Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Pressing on

Full steam ahead now with 15 horses in full work, most of them cantering steadily for 2 -3 miles on the stubble fields each day, no problems with firm ground this year and by all accounts it was rather good timing for Mrs A to have organised the family holiday to Italy last week.  
An August morning on the stubbles
As an extra celebration and to avoid the nightmare of Pisa airport on a summer Saturday we flew to Venice on the Friday and as ever I was struck by how the modern Venetians are just as good at emptying travellers' pockets as their ancestors. After a 4.30am start I was hot and thirsty by the time I reached our room (or cell), for many generations used by Nuns the convent on the Giudecca has been converted into a hotel and I did wonder what the previous occupants would have made of the 7euro charge the hotel wanted for a bottle of mineral water from the mini-bar, never has water tasted so, err, expensive. The "free" glass of Prosecco in reception half an hour previously had been slightly spoilt by Lucy's mobile going off and a top flat trainer coming on to offer a good ride at Beverley the following Thursday, oh dear, what was she going to do, obvious really and in the afternoon I found myself in the hotel's business centre printing off a rather pricey boarding pass for Lucy for the Ryanair flight from (guess where?) Pisa to Edinburgh on the following Tuesday... ah well, an early start and after a long drive on the Tuesday morning I was heading back to our holiday house when a text from Lucy arrived to tell me the horse hadn't been declared on account of the rain-softened ground, that's racing I suppose but it didn't leave me in the greatest of humours - I suppose that without her single-minded devotion to the cause she wouldn't have made the progress that she has to date. Still a shame to foreshorten her first holiday for two years and another transfer of cash from my pocket to greedy O'Leary, he is as good as the Venetians at that job but certainly lacks their style! Funnily enough I nearly bought a horse from him two weeks ago however it was lame, his brother tried to convince me that I was hallucinating and then the horse made a startling amount of money in the ring, fishy business I say.

Family Alexander await their taxi
Many apologies for the rambling, well over a month before we will have any runners but Lucy remains busy and today she rides Daytime Dreamer in the 5pm for Martin Todhunter and James Callow, then in the 5.30 she rides Deferto Delphi for Barry Murtagh - both should go well. Tomorrow she rides at Epsom in the Ladies Derby at 6.15; her first ride for Mark Johnston and her first ride in the Maktoum colours - should be tremendous to experience that unique track. Saturday will hopefully be either Perth or Market Rasen.
Plenty of racing news for me to bore on about, Howard received the inevitable career-ending ban - I think everyone in racing (apart from PF Nicholls) is disappointed about how unimaginative Mr Wylie was in his choice of new trainer, it's unhealthy for the sport when so many top owners migrate towards one trainer, disappointing for the North as well. Changing the Grand National, well, my view is the main thing they need to do to minimise the risk of fatalities is stop the ground riding too fast, making the fences more straightforward is liable to have the reverse effect of that intended by increasing the speed of the race, as for the PR disaster of last year's race - the responsibility for that lies solely with the BBC who played it up big time.
And now York, sadly too much on here to make our annual pilgimage and "Frank" appears to have taken umbrage at his cousin's Gordon's  "Glorious Goodwood" so no tips (phew)
Who does this new quad belong to?

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