A pretty normal Monday until 3 p.m when I heard that Sophie had been in a head on car crash. An 80 year old man had lost control of his car and drove flat out into her. Thank god she is fine but seriously shaken up and very bruised. I've just got her home and now need to get her to bed 10.04 PM.
3 runners tomorrow at Southwell, Singlefarmpayment has a right good chance, the ground has gone agaisnt Adneene de Sevres and Hag Stone will have a nice introduction to racing. He will run well but won't be knocked around, I think he may want better ground too but until you try you never know.
Horses Lorries and Horse lorries
An Owners reflection
Yesterday 25th November our horse Lamanver Alchemy ran in a mares bumper at Wetherby. Ridden by Richard Johnson and carrying a 7 lb penalty. The race had been a week or two in the planning. Having won at Warwick under Noel Fehily (his 1000th winning ride no less) three weeks previously, she had travelled home with the two regulation warnings; plan nothing until we know she has “come out“ of the race well, and wait for her to “tell us” when she is ready to train on again. Noels advice having jumped off her was that she was tough and stayed (had the stamina to run further in due course), that she would not win a top-grade bumper (a flat race for horses destined eventually to jump obstacles), that she would be best schooled to jump, but that if she was over-exuberant in the meantime she might run another standard bumper against mares. But at that level she would be required to carry a 7lb penalty –a consequence of her having won once already. Which is –as you may have deduced- exactly how it worked out.
For which I am soon very grateful. Alchemys race is scheduled for 1530 but first we have to negotiate for ourselves the endless race that is the motorway traffic North of Bimingham. Tom knows his way. Slip roads ,split lanes, lanes closed, lanes merge. Concrete power stations. And LORRIES. Everywhere. Nose –to-tail. Eddie Stobart. All the main High Street giants. You could play lorry bingo. And somewhere ahead of us (but we are closing fast) Alchemy, Michelle and Richard in the horsebox. I reflect on my own moment-travelling North to watch a horse that we bred race in our colours. Who only once sat on a horse as a child. A pony no doubt that bolted immediately and strangely I remember booting the wing mirror of a car but couldn’t tell you if I stayed on. 25 years later an occasional hack from a West-Cornwall riding school. Horsey ladies shouting “shoulders up, knees in, heels down, straighten your back, where are your elbows? too much contact, too little contact. I ignore them the horse ignores me and we get home. Then recently a chance to ride my own horse from our own stables and suddenly it starts to make sense; that bond between man and horse. Ancient. Hard to describe. A communication. Moments when you feel a link. What was it the trainer said? ”The horse will TELL ME when it’s ready. And we lead them into lorries railway carriages and airplanes and we take them racing. And I find that extraordinary.
Tom swings off the A1. Beautiful weather and we have arrived. First visit to Wetherby . Arrive at any racecourse and you are in a world of different rules. The horses are the stars. The people are extras in the drama- jockeys excepted. The silks. The smell of turf. Garish clothes. Drab clothes Leave your airs and graces at the turnstile. I take some time on my own. It is the first time I have been racing alone – save Tom and he has work to do with Alchemy. She is getting “warm” (“revved up” Tom translates) and soon to be saddled. He will bring her to the paddock area at the last moment. I move amongst the bookies. There is a good midweek crowd. I watch a couple of races. The ground is testing.
I too am getting warm.
Alchemy appears. And there is a presence about her. Is she communicating something wirelessly? Is Donna feeling it in front of the tele with friends in Cornwall.
She races really well. You never get the full sense on the TV channels. Wetherby is a huge galloping track. Just as Tom promised. The A1 borders the far side. Still those lorries! The horses race alongside and then swing away into the home straight. The penalty takes its toll and Alchemy comes in 4th.
Homeward bound and Tom is edgy. Michelle has texted that Alchemy is still “wired”. Trainers have to do this several days a week. It’s good for me to see him slightly edgy; it means he cares. Not sure it’s good for him. Alchemy is loaded back into her horsebox and is somewhere behind us heading South. Amongst those lorries again Tom and I chat. Lots of things. Including his blog. And the recently formed Tom Lacey Racing Club. It is in its early days and needs advertising. I suggest the horsebox for a start. When the traffic snarls up you have no choice but to read the message on the lorry alongside behind and in front. I enjoy his blog and am embarrassed; he apologises for his spelling errors in comments posted whilst he is battling against sleep yet I gave up the farm blog months ago because I had problems with my computer and lost one piece of work. I am shamed into offering some “owners reflections”. So here they are.
He asks me to finish with something unique. OK. This is something that occurred to me sat in a traffic jam as I travelled back through Cornwall this afternoon. Having seen Alchemy this morning. Fine and relaxed. And having reflected on how racing has become such a part of mine and Donnas lives. And no doubt the same for many others. And that thing about communication and the bond…….
Do we take horses racing or do they take us?