Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Good on 'em

Three nice results.  (Well, four if you include the weather, which has been lovely over the past few days, notwithstanding that it has been cold.  We were minus four at dawn today, which isn't really cold in the great scheme of things, but which made it the coldest morning of our winter so far.  It might have got to plus one at some stage of the day, but basically we remained frozen throughout - which was lovely, because clear skies, sunshine, still air and dryness proved themselves to be infinitely preferable to wind, rain and mud, mud, mud).

Anyway, you can see a few pictures of the nice weather in this chapter.  You can also see two illustrations from my 'three nice results' thing.  In the first paragraph you can see Robbie Brisland riding out in Rayes Lane on Saturday morning, and in this paragraph you can see Afkar last summer, doing what was then his principal job of leading the champion filly Rizeena around the Heath.  He was sold at the end of the year, bought by the excellent young trainer Ivan Furtado.  Afkar knows every trick in the book, but Ivan's a very good trainer, and today Afkar recorded his second victory since joining the stable.  Good on 'im, and his trainer.

The reason why we are hailing Robyn Brisland is because at Chelmsford last Thursday he trained his first winner.  That was really nice.  This is the first time that he's featured on this blog, but he would have been on it had it existed in 1999, because in that year he rode a winner for this stable.  He was a lightweight apprentice at the time, I think claiming 5lb, and he rode Bold Cardowan to an easy victory under a feather weight on a bog track at Lingfield Park.  Robbie gave away the race-riding a few years later and, having been apprenticed to Gary Moore, he eventually made his way up here.

He was working for Michael Wigham a year or two ago which was very good as, notwithstanding that Wiggie must be the best part of 20 years older than Robbie, you could see a similarity, and I used to observe that Robbie was Wiggie's mini-me.  More recently Robbie was working under Nick Littmoden in the stable which houses the horses owned by the Franconson Partnership.  I was very pleased to note that when Nick left that job towards the end of the year Robbie was deservedly promoted to take over the stable - and I was then delighted to be at Chelmsford on Thursday to see him train his first winner.  Again, good on 'im.

The best result of all, though, was Emma Owen training her first winner at Kempton last week.  Emma has had a very hard time, so it was lovely to note that a ray of sunshine had shone down in her direction at last.  Anyone who used to like and admire Pat Eddery - which means all of us - owe her our respect and our affection because she was Pat's partner in his final years, years which weren't easy for him as he was not in good health, and was in particularly poor health during his final year.  They were a lovely couple, always a pleasure to see together and spend time with at the races, and at the time that Pat most needed a loving friend, she really was a friend indeed.  As I say, anyone who liked Pat can only be glad of the wonderful influence for good in his life that she was at the time when he most needed support.

Not that one would have known it from reading the Racing Post coverage of his death, however, because that was written as if she did not exist.  Instead of giving an accurate portrayal of how he had been during the latter stages of his life - and this made it worse - the coverage merely revelled in detailing how unsatisfactory his final years had supposedly been, which was as insulting to her as it was untrue.  Any time that I saw him in his final years, he was perfectly content, revelling in the company of a woman whom he loved and who loved him.  The flesh was weakening, but the spirit was still strong.

Anyway, it irked me that we had to endure those smug homilies from the paper detailing how Pat would probably have lived longer if he had looked after himself better.  These have subsequently made me reflect how lucky both my former ATR 'Sunday Forum' colleague Alan Lee and David Bowie have been.  They too were extremely nice and popular men who died recently in their 60s after presumably not having looked after themselves quite as well as they might have done had their lives been more strait-laced, but they have managed to avoid similar posthumous gloating by the paper.  I'm dreading how sanctimonious its op-eds will be the next time that a smoker dies from cancer, as it will presumably delight in telling us how he/she had brought his/her demise upon himself/herself.

Anyway, Emma has had a very tough time, a time which I would guess was made all the tougher by the way in which the Racing Post covered the death of her partner.  I was very pleased to be at Wolverhampton before Christmas on the first occasion that she had been to the races since Pat's death because it was good to spend some time with her that evening.  I wasn't at Kempton last week when Nasri won for her, but I was delighted to note the victory, a triumph which prompted the thought that just occasionally the fates get things right.  Good on 'er.

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