Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Sunshine, a heroine and a hero

It's getting colder and we're definitely in autumn now rather than in an Indian summer; but one can have lovely pleasant days in autumn, and happily we've been having some of those.  We've had some truly glorious mornings (most notably Sunday morning, as one can see here, mostly through Roy's ears) and some warm sunny days, such as today when I think we got up to 16 degrees.  So that's good.  No doubt there will be some grim weather awaiting us over the next few months; but we've had a good summer from July onwards and it's still pleasant enough now.  So we'll have no grounds for complaints. Winter definitely isn't here yet - it's when winter begins in August, as can happen, that one has cause for complaint.

So what's been happening?  We're into yearling sale season, but that's not really a factor for most trainers nowadays.  The bulk of the horses are bought by a handful of owners, who do their business through agents.  So the days of a majority of trainers pounding the sales' beat has gone.  This means that we can sit back and take in as much or as little of it as one chooses.  For me the highlight has been Sheikh Mohammed Obaid being under-bidder to his cousin Sheikh Mohammed on the two 2.6 million-guinea joint-sale-topping Dubawi colts.  You would have thought that they might have been able to save the family a couple of million pounds had they been speaking to each other, but I suppose that's families for you.

Otherwise jockeys are in the news.  As the BHB in its (in this instance fairly questionable) wisdom has decided that Doncaster is a second-class racecourse and the Racing Post is a second-class sponsor, the main season bizarrely finishes a week before the final Group One race of the year (the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster) is run, so we're only four days from the end of the riders' championships.  It appears very likely that Jim Crowley will be Champion Jockey, but Silvestre seems not to have given up hope, as his flying to Wolverhampton this evening seems to suggest.  And he's just ridden a winner there, for his staunch patron and friend Chris Dwyer.

The apprentices' title, though, seems to have been sewn up - and, happily, it seems to have been sewn up by Josephine Gordon.  Under normal circumstances I'd have been delighted to see the excellent Tom Marquand take the title for a second time; but obviously I've been rooting for Josie, as she's been riding regularly and excellently for us through the season (and will, I hope, continue to do so for many seasons to come) and will make a thoroughly deserving champion in every respect.  She's ridden a winner at Wolverhampton this evening, which I think takes her tally for the main season to 49 (three of which came on Indira, to whom she is pictured here saying G'day last Saturday morning, and one of which came on Hope Is High) and that seems enough to guarantee her the title, irrespective of whether she does or does not reach the half-century in the next four days.

Otherwise, Graham Lee has been the jockey in the headlines.  He has been a jockey and a human being whom I have admired for many years (not least because we have generally been very lucky when he's ridden for us - he's one of only two jockeys to have scored for us both over jumps and on the Flat) and my admiration of him has climbed higher still this week.  It was funny because I sometimes fail to pay attention to what is going on around me, as was the case in the summer when I remarked to Emma one day that Graham Lee didn't seem to be getting many rides at the time.  Of course I'd failed to take on board that he wasn't riding, and Emma filled me in on the fact that he'd been signed off with an unspecified virus.

Anyway, he's back riding now.  And now he has let the cat out of the bag that his absence had been caused not by a virus but by depression.  Good on 'im.  One piece of advice which I usually give to young people when they set out into the wide world is never to be ashamed to admit that one is a human being, ie that one isn't perfect or infallible, and that one has some or all of the human frailties which make us what we are, ie human beings, not machines.  It is, of course, advice which I find as hard to follow as anyone, because we've been raised not to cry, not to say that we are afraid, not to say that we aren't up to something, not to say that things are all getting a bit much and we can't cope, not to say that we need help.

But failing to acknowledge these things isn't strength; it's stupidity.  There's nothing clever in suffering in silence, in trying to pretend that we are anything other than what we are, in trying to pretend that we aren't human.  It can't have been easy for Graham to speak openly about his depression, but I hope that life will be easier for him now that he has done so.  The respect which his peers hold for him won't have been in any way lessened by the discovery that he is a human being just the same as the rest of us; but it will have been raised to even greater heights by the discovery that he's brave enough to bare his soul to the world.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thought u were excellent this morning on at the races u are not one bit racist, sexism the best TV I have watched ever Pat Harte