An owners reflections; HOSPITALITY
Our season shifted gear recently. Having waited –like many others – for waterlogged ground to dry out, we aimed Lamanver Alchemy at softish ground at Plumpton and Lamanver Odysssey at slightly less soft ground at Taunton on the same day. Within 10 days their full sister would run at Fontwell. Out with the binoculars, road maps, address book, lucky socks and I pad. And off to Plumpton for me. Close to the English Channel it was bathed in sunshine but the Easterly wind was cutting –and drying. The track was all you might expect towards the end of a hellish jumps season weather-wise, but had no bearing on Alchemys performance which was over exuberant again. For all of that she did what Nico De Boinville asked in what was a jockey masterclass. I claimed my cup of soup and cheese straw in the Owners and Trainers hospitality lounge and settled in awaiting Odysseys race at Taunton. I wondered if Nicky Henderson had watched his first jockey educate our mare the day before The Festival and if so would have enjoyed being party to his thoughts!
If Nico is up there with the best, the next generation were ably represented as Tommy M O Brien got Odyssey up in a last –gasp victory in the Taunton bumper. I followed Alchemy out into the East Sussex gridlock and spoke with Donna on the phone. Taunton had run out of pies but after the race she had been offered a complimentary glass of champagne. She had a 3 hr. journey ahead so declined.
I settled into a 7 hour journey and decided I had drawn the short straw. Cheese straw to be precise.
A word here about Toms patience with Odyssey. Not straightforward nor the easiest by any means. And that’s just the owners! who may have been guilty ourselves of running keenly with our ambitions for her. But Tom held on until the work riders back home and the horse told him the time was right and she stepped up. In the aftermath of the race it was all about selling her so here, now, formally “Thanks Tom”. Yes there are things that only a race will reveal but you still have to complete your homework first and never be in a rush is the gist of it.
We drew straws again so to speak and Donna headed off to Fontwell Parc. She rang before the race and described a Sun drenched country house with a lavish spread set up in the Owners and Trainers. I suspect she thought she had walked into one of those “Downton Experience”trips. One of the team even offered to post her letters for her. Now That’s what Donna calls Hospitality! The mare got beaten by a whisker.
Time for Alchemy to come home for the summer. Which of course heralded heavy rain and the going reverting to heavy but she had done enough and we were never in two minds. Which saw me back up at Toms. Coffee, an offer of breakfast and she’s loaded in a second. I fiddle around to secure the back door of the trailer and on turning to say goodbye am greeted by a sea of faces. Tom Sophie and the children, Frank Michelle Tommy M and the other work riders. And 2 dogs –or did I imagine that. Anyway I felt like royalty. Or is it Downton again? You know, the bit where the rich dowager is off to The USA and gets the line up at the front door. Whichever it is That’s what I call Hospitality!