Sunday, 18 March 2012

Bingo! (at last...)

The long road back... Isla Pearl Fisher with Amy back in September
A wonderful spring morning and my heart is skipping after an exhilarating week. Yesterday was an extraordinary day to end the week, culminating in an agonizing 90 minute roller-coaster which finished on a tremendous high with Isla Pearl Fisher winning the 3m Chase at Newcastle. A fantastic result, our 50th winner, and a credit to the team who nursed him back from a fracture and subsequent operation just over a year ago to the winner's enclosure yesterday, he's quirky, it took us 20 minutes to load him on the lorry in the morning and he point-blank refused to go into the dope-testing box after the race but we love him! His owner Philippa Gammell had to listen to the race from Australia via a dodgy internet commentary but special thanks should go to her for her exemplary patience, always the key in this sport, I only managed to speak to her briefly after the race but I know that she will be thrilled that her handsome boy is back, particularly now that she has been seen to ride him at Kinneston, not something that she anticipated a year or two ago.
Native Coll yesterday with Gillian (courtesy of Dennis Penny)
'twas a long day... after the (slightly) testing time loading IPF I dashed down to watch first lot working on the grass, a crucial piece of work for Academy in particular, I then jumped into the car and went to look at some horses near Dunbar and then headed across the magnificent Borders countryside to the point-to-point track at Kelso which I wanted to walk before comitting our runners, the ground was OK so I sped on to Newcastle and it wasn't long before I jumped on the roller-coaster; Lucy's ride Posh Bird had been the subject of a nationwide gamble in the Midlands National and had generated an extraordinary wave of publicity, sadly the race clearly came too soon after a gruelling effort 2 weeks ago in the Eider Chase at Newcastle and the horse never travelled, no time to dwell on this though as I was soon on the phone to Jamie for a commentary of the 3.30 at the p2p where Kit was riding Native Coll, he ran a blinder only to crash out through the wing at the last fence when in the lead taking the second out with him (more below), Forcefield then put in a solid effort at Newcastle prior to Jamie having his first spin on Mersey at Kelso, coming a fast finishing second prior to being disqualified on a post race technicality (more below!). Interspersed with this was another ride for Kit and 3 others for Lucy at Uttoxeter the last one listened to in the car leaving Newcastle - head spinning!
It doesn't stop there because Lucy has four rides at Carlisle today (details below), no runners for us which is just as well as a large pile of mail has accumulated on my desk and Monday morning beckons. She had a fantastic time riding at Cheltenham and ended up in the money in the last race when De Boitron finished 6th of 22, a wonderful experience.
Native Coll (Kit)
And now, a rant, apologies in advance and you are certainly forgiven if you don't want to read it .... The sour note of the day was definitely Jamie getting disqualified and fined for taking one step into the changing room (watched by the Stewards) prior to remembering that he needed to weigh in. It seems petty to disqualify a Corinthian of the p2p circuit on this basis, it would never have happened under rules (where he would have been guided to the scales) and it caused serious dissent in the weighing room particularly after the controversial fining of Steven Fox last week in similarly petty circumstances. It appears to me that there is a danger of p2p Stewards trying to busy themselves in order to avoid dealing with the more complicated and serious issues, it was bizarre that they didn't even interview Kit after a such a nasty incident.  As the Owners and Riders representative in the Northern Area (a role which I sadly no longer have time to do justice) I have raised many issues over the past few years to little avail, too many unnecessary and expensive minute abandonments, some meetings run like chaotic gymkhanas and some serious safety issues.  This is an amateur sport but it needs to be run professionally, it's dangerous. At the last fence yesterday Kit was fortunate to come out of a horrible run-out at the last unscathed. At exactly the same jump last year Lucy had a horrendous fall on Aggies Lad, Lucinda's Bear Dancing did the same thing at the same fence, is this a coincidence? - I think not. Native Coll is extremely experienced, this was his 34th race and he leads all our youngsters schooling, Aggies Lad was similarly experienced..... I could go on!
Flaming Thistle
Well, thought Lucy was coming home tonight after a week on the road, just had her on the phone, Southwell tomorrow....... and Kit is about to jump on a series of trains to Newmarket where he is due to attend a course which, if he passes, will allow him to ride against professionals on the racecourse.

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