The last day of Royal Ascot....

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We have one runner today at York

Friday, 16 June 2017

"What a happy and holy fashion it is that those who love one another should rest on the same pillow."

Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Desert River and TTMAB

It’s another warm and sunny morning, but there is a slight breeze that is helping, and with one non-runner, one on holiday, two away at York, we are getting on remarkable well. We have been cantering all the horses on Hamilton Hill, which is in great condition and you can get a bit of shade from the trees. At present they are full of cherries and I take great pride in trying to beat the birds to the best ones. We have no runners over the weekend but one today and then there will be several next week.

Gee Sixty Six

Our runner today is at York in the big seller. Budgie looks an ideal candidate. He has had two runs and has gained a lot of experience for both. I don’t think the ground suited him last time out at Leicester, but he was not given the best of rides. I think the ground will be ok and although he needs a little bit further, he will be doing his best work at the end and let’s hope he can give us a shout and get in the frame. I have won this race in the past, twice I think . The one I can remember most is Gabbiadini. He was named after Marco Gabbiadini who was a very good professional footballer and had a hotel in York. He went on to win a couple of nurseries afterwards as well.

     14_Stelle     10_Sand
(L) Stellekaya and (R) Sandwood Bay

I wholeheartedly agree with Michael Bell who has come out against letting Welsey Ward work his horses on the track at Ascot. It must give them an unfair advantage and it certainly wants looking into for the future. When we go abroad, there are many obstacles put in our way as they don’t really want us to beat their horses, and very little assistance is given with expenses. There is absolutely none with the Breeder’s Cup and Melbourne Cup trips, only good hospitality. The American horses are based here in Newmarket. We have two courses, plus unbelievably good gallops and there is nowhere like it in the world, so calling for a level playing field is certainly not way off the mark.

Velvet Voice leading Bracken Brae

I hope the Queen makes it in time on Wednesday as she is required to give the Queen's Speech in parliament. I am sure everything will go off by the minute, as all royal functions do. If there is anybody who deserves to have some enjoyment it is her majesty, and this is the one week of the year she looks forward to and it is her week. It is typical of politicians to upset it. It would have been better to have put it off for another week.


Phil on Friday

So England are out of cricket’s Champions Trophy. I know at least half the population couldn’t care less but, for me, last Wednesday was wasted Wednesday – up early, fetch the paper, have breakfast and switch on the telly in time for the toss. Then suffer hours of anxiety and ultimately huge disappointment.

At least that long and difficult day gave a chance to think of better times …

It was amusing to read in the early-season sports pages about the cricketing ‘chubsters’ of Northamptonshire, my home county.  They are a big side all right, and you wouldn’t want to argue with the likes of Rory Kleinveldt or Richard Levi. They can’t quite match up, however, to the greatest of them all, in every sense – the now long-departed Colin Milburn. Ollie was his nickname. He played in Test matches for England and at one point shared TV commentary with the likes of Richie Benaud, Denis Compton and Brian Johnston. He was a giant of a man with a giant appetite, and an enviable capacity for beer.

I was once honoured to judge a ‘hot pants’ competition with him in Northampton.  I think we might have overdone the ‘warm-up’ slightly because we put some random bloke, who might have just wandered in from the street for all we knew, in third place. As I recall, however, the winner was well worthy of her title and I hope she still remembers the evening she genuinely became Northampton’s Miss Hot Pants.

I was privileged in my early days in journalism to report on a few cricket matches – what a job, with long summer afternoons and only a few paragraphs to write as the day meandered on – and I have special memories of time spent at Northampton’s County Ground.  As a very small boy I witnessed the introduction of Frank Tyson, probably the fastest bowler of them all. Typhoon Tyson they called him.

Of course my more senior colleagues always had better cricketing anecdotes to tell. One concerned the brilliant John Arlott, most revered of all commentators. He was also wine correspondent for The Guardian and would often do his tasting during a game. One day at Bath, on a hot July afternoon with the Somerset v. Northants county match paralysingly slow, the great man consumed two bottles of claret all by himself for lunch. Not surprisingly he soon nodded off and, when he awoke in time for tea, was heard to observe: “I don’t know what it is about Bath but I always feel sleepy here in the afternoons”.

I love the story another colleague would tell about the day Northamptonshire took on Ireland in a cup competition. Ireland were fielding and one of their men on the boundary fell into conversation with a spectator who was intrigued by the make-up of the visiting side. “Is it an all-Ireland team, or just from the Republic?” she asked. “Well now”, replied the cricketer, after giving the matter much thought. “Half of us are from Northern Ireland, half from the south, and the rest come from all over”.

That clears that up then.

Back to the Racing Post, Royal Ascot, and good luck Pakistan. You did us, fair and square.


The Rubbing House and Hamilton Hill polys were used today

Thursday, 15 June 2017

"Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love."

Albert Einstein.

Bracken Brae on the Rubbing House polytrack

Before we start the normal blog I would just like to say how terrible it was to watch the fire in London yesterday morning and send our condolences to the family and friends of everybody who died. It seems a never ending battle at the moment, whether it is terrorists or this awful fire, and let’s hope things can change for the country and everybody can pull together for a much better future.

Rum Ration and Saint Anthony at first lot

It’s a very warm day with no breeze whatsoever and we are getting the horses in and out before the sun gets too high in the sky. The morning has been interrupted by a delivery of hay, which has needed to be put away, and all the lads have been helping with that in between lots. I have kept the horses very close to home, either on the Rubbing House polytrack or the Hamilton Hill polytrack. All has gone well and we have had Gabriele riding out a couple of lots as well. He got a bit of tuition this morning on how to ride, which hand to keep his whip in and to try to keep hold of it and not throw it away like he did at Yarmouth yesterday.

Four Fifty Three, Roof Garden and TTMAB

Hold Firm didn’t get the best of rides yesterday. I don’t think he would have beaten the winner in that form, but should have finished second. He never runs a bad race, always tries his hardest and there will be more races to be won with him yet. Astroshadow ran in snatches yesterday and looks like she wants a long way. She will now be handicapped but that will be very low and we may struggle to find a race for her in the near future. 

     19_Jewel__Koin     20_Breeze__Fire
(L) Astrojewel leading Koin and (R) Astrobreeze leading Astrofire

It was pleasing to see the challenge on the point of consumption tax failed in the Court of Justice of the EU yesterday. This challenge came from the Gibraltar Betting and Gaming Association. It is just another small victory, but the battle is still not over. There are quite a few things that will continue to roll on and the finances of our industry could get pretty tight before finally settling down.

I see Tracey Crouch has been reappointed as Minister for Sport. It will be very interesting to see what happens with the gaming machines in the betting shops and what she reduces the minimum play to as the bookmakers are now very dependent on these machines to keep the shops running.


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