Thursday, September 22, 2016

He is, after all, Roy's brother

Gee, I gave White Valiant's trip to Kempton such a big build-up, and I could hardly have got it more wrong.  It was a complete non-event, and the waiting is not over.  He's very quiet both in the stalls and elsewhere (as this picture of him doing stalls' work last month with Clare Alexander suggests) but things went badly wrong.  He was very quiet down at the start, walked into the stalls nice and relaxed and stood there calmly for about a minute - but then, presumably spooked by the pandemonium going on around and behind him including a horse rearing over, he panicked, reared and fell down.  Thank God neither he nor Paddy Aspell was injured, but once he had been extricated from his stall the starter wisely decided not to put him back in.  And that was that.

What I might do with White Valiant (which is something which I arguably should have done anyway) is run him in a couple of three-year-olds' bumpers so that he's more seasoned mentally by the time that he has to (a) have a stalls' test and (b) race from stalls again.  There's one at Huntingdon in ten days' time, so that might be a suitable option.  He'll have scared himself yesterday, although, remarkably, he was completely unfazed afterwards; and, as this photograph, taken this morning, shows, he was his usual laid-back self this morning.  But he will have had a fright, and it'll be easier to put it behind him if a bit of time can pass and he can do a bit of growing up before he has to revisit a stalls' scenario.

Anyway, nobody was hurt, nor did the world stop turning.  I just came home thinking, "Gee, I should have seen that coming; after all, he is Roy's brother!".  So that was that.  Two more outings coming up now in the next couple of days.  A trip to Milton Keynes later this afternoon to the ATR stoodio to help with the TV coverage of Chelmsford this evening; and then the long drive up and back down the A1 tomorrow, Hope Is High (seen here relaxing just now with her friends Kilim and Roy) having indeed scraped into her intended race (only thanks to it being divided) tomorrow evening.

Oh yes, your queries from the last chapter, Neil.  Yes, the odd card just for two-year-olds can be a good idea at this time of year.  Can be popular with both owners/trainers and race-goers too.  Newmarket usually has one each autumn.  Regarding how long does it take to learn to jump - it's really the same as the length of a piece of string, or how many lessons a learner-driver needs before he is ready to pass his driving test.  A quick learner could go up a line of hurdles once and be proficient: a slow learner could go up 100 times and still be inept.  Once they have learnt to jump well, I'd question whether there's much point in continually checking that they haven't forgotten, aside from the odd bit of practice to keep their eye in.  Horses are fragile creatures, and just from the point of view of minimizing the build-up of wear and tear, one doesn't want to work them just for the sake of it.  As regards tired horses falling late in a race, that's always going to happen.

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