that might be the case) then we're in trouble, both from a basic rule-adherence point of view and also as regards maintaining the emphasis on middle- and long-distance racing which has been the hallmark and cornerstone of the excellence of the sport in the British Isles throughout racing history.

To return to today, we can return via the aforementioned Koreen.  I had an easy morning today as I only rode two horses (Blue Sea Of Ibrox, who is fine after yesterday, went for a trot, and Platinum Proof cantered).  I gave myself a rare treat in that, mimicking a proper trainer, I went out on foot to watch a horse (Koreen) gallop (Across the Flat, ie alongside the Rowley Mile).  That was very enjoyable, and also very interesting as I took the opportunity to make an inspection of the Rowley Mile. Conditions were very gruelling there yesterday as we know.  (For instance our race's winner ran 17.75 seconds slower than standard, the winner of the good 12-furlong mares' race ran 12.99 seconds slower than standard, and the two divisions of the mile handicap were run in 10.59 seconds and 7.11 seconds slower than standard).

Anyway, I couldn't really understand why the track was so slow as it hasn't been particularly wet here.  So it was interesting to walk on the racecourse this morning - interesting if not revealing, because it didn't even seem that soft to walk on it, so I'm still none the wiser.  But it was pleasant to do so, anyway.  And what was also nice was that I stopped in the garage at the top of town on the way home to buy a Racing Post, and there bumped into one of the nicest men whom I know, a man who was integral to the training of horses on the Heath for many years and who is now retired.  Anyway, it was good to see him and have a chat, a chat so long that the horses got back to the stable some time before I did.  And from that conversation I should share a brahma.

This brahma concerns a man who is infamous as Newmarket's most irascible resident, ie Neville Callaghan.  Having met in the shop, my friend and I were continuing our conversation outside, by the petrol pumps.  After a time, he said to me, "Watch out - we better move as we could get run over here".  I hadn't really been paying attention, but we smartly moved to one side as a car chugged past us, up to the pump.  As it came past, out of the corner of my eye I caught an oblique glimpse of part of the driver's head, at which point I exclaimed, "God, that's Neville, isn't it?".  To which my friend replied, totally deadpan, "Yes.  That's why I said that we might be about to be run over"!

1 comment:

Michael Tidmarsh said...

To know Neville is to love him. I am sure Your Worship, had you been offside with Neville, your friends warning would not have saved you.