Tuesday, March 22, 2016


I'd echo the sentiments of David Winter and Neil Kearns after the last chapter: Victoria Pendleton's achievements in the past year, culminating in an ice-cool and polished round in the Foxhunters, have been both heart-warming and inspirational.  In fact, I'd nearly say that they were the happiest aspect of the week - except that from my point of view the happiest event of the week was the win of Indira in the 7.15 at Wolverhampton on Saturday night.  It had been a bleak and barren winter for us with no victory since Blue Sea Of Ibrox's win at Pontefract early in October, so it was bloody terrific to get off the mark for the year.

Indira had run some very sound races during the winter - she'd twice finished a very good second to a well-handicapped horse, and I think that she'd have won at Chelmsford in a storm and the dark on the first Sunday in January had she enjoyed the run of the race - but that's not the same as passing the post in front.  Particularly when none of her stablemates was passing the post in front either.  So it was a truly joyous occasion when she scored on Saturday - particularly as Lucinda McClure, who rides her nearly every day and who dotes on her, was able to come to the races and lead her up.

I thought it was a fairly solid win on Saturday, but then I'm biased and I ought to cede to the Racing Post's observer, who thought that the performance didn't amount to much, and that she'd struggle in future if going up more than 3lb.  Ah well, she's gone up 4lb.  But, even so, I hope that she might continue to run well through the spring, as she's seemingly in very good shape and very good heart at present.  She can go to Catterick, where she generally runs well, on 6th April - and I very much hope that Josephine Gordon can go there too.  Josephine gave her a ride that a leading senior jockey would have been proud of, and I'd be very keen to keep the partnership intact.  Her 5lb claim is a gift - to the extent that replacing her with a senior jockey, however good that senior jockey, would be the same as incurring an extra 5lb rise in the ratings.

What made the win on Satuday extra special was that there was a good representation on behalf of the Severn Crossing Partnership, whose members race her with the best possible nature, accepting setbacks  supportively and with good grace, and appreciating the rare good moments as they should be treasured, ie as a bonus, rather than a right.  It was lovely to have so many people sharing the joy - which made me think of a couple of interviews I had seen on TV with Gordon Elliott during the Cheltenham Festival.

The first winner which Gordon (who did not put up overweight on the only ride he had for this stable - strange but true) had at Cheltenham this year was a hurdler for J P McManus.  He was interviewed on TV afterwards and was presented with an observation which, even by the standards of observtions which we are accustomed to hearing on TV, was remarkably stupid: "Every winner at Cheltenham is special, but it must be particularly special when the winner is for J P."  I can't remember how Gordon coped with this piece of idiocy - in fact, as it wasn't actually a question, he might easily have ignored it - but it obviously stuck in his mind.

On the final day when he trained Don Cossack to win the Gold Cup for Michael O'Leary, he was again interviewed.  I can't remember how the interrogation worked its way round to this, but I think that Gordon, seemingly having the words from the earlier interview buzzing around in his head, probably steered it in this direction.  Anyway, he went out of his way to say that every winner is very special, irrespective of who owns the winner, and it is just as heart-warming to help to provide the joy of a winner at Perth or Down Royal for a small syndicate as it is to turn out a big winner for a major owner.  That to anyone involved with the racing of horses is just common sense, even if not to whomever it was who conducted that first interview.  The joy of a winner, and sharing it with good people, is very, very special indeed, wherever it happens - and particularly when you've been waiting a while!


David Winter said...

I was so pleased with Indiras win and mightily impressed with Josephine, whom I knew little of,and had to check to see if it was J.Egan !!
The photo of them crossing the line demonstrated the classic jockey position: wonderful.
She did win ( as chappers would say) on the snaff, but a 4lb hike was a tad harsh and somewhat frustrating given her past hard luck stories. Hey ho....trials and trib's etc....
After a lengthy dry spell of winners I always felt for the trainer,because they interact with the horse on a almost hourly basis,have the daily grind in all weathers of the actual training , ( although it's a labour of love) transport the animal to far flung destinations and sit for hours pondering the calendar trying to place the horse for best effect. Unfortunately, the overwhelming odds suggest that it won't win; worse still, for some unknown reason runs a poor race. So, the slightly shame faced trainer returns to the owner/owners with said beast and has to try to explain the bloody unexplainable, sometimes to the ignorant ( in the broader sense) who look po faced , shuffle their feet and look away. That was the time I felt I wanted to put an understanding arm around the poor bugger and buy him a consalutory drink!, only I couldn't, because more often than not he was driving back, no doubt riven with a feeling of helplessness and in fact could he train a dog.
So, when, on the occasions things fall into place and you return to your owner full of pride and with an injection of self esteem, it is a joyous moment and the feeling must be intoxicating....otherwise, why would you do it????
Congratulations John and BH team!

neil kearns said...

good win , good ride - nice to see a jockey who put her stick down when the race was won senior jockeys take note , super consistent horse all should be very happy
my only negative thought (and this is probably aimed at the rest of the field) was that she looked to be the only horse who truly stayed the trip - however that may suggest she will get 1m 6f or further in the future and become another JB super stayer - wasn't there a race you used to target at around this sort of trip at Redcar or somewhere similar