The rain held off until late morning when we received a light soaking! It could have been so much worse on that front.
Geoff Lloyd and Norma Harris were here to see Katie Kilminster have a quiet canter; they arrived laden with croissants making for a very good breakfast.
Geoff modeling his new set of colours.
After breakfast we schooled Cirano De Sivola, Robin Des Champs ex Just Kate, Getaway ex Oscar Road, Beneficial ex Greenhall Rambler and Stowaway ex Aine Dubh. Tommie O’Brien and Joe Drinkwater were test pilots. We got them all upsides for the first time which went smoothly. The others cantered.
This afternoon I watched The Ladbroke, Richard Johnson was at his brilliant best getting Sternrubin back up to dead heat. I have always been aware of his brilliance, but like so many have never appreciated how brilliant he really is. Of course, had it not been for AP he would have been champion jockey many times. Barring injury he is sure to be champion this time around and no one deserves it more.
Owners reflections 3
The festive season looms; a notable time for Jumps Racing for two reasons. There will be high proportions of first-time racegoers which the industry needs to encourage back by delivering a good experience. And there will be high numbers of horses turning out the length and breadth of the country behind which is an equally high number of yard staff whose ongoing care and attention is a crucial part of any seasonal campaign. They should not be forgotten by the rest of us as we struggle to rise from the sofa to stand for Her Majesty at 3pm.Not all those working within racing yards have families to go to and for others those families are in far countries. I count 47 races at 7 venues on Boxing Day alone. And for every horse setting out for its race there will be many left behind who still need tending. I am not about to suggest a compulsory pay rise or a levy on all winnings at Boxing Day meetings. But as somebody who worked on many high days and holidays over my years, I remember that it helped just for that effort to be recognized. Horseracing remains a minority interest within the general spectrum of Sport but it is a significant industry and a significant employer. And it provides in the hardest weather and at times when many industries shut down. I for one will make sure that my non-racing friends are aware of that in the forthcoming two weeks.
And what about those non-racing friends? Most of them are destined to be taken racing by us at some point. What might racing improve on to encourage them back? One bugbear of mine is the provision of food. It is often very limited and tables are commonly taken up for the duration of the racecard by entrenched groups. And everything closes with the final race. We might learn from other events. Take cricket. Lords used to have appalling catering – all in-house and hopelessly limited. The MCC realized that “wining and dining” was an important part of the experience. Not for all but at least if it is available then it somehow feels better. So now they have a vast range of contractors who come in with their state-of-the art mobile catering facilities. And many of them unload a couple of dozen chairs. And will soon tell you when you have overstayed. What the MCC loses on income I am sure it gains on selling ground –space.
Consider our local track Exeter. The main stands are all on one side near the winning post. The other side is used for car-parking at no charge. I would be happy to pay a fiver for a premium car park place where I could pull out a hamper normally reserved for point-to-point meetings and sit for a while amongst the ethnic food contractors, and the coffee merchants. You could even have a couple of bookies. And fancy mobile toilets. And our friends would have the choice of my ham sandwiches (with or without English mustard) or something more exciting. Either way I hope they would say “we must do this again”.
I have told one or two racing people about our experience as first-timers this summer. We were taken to Glyndebourne to see Carmen. The catering is structured around a ninety minute interval between the two Acts. Some eat from hampers on the lawns, some in proper catered restaurants. Whichever you choose it enhances the whole experience. I would go that far with racing. We like our food. We don’t wish to rush it or stand propped against a wall, plate in one hand fork in another. And we hate taking our eye off the racing. Even to admire a Moroccan vegan filo pastry pie (lunch interval Second Test vs West Indies Lords 2103!).