Thursday, July 20, 2017

Thursday I've got Monday on my mind

Having written the previous chapter on Sunday (ie four days ago), I've been to the races once since then.  I took Kilim to Windsor on Monday evening.  That was very pleasant.  We had hazy, rather than bright, sunshine, but it was 26 degrees, so we could enjoy beautiful English summer conditions.  And I say 'English' because what could be more English than a racecourse on the banks of the Thames almost in the shadows of Windsor Castle?  Idyllic.  And the fact that I chanced upon a pair of swans standing guard over their three cygnets on the river-bank while I was walking the course was a further bonus, and one in keeping with the general Englishness of it all.

Kilim ran adequately, finishing sixth of 13.  She was, admittedly, a fairly well-beaten sixth, and she never looked like winning.  And it was, admittedly, a weak race.  But, even so, it was a massive improvement on her resumption at Bath last month.  She settled much better this time and consequently finished her race off fairly well rather than pathetically.  So that's good.  We can press on still with a modicum of hope in the human breast, and we can hope that she may eventually become the winner which her excellent pedigree suggests she should be.

On pedigree, Kilim ought to be a proper stayer, but persuading her to act like a stayer is easier said than done.  But Monday was encouraging.  We'll now step her (back) up in distance and see how we go.  The race was also encouraging for Minnie's Mystery's Harry Dunlop-trained three-year-old Rock On Dandy (whom I sold as a weanling) who ran his best race to date in finishing a close second.  Fingers crossed he should find the winner's enclosure before too long.  You can see him on the rails here, just beaten by the horse in the middle of the course, and with Kilim too sticking to the rail a few lengths behind him.

It is worth noting that Nicola Currie, who was on board Kilim on Monday evening, has now had three rides for us.  These have been an excellent and excellently-executed win on Kryptos at Chester last Saturday, and two unplaced runs.  The two unplaced runs have both been on horses who are good at separating the sheep from the goats (Roy and Kilim, neither of whom is an easy ride and both of whom can over-race fiercely if not ridden skillfully and sympathetically).  Each is thus a good test of a rider, and Nicola (pictured this morning in the final three photographs, on So Much Water and White Valiant, as she was kind enough to call in here on her way home from Yarmouth) passed the test on both: they each settled beautifully for her and travelled extremely kindly.  God willing she will ride them both again next week (Roy at Sandown on Wednesday and Kilim at Chepstow two days later).

If I'm handing out praise (for once) I ought to mention, on the subject of Windsor Races, that Monday's meeting was one of the last at Windsor at which I will see Ed Arkell officiating.  I had been keen to walk the course because I'd watched the previous few Windsor meetings on ATR and had been bamboozled about where we ought to be racing because a few recent meetings had been held in terrible weather, in which the horses had been racing anywhere and everywhere, the track had been being chewed up terribly, and the winners had been coming any which way they could.  Anyway, I walked the track and found some lovely ground to race on, which has generally been the case at any racecourse at which Ed has been clerking.

Edward, as you probably know, has recently been signed up to fill the shoes of the soon-to-retire Seamus Buckley at Goodwood, arguably the most special racecourse in the world.  Massive shoes, and ones which few could be able to fill properly.  He'll be up to the job, though, and the news is good news both for him and for Goodwood.  In general our horses are more Windsor / Brighton / Lingfield / Fontwell class than Goodwood class, and we'll miss him at those courses.  But I generally grab any opportunity run a horse at Goodwood (usually in a maiden race) which is a special place for owners, trainers, staff and horses alike.  So hopefully I'll be seeing him down there instead for many years to come.

ARC, of course, lost Neil Mackenzie Ross, another top-class clerk of the course, to Bahrain only a couple of years ago.  I was chuckling to myself, when I heard that it had now lost Ed too, that, as Oscar Wilde might have observed, 'to lose one top-class clerk of the course may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness'.  Still, life will go on, at the ARC courses as well as at Goodwood, and there are plenty of other good people involved in racecourse management.  In particular, Brighton is in very safe and very conscientious hands with George Hill, and I'm looking forward to my next visit there, which I hope will be with Roy for the Festival in three weeks' time.

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