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We have a runner tomorrow at Chelmsford

Friday, 09 March 2018

"Wisdom before experience is only words; wisdom after experience is of no avail."

Mark van Doren.

TTMAB, Topinion and Rum Ration on the Cambridge Road 

It’s a mild morning with no wind and if it would only stay like this the ground would soon dry up, but that’s not the forecast and we have got bands of rain, evidently, blowing across the country during the next week. We are making the best of it whilst we have got this perfect riding out weather. We had a couple of jockeys in this morning so did some good work on the Cambridge Road and the rest have been cantering close to home. I must say the horses are thriving, their spring coats are starting to come out and they are all looking strong and healthy. Long may it continue. We had a mucker outer start this morning so we are up to full strength with the yard people and if we could only just find one or two good riders, life would be perfect.

Velvet Voice

We have one runner over the weekend. Four Fifty Three runs at Chelmsford on Saturday night in the now 9.15. It seems to get later and later and I wonder how long it will be before we are racing at midnight. I am sure the bookmakers would love that as they would be getting all the gambling night owls and the Far East punters betting at that time of night. I am hoping that Four Fifty Three doesn’t fall asleep as it is well past his bedtime, as well as everybody else, but he should have a reasonable chance of adding to his course victory.

Harry and Faye working hard in the yard

I see the disappointing headlines on the front of the Racing Post today about Sizing John being ruled out of the Cheltenham Gold Cup at this very late stage. It is so disappointing for all concerned, but it just goes to show how delicate horses are and that these hairline cracks, whether it be in the pelvic region or leg bones, are very hard to detect and they only show up at certain times. Often you will get a rider report the horse is not moving as well as it usually does and this is sometimes a sign that something is going on. Bone scanning will obviously show you any hotspots, but the cost of this is horrendous. The recovery form this sort of injury is always very good, but requires time at rest and then a slow fitness rebuilding programme. It is just a downer for all concerned at the time and it seems to always happen to the good ones. Cheltenham starts next week and our tipping competition will start on Tuesday. I am already looking forward to the week immensely.

Second lot walking back

Back in the yard

I am absolutely delighted with the two horses we are syndicating this time round. Pageant Master and Belle Bayeux are different types but both are racehorses and should give anybody a lot of fun and excitement in the coming years. Pageant Master especially is sharp, a great attitude to his work and looks like being a real two-year-old type. We have still got a few shares left in both of them and would be delighted to show them to anybody at their convenience.  

Phil on Friday

Cheltenham! What wonderful memories are stirred by the very mention of it … Arkle and Mill House, Best Mate, Desert Orchid and so many other heroes. But over and above even all that, for one little boy barely nine years old there came along, many years ago, an extra special Cheltenham day that could never be repeated for him, and a day he could never forget.

His mother had woken him that March morning with the most wonderful news a racing-mad youngster could ever possibly imagine he would hear. ‘Dad is going to the Gold Cup today’, she whispered. ‘Would you like to miss school and go with him?’ Even now he can’t begin to describe the joy that flowed through his young veins well over 60 years ago.

By half past eight and in his short trousers, which was the ‘fashion’ in those far-off days, wearing his school cap, clutching some of his mother’s hastily-made sandwiches and bursting with excitement, the lad was on the way with his dad to Prestbury Park for the first time.

But heartbreak, or something close to it, was to follow. And it lasted for hours. The boy didn’t glimpse a single horse all day long. Or a jockey. The crowds were simply overwhelming.

 Only about four feet tall, if that, he just couldn’t see anything, standing as he was all afternoon about 15 human body widths back from the rails and scarcely able to move  amid what seemed to him an ocean of giants. He literally couldn’t pick out any part of any horse.

Across the years, however, the boy clung to one abiding memory of that day. He had glimpsed the cap of a winning rider as it flashed past him on the way to the finishing post. The sight of a piece of famous equine flesh, or a well-known jockey’s face, would have been welcome but it didn’t happen. In his mind’s eye even now though, he can still picture the fleeting blur of that single rider’s cap as it sped by. It was green.

The lad managed to put on a brave face. The overall excitement and crackerjack atmosphere of his first Cheltenham were enough in a way. It was an ‘occasion’, and he was there! Wouldn’t his schoolmates be for ever envious, too – they needn’t know the whole truth.

Huge crowds continue to flock to Cheltenham and in recent years there have been many improvements to the facilities for racegoers. A well-positioned small boy can probably see some racing these days. The quality of the sport, the setting, the thrill of it all remain unsurpassed.

And now, in 2018, I just wonder if the daffodils are out again at the foot of Cleeve Hill, just as they were more than 60 years ago ….