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A serious virus in France

Monday, 17 April 2017

"Easter tells us that life is to be interpreted not simply in terms of things but in terms of ideals."

Charles M. Crowe.

Stellekaya leading Astrojewel

It's a showery morning and quite cool. The forecast for the week is for it to be reasonably dry and to warm up. We have had a good morning with the horses doing what I call "Monday morning canters" on various polytracks this side of town. We are starting to get a few more staff now which is making life easier, but I still need a feeder and somebody to help travel the horses.


It's the Irish Grand National today at Fairyhouse with nearly half the field owned by one owner. It will be a nightmare for the commentator with the same colours, but fourteen different hats. It should be well worth watching and let's hope one of the smaller trainers can grab the money.



I see there has been a viral outbreak in France at one of the big trainer's yards where the virus attacks the nervous system and has already claimed the lives of two horses. The outbreak is confined to one barn, which is quarantined, but he is still able to run horses from his two other sites. I just hope it doesn't spread further. There are many strange ailments in the world and with the transportation of horses from continent to continent, it is only a matter of time before a major outbreak will paralyse a country's racing fixtures.


A very Happy Easter to everybody

Friday, 14 April 2017

"It is the hour to rend thy chains,
The blossom time of souls."
Katherine Lee Bates.

Pulling out of the yard

It’s a similar morning to yesterday, but a lot of clouds have blown in as the day has gone on and the breeze has picked up. I think there is a little bit of rain forecast, but not a lot. It is typical of an Easter weekend, a few showers, cooler in the open and not much better into next week. It has been a good morning so far as we have got a couple more lads turn up who can ride, and we have got the horses out on good exercises on a wide variety of canters. I should have the jockeys in tomorrow and if the watered gallop is open, it will be a toss-up whether to use that, or the Peat Moss.

Second lot on Hamilton Hill

The BHA has issued a directive this year to re-measure all the courses and it is amazing how different they have found them. We have just been sent a supplement in the racing calendar with the new flat racing distances for the majority of courses. It makes for interesting reading. It just goes to show that the timing is completely out when you are running over two miles 68 yards, like they were doing at Lingfield on the turf. It would be a slow time and that is why the all-weather tracks are the only ones to rely on for the exact time of the race. The clerks of the courses move the rails a lot on turf tracks, and this can alter distances as well, even the Derby is going to be one mile four furlongs and 6 yards rather than the one mile four furlongs and 10 yards it was traditionally thought to be. My prediction that we will have 60% of racing on all-weather tracks in 20 years’ time will not be far off the mark.


It’s the big all-weather championship final today at Lingfield, and Newcastle has also put on two very expensive races. I just hope some of the smaller stables can get on the scoreboard and win some of the money, as they are the ones who keep the show on the road all winter. I think it is very unfair that the larger yards can come in at this stage and pick up the money.  I know there are several ‘win and you are in’ races to qualify for this day, but I would have thought a couple of races for yards that haven’t got 20 horses and yards that haven’t got 50 horses would be a good addition. You could have qualifying races for those all year.

Hold Firm

Everybody at Frankland Lodge and Dullingham Park wish all our readers of this website a very Happy Easter. We will be doing everything in our power this year to give you a lot of information, fun and excitement, not only with this blog, but also with the horses. Healthy horses are what we aim to have as they win races, and winners always cheer everybody up.

Four Fifty Three

Phil on Good Friday

It was a spectacular sporting weekend, headed up of course by the Grand National and superb U.S. Masters golf.  So .… call me a grumpy old man if you like but I never cheer and shout at horse races these days, or at any other sporting event for that matter, even those the like of which we have just witnessed. In fact, I haven’t done so for years. The last time, I think, was when I watched on TV as Even Top was beaten in the 2,000 Guineas by about a quarter-of-an-inch. The racket I made caused my then baby son to cry with fright, and I realised all this noise-making was a complete waste of time.

It was different in my youth. With a shilling each way out of my pocket money at stake I could really let rip at the end of a selling hurdle at Towcester.

Now, I can’t see the point. Any amount of yelling won’t influence the outcome of a tight finish, and shouting at the television showing an event from perhaps halfway across the world is bordering on the insane. Thankfully, however, not many share my “watch in silence” attitude or we’d have races run and tournaments played out with no air of excitement whatsoever. I know that. But all this leads me to a particularly annoying phenomenon…

I had some late nights last weekend watching the Masters. We’re well accustomed now to the peculiar American habit of whooping dementedly when anyone plays a half decent shot, but one thing I shall never get used to is the crowd yelling “Get in the hole” as soon as the ball leaves the club-head. And it’s nearly always in the same growling accent with particular emphasis on the ‘h’ in hole’. There’s always plenty of ‘go, go, go’, ‘sit-down’ and ‘keep left’ as well.

What on earth can this achieve? Do they really have any hope of influencing the progress of some inanimate little object flying at great speed a hundred yards or more away?

I have even heard in the past, as a player teed off at a dog-leg par four, some nutter shouting “Get in the hole.” Perhaps he wanted to hear his own voice on the highlights programme later. Anyway, the defiant ball didn’t go in.

And another thing: why do the commentators insist on referring to a ‘great golf shot’? It’s hardly likely to be a great cricket shot at Augusta, is it?  And they will talk about the ‘golf course’ and the ‘golf tournament.’ After a couple of hours viewing I for one can twig which particular sport I’m watching.

There, you really can call me a grumpy old man ... 


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