Showing posts from February, 2011

Looking for clues

A gap in the diary meant I could rediscover the lost art of spontaneity by taking in the rescheduled Totesport Trophy meeting at Newbury on Friday. This was the meeting abandoned last week after the horrific electrocution of two horses in the paddock. Southern Electricity had dug up a chunk of previously dead cabling and had declared the site safe. So off I set, eschewing the rubber soled wellies and instead trusting the reassurances of the course management.  It was an important meeting and very rare that a whole card is rescheduled. So credit to the course for getting it on. The prize money had taken a battering, in anticipation of reduced revenue on the day, but the card was still very strong and packed with horses needing an outing before Cheltenham. They weren’t alone. I’d been off the track myself since June (The Oaks) and needed a good blow to get me spot on for Cheltenham. I was feeling rusty and I knew I’d come on massively for a trot round Newbury’s bookie pitches, To

Royal Windsor Races

Such a gloomy racing weekend just gone. Bad news at every twist and turn. So I’m grateful to my mate GC who has unearthed some photos from a day at the races back in 2007.  They have momentarily punched a hole in the gloaming  with sweet memories of a rather splendid, perfectly executed, borderline classy trip to Royal Windsor Racecourse one fine August day. Looking at the photos - GC, Bex, Mrs A and me all sparkly and bright in our smart-casual - I’m struck by the weather. Those azure skies, dazzling whites and lush greens just serve to emphasise the February murk I’m peering through from the window of my shed (I mean summerhouse) (I mean office) weighing down on and maybe even suppressing the spirit within. (Yes, I’m reading Jude the Obscure again). Photos can be deceptive. As I recall, 2007 was a pretty miserable Summer. Indeed GC remarked to us, sipping a pre-race Pimms and fruit salad creation (and doing remarkably well to avoid poking himself in the eye with a sharp straw), “The

Bad day at the office

Desperate stuff at Newbury today. Two horses electrocuted as they paraded before the opening race. I knew something was amiss when I turned on Racing UK for the opener, but found an extended advert break. This was soon replaced by a sombre Nick Luck carefully reporting the story. Terms like ‘grown men crying’ and ‘never seen anything like it’, were thrown into the mix. His description of two horses writhing and crashing to the ground in separate incidents only seconds apart was stomach churning.   Marching Song and Fenix Two convulsed and died in front of bemused racegoers. I’ve been less than convinced about the value of Twitter so far. Too many repetitive views and cliquey discussions. But today the medium really came into its own. Commentators at the track or better connected that I were tweeting the possibility of electrification in one or two parts of the parade ring, of two other horses that had received shocks, and of head lads and lasses that were picking up the current as

Festival ante posts

Following quickly on the heels of a dewy-eyed and sentimental blog about a decade riding the Cheltenham roller-coaster, it’s time for a hard-nosed analysis of my festival ante-post folio. Frosty receptions This season has been a bugger to get to grips with. Desperate weather conditions have punched a hole the size of a cow in the mid-season fixture list. No wonder stuff (apols) of such vitriol has been written about the protection policies of some of our leading tracks. Too many high profile fixtures have been lost needlessly to the elements. Kirkland Tellwright, clerk at Haydock, was on the receiving end of some incandescent rage after his shambolic performance last weekend. His failure to deploy frost covers – which are now proven to work (c.f. Cheltenham’s meeting on Saturday)   - was widely interpreted as complacency and incompetence or, worse, a lack of commitment to meetings that are more profitable for the insurance payout upon cancellation. Non triers So there is hardly a