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Friday, 28 March 2014

"Love is, above all, the gift of oneself."

Jean Anouilh.

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My Guardian Angel and Swilken

It’s a foggy morning, though not quite as bad as the one we had last week, when visibility was down to around five yards. Today it gradually cleared as the sun came up and burnt it off. There is no wind, which is the major problem. We have been doing faster work first two lots, with the preliminary canter on the town sand and then faster work on Long Hill polytrack. It goes for about 7 ½ furlongs from the town, right up to Warren Place. Everything pleased me and if things progress like this and the horses stay healthy, we are in for a good season ahead.

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Astrovirtue and Topamichi

I see Sheikh Hamdan is hitting out at the track surface is Dubai. They are blaming the Tapeta surface for the non appearance of any of the American top horses. They have tried artificial surfaces in America, with polytracks etc, but are now pulling them up and reverting back to the old fashioned dirt surfaces. The artificial surfaces are much kinder to the horses, but some horses will go on them and some won’t. It is just the same anomaly as horses that can either go on firm or soft, or left or right. There is not an exact science and there never will be. Whether changing the surface back to the desert sand that they used to have at Nad Al Sheba, would encourage more runners in the world cup is debatable. Maybe the race, although being worth so much money, has just lost its sparkle or come at the wrong time of year. It will be interesting to see what happens, as the track is due to be replaced shortly. My bet is on it going back to the old sand surface.

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Toptempo leading Crystal Pearl, Nancy and Topaling

It is a big weekend of racing with the Lincoln and the World Cup in Dubai. It was great to do the draw for the Lincoln yesterday, in the ultra modern At The Races studios. It all went off without a hitch and I hope nobody blames me for their draw. My two tentative selections for the Lincoln are for Off Art and Consign, who are both drawn in the middle. There is a massive field for the Brocklesbury, the first two-year-old race of the year, and there will be a few bubbles burst very early on in the season. I will be shouting for Cirrus Des Aigles in the Dubai World Cup and I am sure he will run a big race. The son of our own Even Top has been ultra consistent, and a great servant to his owner and trainer. He may not be getting any better at his age but I am sure will put up a great fight.

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The Bury Side Depot

The picture above, which I thought might be of interest, is of the Bury Side Depot. It’s where the heath men keep all the tractors and machinery and everything else needed to keep the heath maintained at the high standard it is. The buildings used to house the horses that worked on the heath before tractors were invented. It’s always been one of my thoughts as to how nice it would be to see them working the grassland now. Just think of two big shire horses pulling the grass cutter, roller or harrow on the Limekilns and Railway Land. It must have been a fantastic sight. They used to go round skylarks nests that were nesting in their hundreds in those day, nowadays the tractor drivers, in their air conditioned cabs, with earphones on listening to music, don’t have a clue about the wildlife which lives on and adjacent to the heath. I am afraid it is the sign of the times.