Friday, February 14, 2020

Helpful suggestions for Valentine's Day

Thank you, as ever, for your feedback after the last chapter, Neil.  I'm glad I'm not the only one scratching my head in front of the TV.  Re the time of day of evening racing, I can't see that it's an issue.  It certainly won't be an issue relative to each other (which is what matters as far as the result of the race goes) as all the horses will be in the same boat; and I can't see that it's an issue in absolute terms either.  I don't study times in great detail, although I do pay a fair bit of attention to them, but I've never noticed that the times of evening races are significantly different to what one would expect them to have been earlier in the day.  And I'd imagine that people who study times more closely than I do would say the same.

We had an opportunity to watch one of these horses perform at night on Monday as Hidden Pearl ran at Wolverhampton.  We'd been lucky going into the meeting.  Our race was second preference to be divided.  The first preference only attracted 17 declarations (a race has to attract 18 declarations to be divided) and our race attracted 19, so we found ourselves in a divided race, with 10 horses in our division, rather than in a full field.  And then there were two non-runners on the day, making it an eight-horse race.  Not that that availed us much, though, as we finished seventh.  She could probably do with going back up in distance a little bit and she was only beaten a little over four lengths, so it wasn't a disastrous outing, though.

She may get that bit of extra ground on Monday as there has been an extra meeting put on at Lingfield and I have entered her in a race at that.  In one sense we ought not to back her up as her rating will be lowered a bit for this week's race, so there's little sense in running again before the reassessment comes into force.  However, take this away and the only 12-furlong 0-55 in the next several weeks is at Southwell, where I'd be loath to take her, so it probably makes sense to run her - and I'd be very interested to see how she backs up.  It may turn out to suit her.

In the meantime, we have this evening to look forward to: Valentine's Day!  I'm celebrating it, as you can see, by writing a chapter of this blog.  I don't think that I'm missing out on anything too exciting as I think that the target audience for Valentine's Day extravaganzas (extravaganzae?) is composed of people with fewer grey hairs than I have.  If I had had any doubts about whether I should be getting involved in any Valentine's Day beanfeasts, these would have been assuaged by my receiving an email in which a local restaurant boasted of the contents of its Valentine's Day dinner menu.  Looking at this, I'm not sure exactly who the target audience is, but I'm guessing that it is composed of people less fussy and more adventurous about what they eat than I am.  Here it is:-

Garlic flat breads with beetroot hummus & tapenade
Lamb shoulder bon bons with cherry puree
Binham blue pate with honey & walnuts on focaccia
Falafel bun slider with red pepper hummus
Calamari with a soy & sesame slaw & sweet chilli dip
Bavette steak taco with chimichurri
Corn fed curried chicken kiev
Halloumi fries and chimi mayo
Patatas Bravas (add chorizo).

See why I'm so pleased to be at home writing this blog.

On the subject (sort of) of romance, I note that City Racing has had its first matrimonial casualty.  Perhaps.  You'll have seen this week that Peter Phillips and his wife are splitting up.  There was an article in the Torygraph saying that one has to expect these things when royalty marries a commoner (and it used the Duke and Duchess of Sussex as Exhibit B, which was rather harsh as they are still married).  I actually think that the reason might be less formulaic than that.  (Again on the subject of Valentine's Day, sort of) you may be aware that some husbands over the years (not this one, obviously) have found that when they say they are doing something, they are generally greeted with questions such as, "Is that a good idea?" or "Wouldn't it be better to be doing ...?".

There is, of course, a place for such helpful suggestions, but I'm told that in general they can be quite trying.  (I always enjoy the phrase 'helpful suggestions'.  My father wrote a book in the 'acknowledgements' section at the front of which he thanked various people including "my wife, Meg" who had "made many very helpful suggestions".  I know that he would have written that with a smile on his face, and I can't think of him doing so without a smile appearing on my face too.  Anyway, what has this to do with Mr and Mrs Peter Phillips?

Strange though it may seem, I believe that Peter Phillips is one of the prime movers behind the presumably-soon-to-be-stillborn City Racing project, which has done the impossible in getting all racing people to agree (bar, of course, those who hope to make some money out of it).  Is it entirely fanciful to suggest, bearing in mind that all too many husbands have struggled under a barrage of helpful suggestions when they are actually doing something sensible, that this marriage might have come under strain resulting from a barrage of uxorial (if there is such a word) questions along the lines of "What the hell makes you think that there is any merit to this project whatsoever?"?

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